Saturday, December 06, 2008

Dear Hannity...Love Deepak

Sean Hannity, never one to twist a situation to his advantage while ripping his opponent with false characterizations, did exactly that to the ever spiritual Deepak Chopra last week. It was about the Mumbai attacks and from Deepak's message of love, Hannity misconstrued it as "blaming America." So Deepak did the brave thing and responded on his own show and over at the Huffington Post.

From The Huffington Post:

Dear Sean,

I saw a report about last night's show that quotes you as follows:

"Hannity continued by saying, "We had Deepak Chopra on last night and he's blaming America! ...He was blaming America for the attacks in Mumbai and I challenged him on it and I'm like, 'Wait a minute. You've done so well in America. Why are you blaming us?' We protect 100% of the world's population. We're 4% of it."

I am really disappointed in you. Do you not remember your other guest when I was on, former Defense Secretary Bill Cohen? He made the same point I did about America's policy toward the jihadists: "Are we creating more terrorists than killing them?" Ironically, this question is attributed to Donald Rumsfeld.

It really doesn't matter to me personally whether you agree with me or not. Leaving our debate aside, your habit of taking statements out of context and playing the blaming game is sad. You have a powerful platform that influences many people. Why do you use your influence to monger fear, militancy, divisiveness, and jingoism?

I was hoping to come back on your show and have a reflective, intelligent dialogue, but perhaps the attack mode is the only way you know to make a living. The best excuse for your dishonest accusations against me is that you don't believe what you're saying. The far right has deflated, so you are there to pump it up with hot air. If you stop blowing, you'll be out of a job. I empathize.


All Sean really knows is to monger fear, militancy, divisiveness, and jingoism. He prefers hate to love, war to peace, destruction to reconstruction, disease to cures and on and on. I am really proud to see Colmes leave his show finally. He must have had enough after twelve years of being continually bashed by Sean and liberals for giving Hannity an illusion of balance on his show.

I agree with Deepak one hundred percent on his analysis of Mr. Hannity. He is a sad sight and I....well, I try to empathize. I'd much rather just see him off the air.

Why 350 Is One Of The Most Important Numbers To Know

The level of carbon in our atmosphere is rising at an alarming rate due to our production and consumption habits. If only we did a few (or more than a few) key things to change the way we live, the number of particles in the atmosphere would be reduced and our planet could begin to balance itself out.

Another Senator Kennedy from New York?

There was a lot of talk yesterday surrounding Caroline Kennedy's interest in talking to Governor Paterson about that open position in the United States Senate. Paterson said he would not be making his decision until Senator Clinton is confirmed as Secretary of State early next year, but the speculation is in high gear here for a Kennedy in early December.

From Yahoo News:

WASHINGTON – Caroline Kennedy has spoken to New York's governor about the Senate seat that will come open when Hillary Rodham Clinton becomes secretary of state, and Kennedy and the governor are expected to meet as early as Saturday to discuss it further, according to people familiar with the conversation.

Kennedy reached out to Gov. David Paterson, who will pick someone to fill the seat for two years, according to a Democratic source who spoke on condition of anonymity because the conversation was private.

Two New York Democrats told The Associated Press that Kennedy and the governor are expected to meet privately to discuss the matter Saturday, when Paterson travels to Washington, D.C., for a dinner.

Kennedy is interested in the Senate appointment, said a person close to the Kennedy family.

She of course would be the second Kennedy to represent New York in the Senate, being that her Uncle Robert had the seat from 1965 until his death in 1968. Caroline isn't really that much of a politician, so that does make her interest a bit different from the host of New York politicians that have been thought of for the seat. And of course, she is a Kennedy, which presents both good and bad aspects.

The good thing about appointing her is that she is a big name that can fill a big seat. She has star power and used it for the incoming President nearly a year ago when his nomination was still far from being locked up. On the downside, it raises the legacy question and furthers that American dynasty we are all supposed to be wary of, or so said our founding fathers.

And then there's the issue of internal New York Democratic politics. Upstate vs. Downstate, the Governor's own competition in 2010 (e.g. Cuomo) and other considerations that make the choice of the Senate seat so vitally important. Now I like Caroline Kennedy and all, and she could probably do a lot of good but maybe the fact that the Governor is waiting until January is a good thing, so we can take a good, long look at everyone that is interested in the job.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Election Day Is Tomorrow...In Two Corners Of Louisiana

Yeah, I know, most people are sick of elections and wish we could just get a break from it all. The only thing is, every race is important and having one more Democrat in the House as opposed to a Republican is always a matter worth fighting for. Tomorrow, residents of hurricane-battered Northwest Louisiana will head to the polls to determine who their next Congressman will be.

From KATC:

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Cameos by President-elect Barack Obama and Vice President Dick Cheney have brought star power to a hurricane-delayed battle between Democrats and Republicans for an up-for-grabs U.S. House seat.

Obama recorded a radio ad to help Democrat Paul Carmouche, while Cheney helped with fundraising and GOP up-and-comer Gov. Bobby Jindal helped with a television ad for Republican candidate John Fleming.

Saturday's election in Louisiana's 4th Congressional District will determine who replaces U.S. Rep. Jim McCrery, a 10-term Republican who's retiring from Congress. The election was pushed back to December after Hurricane Gustav delayed party primaries that had been set for early September.

"The Democrats desperately want to go out on a winning note," said St. Francisville political analyst Mike Smith. "The Republicans want desperately to retain this seat so they can say they didn't have any additional slippage going into 2009."
The other race is a virtual no-contest as the crooked criminal/Congressman William Jefferson will likely retain his seat. That is certainly one Democrat that must be primaried out in two years. Back to the 4th District, it will ultimately come down to turnout and who gets more supporters to the polls than the other. Chambliss succeeded in his race for the Senate three days ago, but unlike in Georgia, Paul Carmouche stands a much better chance at winning than Jim Martin did.

And it goes without saying, if you are in the area, go volunteer and if not, you can still help phonebank!

Chris Wallace Uses Cheney's Praises To Defend His Conservative Honor

This back and forth between Chris Wallace and Mike Gallagher is hilarious. Gallagher, most likely jealous that Wallace has a larger audience, taunts Wallace for not being Republican enough. Well Wallace wasn't going to take that sitting down, oh no! He can prove he's a far greater Republican hack than Gallagher will ever be.

Getting NY $$ For Infrastructure Depends On Us

The budget deficit is out of control, certain Senate Dems extorted the caucus for sweetheart deals and New York politics is just as screwed up as usual. Yet, not all is lost in the Empire State, as long as a few key pols (like Governor Paterson) shape up and get Obama to give us some dough from his proposed economic stimulus package. A little hard work can go a long way in getting us many different infrastructure improvements and the jobs and increased commercial activity that can come from it.

From The NY Daily News:

Billions of dollars are being dangled in front of big cities in the form of President-elect Barack Obama's proposed public works stimulus. A queue has already started forming - as Philadelphia, Phoenix, Atlanta, Connecticut and North Carolina have dusted off plans with ready-to-go projects.

Gov. Paterson and Mayor Bloomberg must act now to ensure that New York doesn't miss the boat - or the train, or the bus.

The cornerstone of Obama's infrastructure plans: the creation of a bipartisan supported National Infrastructure Bank funded by the federal government to the tune of $60 billion over 10 years. The bank is likely to require any project seeking more than $75 million in federal support to submit a proposal to the bank - a proposal that would include the contribution to be made by state and local governments, user fees and a plan for maintenance.

To position New York at the head of the line - and get the money and jobs we need and deserve - the mayor and governor should anticipate the structure to be followed by the bank. That means getting already-designed projects in the queue. In addition, start designing much-needed transportation facilities so that we are poised for early submission - a formula successfully followed by Robert Moses.
I'm no fan of what Robert Moses did, but the way he got it done was impressive to say the least. If Paterson could do for mass transit what Moses did for the suburbanization of downstate New York, oh what a happy day that would be. Obama is making it easy for urban centers to get in on the opportunity. Though if we don't push our city and state leaders to go up to the door and knock, then we'll end up watching California and other places in envy as they build such things as high speed and inter-city rail projects.

A Little Common Sense On Going To War Against Terror

In the wake of the Mumbai attacks, a natural human emotion is to want revenge for the deaths caused by the terrorists. India has talked about going after Pakistan and it scares the shit out of many because both have nuclear arms. At the very least, India will be going to fight the war on terror just as we began after September 11th. The only problem, as Rosa Brooks points out, "Terror is an emotion, and terrorism is a tactic." So what we need is a little briefing on history and a lot of restraint via common sense before we get our war on again.

From The LA Times:

Terrorism is nearly as old as humanity itself. In the 1st century AD, the Zealots of Judea began a series of covert killings of Roman occupiers and Jewish collaborators. The word "assassin" is thought to derive from "Hashshashin," the name of a Shiite sect active during the Middle Ages whose members donned disguises to kill their victims in public places. The term "thug" is said to come from India -- from the 17th to 19th centuries, a cult engaged in "thuggee," the mass strangulation of travelers in caravans. And like modern terrorists of all ideological stripes, these ancient Zealots, assassins and thugs succeeded in part by sowing outsized fear.

Mumbai should remind us -- again -- of the folly of the Bush administration's "war on terror." Terror is an emotion, and terrorism is a tactic. You can't make "war" against it. Even if meant as mere metaphor, "the war on terror" foolishly enhanced the terrorist's status as prime boogeyman, arguably increasing the psychological effectiveness of terrorist tactics. Worse, it effectively lumped together many different organizations motivated by many different grievances -- a surefire route to strategic error.

Like crime, terrorism will always be with us, and terrorist attacks will increase as long as we succumb to the panic they're intended to inspire. But if we resist the temptation to lash out indiscriminately, we can take sober steps to reduce terrorism through improved intelligence, carefully targeted disruptions of specific terrorist organizations and efforts to address specific grievances (such as disputes over Kashmir). With a new U.S. administration about to take office, isn't it finally time to say goodbye to the "war on terror"? After all, we already have two real wars to worry about.
You can't go to war against terror just as you can not win a war against drugs, or even poverty for that matter. "War" is such a strong word and here, it is a symbol leaders use that shows their subjects they'll be tough and fight whatever and whomever to make people feel safe. The only problem with that is we generally over-react and let bloodthirsty fools like George Bush invade Iraq. Brooks is exactly right when we need to take sober steps such as those she lists in that last paragraph.

If that new Administration really wants to reduce the chances of us feeling terrorized by the next attack (whenever that may be), then Obama's people must act rationally in their responses and long-term policy goals. Instead of warring, we need to work together as a nation and ideally as a planet to root out the causes for those that wish to terrorize others. Only then do we stand a chance of reducing our fears of another Mumbai, Madrid, London, New York, Oklahoma City and so on.

KBR Finally Being Confronted For Their Criminal And Immoral Behavior

This story is just sickening, I hope everyone involved in these practices are prosecuted to fullest extent of the law, whether that be here in the U.S. or Iraq. Not only does KBR ignore the value of foreign workers' lives, they don't mind treating our own troops worse than garbage.

Job Numbers Continue To Get Worse....And Worse

No one has to tell you that things are getting bad out there in our economy, but there is plenty of information to prove it. The Bush Administration and John McCain tried to tell us that the fundamentals of the economy were strong, but thankfully most of us saw beyond their obfuscation of the truth. Now that Wall Street has been erratically swinging (mostly down) for two or three months, we are beginning to see how it affects everyone outside of the Financial District.

From CNBC:

U.S. employers axed payrolls by a shocking 533,000 in November for the weakest performance in 34 years, government data on Friday showed, as the recession inflicted a mounting toll on the U.S. labor market.

The Labor Department said the unemployment rate rose to 6.7 percent last month in the highest reading since 1993, compared with 6.5 percent in October, after widespread losses across the country's major industry sectors.[...]

That meant 199,000 more jobs were lost in September and October than previously thought and the total reduction in U.S. nonfarm payrolls for last three months was 1.256 million, with almost 2 million shed in the year so far.

Service-providing businesses alone shed 370,000 jobs in November, following a loss of 153,000 jobs the month before.

Yeah you read that right, over 1.25 million jobs lost in three months. Republicans in power avoided these brewing problems for years (as did neo-liberal Democrats) and now it is time to begin to repair the damage. Barack Obama can't possibly take the helm soon enough. The time for change can barely wait for January 20th, if only he could have started on November 5th.

NY Senate Dems Reward Bad Behavior

Senate Democrats in Albany are still a month out from officially assuming power and yet they have seemed to screw it all up already. Kruger, Diaz and Espada "fell in line" but the deals that got them to do that could have incredible consequences. It seems that those in attendance at yesterday's meeting, particularly Malcolm Smith and Governor Paterson went for the short term gain of solving the inter-party leadership kerfuffle at the expense of what happens inside our own party across the state.

From The Cityroom:

Two people involved in the talks said that Mr. Espada will get the title of majority leader under the deal, though Mr. Smith would be the real leader of the Democratic caucus, with the title of president pro tempore. Still, the deal would make Mr. Espada arguably the most powerful Latino elected official in New York State.

Mr. Kruger would be named chairman of the Senate Finance Committee — a major post with the power to approve gubernatorial nominees and a lead role in negotiating state budgets — and the committee would become more autonomous.

And the senators will sit in alphabetical order in the chamber, rather than divided by party, along with other changes to the Senate’s rules that will make it more democratic — something Mr. Smith has long advocated.
I could care less if they say according to height, weight or shoe size. Where the Senators seats are in the chamber doesn't amount to a hill of beans. What does count here is that Kruger got the Finance Committee, screwing over Western New York and the presumed chair Bill Stachowski. Upstate is not going to like that at all. All of the power rests from the Bronx on down.

Diaz is getting what he wants as well. Gay marriage is issue non-grata in the State Senate for at least two years now. Marriage advocates will continue to fight the good fight, but real progress can easily be stymied by the egomaniac of the Gang, Senator-Elect Espada.

Espada is getting a fantastic deal out of this. While being called "Majority Leader" is simply a title and doesn't carry the oomph that President Pro Tem does for Smith, the position isn't to be taken lightly, especially as a brand new Senator. He also gets a prime spot on the Rules Committee, which is an excellent "gatekeeper" seat in terms of bringing legislation to the floor.

Ultimately, this is about rewarding bad behavior. The three of them cut their deals and the biggest loser from this of course, is the average New Yorker. For all of Espada's talk about Latino empowerment, the only Latino he cares about is himself. He has certainly made that clear before. The whole thing reminds me of what happened in the U.S. Senate just last month, when Lieberman fought like hell to beatup Democrats and when his GOP friends lost, he came back to eat at the leadership's trough and was given a slap on the wrist in front of the cameras and accepted with open arms immediately after.

Like the leadership in Washington, Albany has shown that they simply want the masses to vote for them, a few to lick envelopes and when the ballots have been counted, to be shooed away for two years until it is time for re-election. Well, that simply is not going to happen. The people, especially those in Diaz, Kruger and Espada's districts will come to know their Senators quite well for the conniving traitors that they are. Then, if all goes well, there will be actual Democrats who care about the principles of their party and kick them out of office during the primary election of 2010. Espada lost his primary race before, it can certainly happen again.

Ah, The Many Crimes Of The Bush Administration

Keith Olbermann covers the top three scandals within the White House and what is going on with each. Particularly interesting is that the Feds are actually showing some signs about doing something about the felonious Alberto Gonzales!

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Cities Without Newspapers Will Be A Reality Sooner Than You Think

The imminent demise of the New York Times is on the radar screens of many media watchers, but the problem of today's print journalism goes much further than just New York. Due to falling circulations and less interest overall in old fashioned newsprint things are looking terrible for the future of the Fourth Estate across the country.

From Editor and Publisher:

CHICAGO Newspaper and newspaper groups are likely to default on their debt and go out of business next year -- leaving "several cities" with no daily newspaper at all, Fitch Ratings says in a report on media released Wednesday.

"Fitch believes more newspapers and newspaper groups will default, be shut down and be liquidated in 2009 and several cities could go without a daily print newspaper by 2010," the Chicago-based credit ratings firm said in a report on the outlook for U.S. media and entertainment.

Fitch is generally pessimistic across the board, assigning negative outlets to nearly all sectors from Yellow Pages to radio and TV and theme parks. But the newspaper industry is the most at risk of defaulting, it says.
The dawn of the internet age had the heads of the old institutions laughing at the new medium. Now they're struggling to stay afloat as people rely on computers more and more. Some suggest that even our brains are changing as well, but what is certain is that our reading habits are morphing faster and faster. In the business world, that has serious consequences for the newspapers and more importantly, their audiences. Perhaps they'll be forced even more to turn online to not only read what is going on, but be interactive with content providers as well.

Gang Of Three Officially Disbands, Dems Will Control The Senate

What was beginning to seem like an on-going soap opera drama, quickly came to an end today. Hiram Monserrate dropped out of a group opposed to Malcolm Smith becoming Majority Leader, but Espada, Kruger and Diaz held out for an entire month. Today it is being reported that the three sat down with Smith and everything is copasetic. Hmmm....

From The Daily Politics:

The leadership battle that has frozen the Senate since Election Day is over, and the three renegade senators known as the Gang of Three have all pledged to support Senate Minority Leader Malcolm Smith for majority leader in exchange for an agreement that will result in what Sen. Carl Kruger called "significant and historic reform" of how the chamber operates.

He refused to provide any additional information, saying that a press release will be forthcoming from Smith's office.

I called Sen. Ruben Diaz Sr., and he confirmed: "It's over. It's a done deal. We agreed."

But what about gay marriage - Diaz's signature issue and the one thing he said he absolutely wouldn't abide coming to the floor?

The senator refused to tell me anything about what kind of deal Smith struck on that (recall that Diaz said he wanted a written pledge that whoever he supported for leader would not bring a bill legalizing same-sex marriage). The only thing he would say was: "I'm comfortable that everything's going to be OK."

Everything's going to be OK for whom exactly? It's great that the Democrats have control of the Senate, but at what price? Both sides are saying that we're going to have reform and things are wonderful but no one wants to talk specifics. Inquiring minds want to know what Kruger, Diaz and Espada are getting out of this. Something just does not smell right.

Bob Shrum Points Out Big 3's Lies On TV Today

The auto industry and their conservative friends have tried to push a misleading figure that says auto workers make over $70 an hour with benefits. That was clearly and easily debunked online as soon as it was mentioned. Now, at least on this show, there is a little bit of truth seeping out into the traditional media about how much those workers actually get, which is somewhere around $28.

NRDC Scores A Victory Against Ravenous Coal Companies

Nearly since the new millenia began, the fossil fuel industries have won countless battles against the environment and those that fight for it. With the full force of a Republican Congress and the Bush White House, mining executives moved into the regulatory agencies to dismantle worker protection laws as well and legislation that was meant to protect the areas around where mining took place. The mountain-top removal method has destroyed thousands of acres of wilderness in our country, causing immense damage to any surrounding communities. Today however, was a new day.

From The NRDC Switchboard:

This summer, after months of conversations, some top executives from Bank of America agreed to accompany NRDC staff on a fact-finding trip to Appalachia. In July we flew them over moonscaped mine sites in West Virginia, took them to Kayford Mountain for a closer look at mountaintop mining, and introduced them to several local residents/activists who are fighting to save their beloved homeland from reckless coal mining companies.

Today, BofA released its revised
coal policy, which will have the immediate effect of curtailing commercial lending to companies that mine coal by blowing off the top of mountains. The policy states, in part:
Bank of America is particularly concerned about surface mining conducted through mountain top removal in locations such as central Appalachia. We therefore will phase out financing of companies whose predominant method of extracting coal is through mountain top removal. While we acknowledge that surface mining is economically efficient and creates jobs, it can be conducted in a way that minimizes environmental impacts in certain geographies.
Why is this significant? Consider that Bank of America stands as a pillar of our country's shaky financial system. In fact, the trying economic crisis has only served to strengthen this behemoth bank while other once proud and stable institutions fall by the wayside. All the more reason to engage BofA in using its investment power and influence to affect positive environmental change.
The NRDC played a brilliant hand by going straight to the top here. Appealing to the big bad companies themselves can have a tremendous impact. Protesting and organizing at the grassroots level is still crucial to what we do in the progressive movement. Yett if an environmental group such as the Natural Resource Defense Council can simply fly some executives over Appalachia and from there have funding cut off for the mining companies wicked ways, more power to the them!

M.T.A. Scares Us With Large Fare Hike So The Eventual Increase Doesn't Look So Bad

Straphangers were shocked to see that the M.T.A. was considering increasing the fare to $3 a couple weeks ago, so $2.50 isn't that bad, right? Paterson, on the advice of the Ravitch Commission see's an eight percent increase instead of a twenty-three percent hike. Obviously the lower number is better, but perhaps the first amount was just meant to dull our reaction to an eventual hike.

From The NY Times:

Gov. David A. Paterson said for the first time on Wednesday that he supported a financial rescue plan for the Metropolitan Transportation Authority that includes charging tolls on bridges over the East and Harlem Rivers. The plan, he said, would substantially reduce the size of a fare increase the authority had sought.

The governor also spoke favorably about a recommendation in the plan for a tax on company payrolls in the region. The measures are aimed at helping the authority overcome a projected $1.2 billion deficit next year and a gaping multibillion-dollar hole in its long-term capital budget.

The governor said he was still reviewing the plan, but was “quite pleased with what I see so far.” “As an alternative to a fare hike,” he said, “I think it’s very viable.”

The plan, developed by a commission appointed by Mr. Paterson and headed by Richard Ravitch, a former authority chairman, is expected to be made public on Thursday, though many details have already come to light. If it is enacted, the plan will allow the authority to eliminate a severe round of service cuts it had proposed for next year.
Escaping service cuts is great news and tolls on the bridges in my view at least is decent news (though there has to be exceptions). As for a payroll tax, it is better than losing service, but these are hard times for businesses in New York City and should only apply to those that aren't struggling to survive (sans greedy Wall Streeters teetering on the edge).

Getting away from the reliance from real estate revenue is a good thing in this crazy economy. Though what we really need to do is get the state and the national government to chip in to make our subway work without it working those that ride it every day.

A Must See: Prop 8, The Musical

If you could fit the issue of Proposition 8 into 3:15 minutes, this is the way to do it:

See more Jack Black videos at Funny or Die

Great musical and props to all that helped make this!

Tweety Getting Serious About The Senate

Not the cartoon character, nor the combination of Tweety Bird and Chris Matthews, but the whole Chris Matthews. He's apparently set on running for Arlen Specter's seat in two years and buying a house on the other side of New Jersey to prove it. Of course real estate in Pennsylvania is intriguing, but giving up his soapbox on MSNBC would mean a whole lot more.

From Politico:

As speculation surrounding his potential candidacy heats up, Matthews has also been asking advisers whether to step down from his MSNBC post well before his contract expires in June. At one recent meeting, he was advised that if he truly intends to run, he should resign from the network as soon as possible.

“We talked about the value of doing this now and six months from now. I advocated that he do this as soon as possible,” the operative said. “It’s the MSNBC stuff that’s going to jam him up. I said, 'If you want to be a U.S. senator, step up and get into the race.'”
As you may recall, Al Franken resigned from his much more liberally-minded gig at Air America in mid-February of 2007. Of course Air America had nothing to lose, since it is a progressive talk network. MSNBC on the other hand is supposed to be neutral and is afraid of wingers calling them the Fox News of the left. The reality is those nuts on the right will say bad things about MSNBC either way, just as long as there are people at the network that call them out on their rabid rightwing shit.

Still, if Chris wants to put himself out there and join the club of 100, then he should resign from Hardball ASAP.

Justice On Its Way To The Owners Of Saigon Grill

A few weeks ago a judge ordered restitution to be paid to the exploited workers of Saigon Grill in their civil case. Now Attorney General is bringing the criminal trial to Simon and Michelle Nget, for their negligent and unlawful behavior as the owners of the establishment. We aren't talking about a slap on the wrist here, Cuomo's got more than 400 charges against the couple.

From The NY Times:

The owners of the two Saigon Grill restaurants in Manhattan were arrested Wednesday on more than 400 criminal charges, including violating minimum-wage laws, falsifying business records and defrauding the state’s unemployment insurance system.

Simon and Michelle Nget, the owners of the popular pan-Asian restaurants, pleaded not guilty to those charges as well as to charges of demanding illegal payments from their deliverymen, tampering with witnesses and creating fraudulent records to cover up their actions.

Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo announced the arrests of the Ngets, who have been locked in a two-year battle with 36 deliverymen that has included calls for a boycott, picketing in front of their restaurants and a judge’s order for them to pay $4.6 million for wage violations.
The Ngets are in a whole lot of trouble, and everything they get is definitely deserved. Abusing their employees in that manner was sickening and justice is sorely needed here. The restitution was fantastic, but keeping them behind bars for a while.

Now I'm sure that Saigon Grill is but one of many restaurants that take advantage of their workers to some degree, especially here in Manhattan. While it sucks to be made an example of, if the story of the Ngets and their restaurant can make restauranters follow minimum wage laws (among others), then throw the book at them.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Breaking News!!! Bill Richardson Shaves!

Oh and the fresh-faced Governor and former U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson was officially nominated to be our next Commerce Secretary:

SUNY Purchase Students Play Chess With The Governor

CUNY and SUNY students (as well as faculty) are sick and tired of being used as pawns in the Governor's serious game of budget cuts. While David Paterson waits for a bailout from the future Obama Administration, he is laying a large cut on the students of CUNY and SUNY by way of a large tuition hike. Leaders in Albany expect the young to be politically ignorant, but across the system people are organizing. At SUNY Purchase, students are getting creative to draw attention to their protestation of the tuition increases.

From The Journal News:

Purchase College students embodied the message that they are tired of being treated like pawns in the governor's budget by dressing up and acting out a human game of chess in the center of campus yesterday.

"We wanted to do something representative of how we feel," said Anna Helhoski, 20, a junior who helped to organize the event. "We are people, we're not pawns, and we shouldn't be treated as such."

About two dozen students rallied in hopes that Gov. David Paterson and the state Legislature would rethink a proposed tuition hike for the State University of New York system.

Similar events were staged throughout the SUNY and CUNY system, with more than 12,000 postcards being signed and sent to the governor with the message: "We're tired of being pawns!"

Students have been punished by budget cuts and tuition increases before, but now it is just too much. This is exactly the time to not touch education, as many of the recently unemployed look to more education to secure a job in these tough times. An immediate hike will not allow the limited amount of financial aid to adjust and many students will not be able to stay in class. Six hundred dollars may not sound like a lot to a Governor that is looking to cut $2 billion, but to the individual struggling to pay bills, work and attend class, it could make or break the path to a college degree.

W. Blames H.W. For Our Economic Mess

Oliver Stone's movie "W." purports that a lot of conflict occurred between George H.W. Bush and his miserable failure of a son. A lot of that takes place in our President's earlier years, but as we can clearly tell today, there's still something between the two. The outgoing Executive is doing a round of interviews and is spreading the blame for his mess as fast as he can, including a little mud set aside for dear old Dad.

From ABC News:

"I think when the history of this period is written, people will realize a lot of the decisions that were made on Wall Street took place over a decade or so, before I arrived," he said.
Karl Rove likes his fuzzy math, but a third grader can tell me that a decade or so (eight to ten years) minus the year Bush was elected (2000) equals approximately 1988 to 1992. When that kid studies social sciences later this year, he or she can tell you who was President at that time.

Olbermann Catches O'Reilly's Contradiction On Guantanamo

Not that it is too hard to call bullshit on Bill O'Reilly, but Olbermann did just that on his show yesterday over remarks made about Guantanamo Bay. It's a tricky subject for Bill O....then again, so is pretty much every topic that he opens his mouth about.

The Latest From The Fightin' 11th Senate District

With only a few affidavit ballots to count, the final tally is going to come down to what happens in court. Padavan's lead has gone from the seven hundreds, to the four hundreds, back to the seven hundreds and now somewhere in the five hundreds. Nearly two thousand ballots must be examined and how that turns out is ultimately up to a bunch of lawyers and a judge.

From The Daily Politics:

The players in the fight over the 11th SD recount - now almost a full month old - are due back in court at 2 p.m. this afternoon, and the focus has now shifted to some 1,750 to 2,000 ballots that were ruled invalidated by the Board of Elections back before the recanvass began.

If you ask the Democrats, this is a perfectly reasonable request and to deny it would be a move to disenfranchise voters and an act of desperation by the other side, which wants the recount to end while incumbent GOP Sen. Frank Padavan is 580 votes ahead with just 252 paper ballots left in the so-called "box."

The Republicans, of course, say it's completely out-of-the-ordinary move and a desperate, hail-Mary measure by the Democrats who know their candidate, Coundilman Jim Gennaro, is unlikely to win.

Obviously there is plenty of politics on the side for the media and blogs (myself included) to lap up. While the Republicans currently have the lead, like I've said before, nothing is set in stone and until everything is examined, the winner is still unknown. There's plenty more drama in Liz's story, so have fun with that...I just wish they'd count the ballots that show the voters who intended to go for Jim or Frank, add em' up and let us know already.

Joe Bruno's Transparency Trick Foiled By Empire Center

I read this little gem last night by E.J. McMahon that shows with a little hard work, you can do an end-run around politicians that try to deceive the public they are supposed to be serving. The Times article yesterday featuring Joe Bruno was amusing in that his responses were so blatantly smug and arrogant. The irony of the piece is not to be missed, especially with Bruno's long history of doing things in secret and kept away from every New Yorker outside his office. Here is McMahon's reply to Bruno's phony attempt at making government more open and accountable.

From The Empire Center:

Today's New York Times profile of the ex-leader (here) highlights the irony that Bruno, who had to be sued before he would release details of pork-barrel expenditures during his last term, is now "preaching the virtues of smaller, leaner, more accountable government" in his new role as chief executive of an infotech and software consulting firm. And it recounts the following:

Mr. Bruno, for example, was the first Senate leader to require the release of every internal expenditure made by the Senate.

But those reports are published only every six months, in a book format that makes it extremely difficult to examine the spending in any systematic way. (Asked about it, Mr. Bruno joked, "You noticed that, huh?")

Well, here at the Empire Center, we sure noticed. To penetrate the Legislature's deliberate opacity, we translated all the Senate and Assembly expenditure reports into searchable databases at

Memo to Times reporter Nick Confessore: you'll find those reports at this page.

Memo to former Senator Bruno: nice try.
Nice try indeed Mr. Bruno. Joe may not realize, but the age of the internet is a beautiful thing. Transparency and accountability will come to Albany, whether crooked politicians such as Bruno like it or not. Now let's see Confessore publish those reports in the Times. I for one will be anxiously waiting to see them for all to see.

Tales From The Loony Right

If you want to know how to remain irrelevant on the political right for the next four to eight years, follow the advice of John Ziegler. He's definitely going nowhere fast.

Obama Asks Governors To Help Craft Economic Stimulus

One of the hallmarks of the Bush Administration was that George always went with his gut (controlled by Dick Cheney and other neo-cons, but that's besides the point). That type of thinking complete lack of thought that went into decision-making has completely screwed our country over the last eight years. So with the grown-ups coming to town in forty-eight days, we're going to get a President that actually listens to people, such as our nation's governors that have been pleading for assistance.

From CNN:

Obama and Biden told those at the National Governors Association meeting that the federal government needs to build a deeper relationship with the governors in order to put America on the path to long-term prosperity.

"Change is not going to come from Washington alone," Obama said.

"It's going to come from all of you. It will come from a White House and statehouses all across the country that are working together, and that's the kind of partnership I that I intend to forge as president of the United States," Obama said at the conference in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. "I hope that this is the beginning of laying that foundation."

Obama said he wants the governors to help draft his economic plan instead of just helping to implement it.
While Bush stayed nice and cozy inside his bubble, President Obama is committed to staying open and listening to leaders that must balance their budgets no matter what. In these times, with credit card companies restricting credit to the tune of $2 trillion dollars our Federal Government must step up and help those affected by budget cuts on the state level. Plenty of money has been wasted on the banks thanks to clowns like Bernanke and Paulson, now it is time to make some of that Federal money count, at a more local level.

Chambliss Cruises To Victory

Now that the last Senate seat has been voted on (not counting the recounters in Minnesota) the Republicans can say (and probably will) that December is a great month for them. Of course, McCain won Georgia handily and Chambliss nearly won a majority last month. Run-offs generally have lower turnout numbers so yesterday was even tougher for Jim Martin to overcome.

From the AP:

ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia Republican Sen. Saxby Chambliss handed the GOP a firewall against Democrats eager to flex their newfound political muscle in Washington, winning a bruising runoff battle Tuesday night that had captured the national limelight. Chambliss' victory thwarted Democrats' hopes of winning a 60 seat filibuster-proof majority in the Senate. It came after a bitter month long runoff against Democrat Jim Martin that drew political luminaries from both parties to the state and flooded the airwaves with fresh attack ads weeks after campaigns elsewhere had ended.
It was quite the campaign after the campaign but no matter how much Martin tried, it was too hard to even come close to Saxby Chambliss. Nationally, Democrats have ample opportunities to reach 60 and beyond in 2010. As for 2008, we couldn't have made the Senate filibuster-proof anyways because Lieberman is a shaky vote and not every Senator will toe the party line on each and every bill (that goes especially for Democrats). So that issue doesn't concern me too much based on yesterday's outcome. What is sad is that Georgia returned a degenerate man to the Senate by the name of Saxby Chambliss, I hope they come to their senses when he faces the voters again in six years.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Do You Care About Health Care? Let Obama Know!

Obama's site, has gotten plenty of responses on what to do and what Americans' concerns are, but I'm sure there are more opinions out there. So let's tell his team what we want!

Lawsuit Against The Campaign Finance Board Gains Speed

When the City Council decided to trample the will of the voters in New York when they passed the term limits extension, they probably expected some outrage but no real resistance. With lawsuits against the decision in the courts, talk of overriding the bill in the Statehouse (unlikely to go anywhere, but never say never) and challengers popping up to do battle with the Bloomberg 29, the heat is truly on. Now those politicians that were starting to run for higher office but are now going with a safer re-election bid have another hurdle to jump.

From Dan Jacoby at The Daily Gotham:

On the same day that Mayor Bloomberg signed the term limits extension into law (and held that mockery of a "hearing"), the Campaign Finance Board issued an "Advisory Opinion" in which they gave people who had spent a lot of money on higher office a "do over" if they choose to run for their current seat.

It's a clearly and obviously illegal ruling, to anyone who bothers to read NYC's campaign finance law, something the CFB theoretically should have done. For those who haven't read the law, ask yourself if high-spending incumbents should be allowed to pretend they didn't spend the money, just so that they can get your tax money to spend on their campaigns, and so that their opponents' spending was limited while they went crazy. Ask yourself if the campaign finance system, which was supposedly designed to level the playing field, should be [ab]used to tilt that playing field instead.

As Liz notes, the CFB says they're just trying to make things fair. The problem with their "leveling" of the playing field, is that it gives an edge to elected officials that already starting from higher ground. That is why several challengers in next year's Council races have signed onto this lawsuit and according to Jacoby, the fairest thing for the voters would be to quash the CFB's recent decision and let the rules stand as they were before.

Pro-Impeachment Ornament To Hang On White House Christmas Tree

Amazingly, it is December already and 2008 is coming to an end. Of course that means we're in the throes of the holiday season and for those of the Christian faith, spruce and pine trees are being dressed up in millions of homes across the country.

Over at the White House, George and Laura's last tree will be adorned with a very special ornament care of an artist in Seattle. That is, at least until they get wind of this story that sweeping the blogs today.

From The Washington Post:

When Deborah Lawrence got the invitation from the White House, the Seattle-based artist decided to make a lefty political statement.

But she never expected it would hang on the official Christmas tree.

Laura Bush asked members of Congress to pick local painters to decorate ornaments for this year's 20-foot Fraser fir in the Blue Room. The globes (to be unveiled by the first lady tomorrow) are supposed to showcase something special about each congressional district. Washington state's Rep. Jim McDermott contacted a local arts organization, which asked Lawrence, a collage artist, to create the local entry.

"I was at first nauseated, then realized it was an opportunity," said Lawrence, 55, who frequently combines politics and satire in her work and saw this as the perfect way "to highlight Jim McDermott because he's a hero of mine."

Now that is an early, heartwarming Christmas story! The White House claims they'll leave it up but you never know how Bush will take the news of a little artistic ornament that speaks truth inside the Bush's current residence.

Chambliss Lies About His Record On Social Security

As I type, voters are heading to the polls down in Georgia to decide whether Chambliss returns to Washington or Jim Martin replaces him to change one corrupted seat in the Senate. Last night, in a bid to woo Georgians that want to keep social security as it is, he lied about his pro-privatization record, contradicting a statement he made this July.

Bruno's Reformation? Hell Will Freeze Over First

Joe Bruno may not be one of the three men in the proverbial room anymore, but that doesn't mean he's stopped adhering to a similar way of doing business. While he is busy paying in and out of state lawyers to keep the FBI off his trail, seventy-nine year old Joe is working hard to lobby for his friends. That isn't too surprising, but what the company in question is hawking is quite hilarious.

From The NY Times:

Over the nearly 14 years he served as Senate majority leader, Mr. Bruno became to some critics one of the symbols of Albany’s secrecy, inefficiency and profligacy. Now, as the chief executive of CMA Consulting Services, an information technology and software firm based just outside Albany, Mr. Bruno is preaching the virtues of smaller, leaner, more accountable government. (The aforementioned Web site, by the way, is called Project Sunlight.)

Where Mr. Bruno once steered hundreds of millions of dollars in economic development money to his suburban Albany district, he now pitches municipal agencies on how to save money by switching to paperless payroll systems.

The man who went to court rather than reveal details of the Senate’s pork-barrel spending now speaks proudly of his company’s role in designing a program for the state comptroller that allows reporters or the public to examine any contract between a state agency and a vendor.
The Times does a good job of fleshing out the irony in the interview and as you read it, you can tell Bruno could care less how people feel about what he's doing and how he goes about it. In a nutshell, the lobbying he's doing now comes naturally to him and whether he's selling this technology or pork bellies, it really doesn't matter. The response to his critics really says it all.

“Bruno wasn’t some rank-and-file legislator,” said Blair Horner, the legislative director for the New York Public Interest Research Group. “The bottom-line corporate reason is, they’re hoping that he will fatten the bottom line, that his personal relationships will help them to keep and expand the amount of government contract work.”

Indeed, some do not buy Mr. Bruno’s new enthusiasm for transparent government or his claims that it is consistent with policies he advocated as senator.

Mr. Bruno, for example, was the first Senate leader to require the release of every internal expenditure made by the Senate.

But those reports are published only every six months, in a book format that makes it extremely difficult to examine the spending in any systematic way. (Asked about it, Mr. Bruno joked, “You noticed that, huh?”)
Yeah Mr. Bruno, we've noticed, but unfortunately for those that truly believe in good government, it is nearly too late to hold him accountable for all of his secretive actions. Now the focus has to be on the here and now, and hopefully the time of Joe Bruno will come to an end shortly after the man himself leaves Albany.

UES Fundraiser For Tony Avella Tonight!

That's right boys and girls, tonight on the Upper East Side the one and only outspoken Tony Avella will be the guest of honor in support of his bid to be our next Mayor. After eight years of the reprehensible Giuliani and several under plutocratic Bloomberg, New York City needs a progressive at the helm and overall, Tony is that guy. While other candidates are asking for a grand or two, all that is requested to attend tonight is a mere twenty-five dollars (or as much as you want up to the limit).

Via Evite:


Join your fellow Progressives!

Meet and greet Councilman Tony Avella, Candidate for Mayor 2009, at a fundraiser party on December 2nd from 6:00 to 8:00 PM, 2008.

Suggested Contribution: $25/person minimum. Make your check payable to Tony Avella 2009 and send to Tony Avella 2009 PO Box 570052 Whitestone, NY 11357.

Payment accepted at door.

Council Member Tony Avella is a fighter for our city who stands up for what is right. He has spoken forcefully against an extension of term limits, fought against over development while assuring landmark preservation in our communities, and advocated for reform and more transparency in city government. Tony leads the way in the City Council in supporting animal welfare issues, including a ban on the inhumane horse-drawn carriage industry and support for humane education and pets in housing. He has been a fighter on veterans' issues and benefits. And he is committed to keeping New York City taxes as low as possible. Tony Avella is dedicated to ensuring strong and vibrant communities and better quality of life and he stands for issues that matter for real New Yorkers. He truly is a public servant and a tireless advocate for us all.

Light Refreshments & Cash bar

Joann Robertozzi, an upcoming singer, actress, producer and one part dynamo of an exciting trio, Tre Bella, will perform. They just finished a very successful engagement at the Showboat Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City. And they have just finished recording their first CD.
Yeah, you can give more than $25 and if you are already busy tonight but want to help, check out his website and donate! Even if you can't spare a few dollars, give some time by signing up here. While the 2008 grassroots work is almost done, there will be plenty to do in 2009 and New York needs as much progressive activism as we can get. Supporting Tony is a good way to start.

Conservative Preacher Gives Bush A Medal Of P.E.A.C.E.

Rick Warren gave George Bush a medal for his efforts to fight AIDS during his term. He has done good work in this field, but the name of the medal is highly inappropriate since he helped kill more than a million Iraqis and thousands of our troops thanks to his lust for war in Iraq.

Padavan Tries To Invalidate Student Voters At St. John's

Many people in New York have written off Jim Gennaro's chances at winning his challenge to Frank Padavan. The main reason local reporters are calling this (almost) over is that Padavan increased his lead to over 600 votes with only 3,000 approximately left to count. Two-thirds of those are challenged ballots and it looks like a few were objected to by Padavan were cast by students at St. John's.

From The NY Times:

The unresolved State Senate contest between Senator Frank Padavan, a Republican, and his Democratic challenger, James F. Gennaro, moves on Tuesday into a Queens courtroom, where nearly a dozen college students have been subpoenaed to verify their residences.

Republican lawyers have challenged the votes of students, mostly from St. John’s University, saying that they filled out affidavit ballots with addresses that were not their permanent residences. In the paper ballot count, Mr. Padavan is leading by about 600 votes, but about 1,000 more ballots remained to be counted and the validity of an additional 2,000 must still be reviewed.[...]

Steven H. Richman, the general counsel at the New York City Board of Elections, said that under state law, a student can vote from a polling place near either his or her permanent address or a college address.

“A college student has the option,” Mr. Richman said. “If you’re living on campus, you have the right to register and vote from that district. Or you can register from your parents’ address. You just can’t vote in two places.”
If Padavan is challenging the right for college students to vote, I can only imagine who else he's contesting. Now a dozen or so votes will only make a small dent in the vote deficit Gennaro has, but only after all those ballots Padavan is scared to see added to the tally will we truly be able to call the race.

Monday, December 01, 2008

Bush Sheds Crocodile Tears Over Disasters He Helped Create

With less than fifty days to go, George Bush decided on trying to rebuild his shattered image. See, he thinks that history will remember him far differently than how we know him now. Bush believes a bit of faux humility and "compassion" for the plight of the nation will warm a few hearts. The problem is he is completely full of shit.

From RawStory:

He apologized for the economic crisis, saying, "I'm sorry it's happening, of course... Obviously I don't like the idea of people losing jobs, or being worried about their 401(k)s. On the other hand, the American people got to know that we will safeguard the system. I mean, we're in. And if we need to be in more, we will."
Of course, he was presented with information long ago that the mortgage crisis was going to explode across the economic spectrum. Yet times were good for his financial market buddies, so Bush let the "good times" continue until the fiscal bombs went off. And speaking of bombs, he tried to escape the blame on Iraq as well.

"I wish the intelligence had been different, I guess," Bush tells ABC's Charlie Gibson in an interview to be broadcast tonight, and said he didn't know if he'd have gone to war if he didn't think there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

"That is a do-over that I can't do," Bush said.

He said incorrect intelligence about Saddam Hussein's arsenal was the "biggest regret of all the presidency."[...]

"A lot of people put their reputations on the line and said the weapons of mass destruction is a reason to remove Saddam Hussein," Bush said. "It wasn't just people in my administration. A lot of members in Congress, prior to my arrival in Washington, D.C., during the debate on Iraq, a lot of leaders of nations around the world were all looking at the same intelligence."

"I listened to a lot of voices, but ultimately, I listened to this voice: I'm not going to let your son die in vain," he said. "I believe we can win. I'm going to do what it takes to win in Iraq."
If Bush had listened to voices that weren't inside his bubble, then maybe he would have done differently. Though there was a reason the bubble was in place, specifically because he only wanted to hear what sounded good to get his war on. Bush can claim to "feel bad" about how America has rapidly regressed over the eight years of his tenure, but when push comes to shove, all he cares about is himself and a select few that helped him get to his position of power.

Molest Much Senator Chambliss?

I called Saxby Chambliss a creep in my last post and then wondered if that was a little over the line. Booman posted this ad of Saxby's earlier from Thanksgiving and now there's no doubt in my mind:

Someone should call the District Attorney over the last five seconds of that disgrace of an advertisement and a nasty human being.

Jim Martin Needs Your Help Now!

It may be nearly a month since we elected Barack Obama as our next President, but another crucial election warrants your attention for tomorrow. Down in Georgia, voters will be determining if their blatantly racist and corrupt freshman Senator Saxby Chambliss will hold onto his seat. Jim Martin is challenging him and hoping to aid Obama's agenda in the next Congress, but only if we all get together to help. All eyes will be on this race tomorrow and the outcome is still undetermined.

From The Atlanta Journal Constitution:

Tuesday’s runoff between U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) and Democratic challenger Jim Martin has attracted everyone from former President Bill Clinton to GOP presidential nominee John McCain as both parties square off for one final round this election season.

Both Democrats and Republicans contend that nothing less than the future of the nation is at stake. Elect Martin, Democrats say, and voters will clear the path for the substantive political change President-elect Barack Obama promised. Re-elect Chambliss, Republicans counter, and the Senate will have enough GOP votes to stop Democrats from taking the country too far to the left.

“This is the big one,” former U.S. Sen. Zell Miller (D-Ga.) told 200 people last week at a Chambliss rally in Gainesville. “This is a history-changing election. The world is watching this election.”

The Georgia runoff has become a focus of post-Nov. 4 national politics as Democrats inch closer to a 60-vote “super majority” in the Senate, enough to prevent GOP filibusters that could stymie key pieces of Obama’s agenda or even derail U.S. Supreme Court nominees. Democrats now have 58 seats; only Georgia’s runoff and an ongoing recount in Minnesota remain.

Minnesota's voters have to wait for the recount to end and the legal challenges to conclude before knowing whether Coleman or Franken will rule the day. In Georgia, it might as well be the day before November 4th all over again. If you live in the state or nearby, head over and help out at one of two dozen campaign offices. If you are farther away like me, donate or help phonebank for Jim.

The Senate will be a far better place without a creep like Saxby Chambliss, make sure to do your small part to make it happen!

Gioia And Felder Go After City's Use Of Bottled Water

Yes, the City Council is a mess but at least two members of the corrupted institution have enough sense to help save NYC some money and help the environment in the process. Councilmen Felder and Gioia are sponsoring legislation to eliminate more bottled water use than before. The Council is already bottle-free, but city agencies still have some work to do.

From The NY Daily News:

City Councilmen Eric Gioia (D-Queens) and Simcha Felder (D-Brooklyn) will introduce a bill next week that would stop city agencies from buying bottled water and water coolers for workers at city agencies.

The city spends $2.1 million annually on bottled water, according to the Department of Citywide Administrative Services.

"New York City has some of the cleanest water in the country, and we should use it," said Gioia.

He noted that the move would also save on storage and disposal costs and help the environment by reducing waste and truck traffic for water-delivery services.

At least something good is going on at City Hall. With all of their problems, hopefully the rest of the Council can get together and pass this bill. Unless you work for Aquafina or Fiji, this is a no-brainer and completely not controversial, so it should get to the Mayor's desk quickly.

The Aftermath Of Mumbai

Sunday's political talk shows were all focused on what happened in Mumbai, who orchestrated the attacks and what to do about it:

S.I. Advance Finds NY City Council In Disarray

There was plenty to be grateful for during Thanksgiving (and every day of course) but a working City Council in New York City is not one of them. In a lengthy report the Staten Island Advance has found that the legislature in our city is divided and broken over the term limits fiasco. Not only were things heated between members of the Council last month, but continuing even today with the budget battle looming.

From The S.I. Advance:

In the aftermath of the most divisive battle in recent City Hall history, many members of the City Council who spoke with the Advance said they find it difficult, if not impossible, to trust some of their colleagues. A few even described the institution itself as broken -- that now, more than ever, people seem to be just going through the motions.

The question is, how will that affect the way they work together? Over the next few months, while they negotiate with Bloomberg to finalize a plan to chop hundreds of millions of dollars from spending in this year's budget and even more from the budget for the next fiscal year, will the tough choices they make represent the best choices for the people of this city -- or the deals brokered simply for political advantage?

Brokered deals bred out of ethically-challenged, smoke-filled rooms? In our Council?!? Can I make sarcasm drip out of your monitor on this one? Seriously though, we have long known about how City Hall works and the fact that the term limits extension bill passed is a testament to just how broken it is. What makes me hopeful (to a degree) with all of this mess is that there are actually Council Members that realize how flawed the system is, particularly the ones that voted against the Mayor's undemocratic 845A legislation and that heads must roll for it.

As the Advance notes, Tony Avella and others understand that those that voted for selfish reasons need to be voted out of office. Now that we know what's going on, it is time to act. Every single Council Member must join the thousands of New Yorkers who demand change from their government. We must work together to find challengers to the Bloomberg 29 and work as hard as we can to get competent people into the chamber who will represent their constituents for a change and not the whims of an egotistical plutocrat such as Michael Bloomberg.

Taxation With Representation Could Be A Reality In D.C. Soon

Since its inception as a Federal District, Washington, D.C. has been the home to our national government but the people who live there have no real representation as do the states in our union. Eleanor Holmes Norton has been a delegate to the House of Represenatives for quite sometime now but cannot vote in the legislative body. With Obama coming to town and a much more Democratic Senate in place, she might just get the Colbert bump she's been looking for.

From The Washington Post:

Voting rights in Congress for the District of Columbia is another example. Legislation to expand the House of Representatives from 435 to 437 seats by giving the District and Utah an additional vote each were three votes shy of the 60 needed to end a filibuster in September 2007. Eight Republicans voted with the Democratic majority, which is 51 to 49 and includes two independents.

Come January, seven Republicans who voted against the compromise plan to allow Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) to become a full-fledged member of the House will be replaced by Democrats. Aides said they are not clear when the legislation will be reconsidered, but some District voting-rights activists are so confident of passage that they are advocating a push for two District seats in the Senate. Norton, however, favors seeking just the House seats.

Well, incremental change is better than none at all. Adding two Senate seats is virtually impossible, because there is no room for compromise with the filibuster-happy Republicans. Unless Utah, Wyoming or Idaho is willing to split itself to create two "red" seats, there's no way Joe Lieberman and the GOP will vote for that. Tis' much better to stick with obtaining representation in the House.

DC Vote has been hard at work to get Congress to recognize the half-million or so that live in the District for a long time now, but Congress has been unwilling to budge. Now is the time for a change and a large push from the community might just be able to make it happen. The big question is, what will they put on their license plates once Norton becomes a full-fledged Congresswoman?

Tom Duane Sends A Message To Pedro Espada

Not only is Senator Tom Duane not concerned about the Gang of Three, he rubs it in their faces that being a Republican is a bad idea here in New York. Jeff Campagna follows it up at this weekend's Same-Sex Marriage forum with a pro-Democratic message.

While Espada hasn't shown he's coming to his senses anytime soon, it is comforting to see the others start to come around, regardless of the language they use about the matter.

Obama And Clinton Make It Official Today

After two weeks of speculation, rumors and denials, Barack Obama will make it official and announce Hillary Clinton as his Secretary of State. Its been a long time coming (in the political world that is) and all the behind-the-scenes finagling has finally straightened all the kinks out. Husband and former President Bill Clinton has acceeded to Barack's demands to open all relevant financial information. Now all we need is the press conference.

From Newsday:

WASHINGTON - Hillary Rodham Clinton will be in Chicago tomorrow for an announcement by President-elect Barack Obama that she will be nominated as secretary of state, a person close to Clinton confirmed to Newsday today.

The widely expected appointment came only after reports that lawyers for the Obama transition team and Clinton's husband, former President Bill Clinton, agreed on a nine-point deal that would result in disclosure of donors to his presidential library and charities.
Obviously Bill was doing whatever it took to assure Hillary got the position. The former President has done a lot of good work with his Global Initiative, but disclosing names and refusing donations from foreign governments is only fair and essential to restoring the faith to our State Department.

Despite their tussles on the campaign trail, having her within the Obama Administration has the ability to do wonders for our country and relationships with other foreign powers. Senator Clinton is a strong woman and should be an excellent Secretary of State just as soon as the Senate approves her nomination.

Sunday, November 30, 2008

NYC Worked Hard For Perks At New Yankee Stadium

Ah damn. I've been out of town for only a few days (relaxing days that they were in a warm clime) and missed so much. Granted it was hard not to watch the terrible tragedy unfold in Mumbai but for the most part I steered clear of politics, opting to read a few books and remembering to be grateful for all that I have in my life. Nevertheless, back here in NYC there is plenty to be outraged over and one instance is continually provoking ire in the Bronx. That would be Yankee Stadium and the Bloomberg Administration's involvement with it.

From The NY Times:

The Bloomberg administration was so intent on obtaining a free luxury suite for its own use at the new Yankee Stadium, newly released e-mail messages show, that the mayor’s aides pushed for a larger suite and free food, and eventually gave the Yankees 250 additional parking spaces in exchange.

The parking spaces were given to the team for the private use of Yankees officials, players and others; the spaces were originally planned for public parking. The city also turned over the rights to three new billboards along the Major Deegan Expressway, and whatever revenue they generate, as part of the deal.

The e-mail messages between the aides to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Yankees executives were obtained and released by Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky, Democrat of Westchester, who questions whether taxpayers were adequately protected in the city’s deal with the team.

Obviously that sense of entitlement doesn't simply stop with the Mayor, the attitude is commonplace throughout his side of City Hall. To make deals like this and work so hard to ensure your piece of the pie while the city has many more pressing matters in front of it is a travesty. They're so busy hammering out perks for themselves at Gracie Mansion that the financial toll on the taxpayers of New York that are helping to subsidize the project are but a mere afterthought, if that.

The whole affair stinks to high hell and instead of being ashamed of their actions, Bloomberg's aides try to push the matter aside by saying that every city official gets perks like these established for the Mayor's office. I really don't care if there are benefits for city officials in Cairo, Kansas City or Brussels, here in New York City we must be able to trust our government to do the right thing. Not by always looking out for the few in the office but for the city they have been hired to work for.