Thursday, June 11, 2009

Ed Koch Chimes In On NY State Senate Debacle

Eliot Spitzer gave his two cents on how the coup was actually a good thing for democracy. Former Mayor Ed Koch on the other hand, thinks the whole mess makes us look like a national laughingstock, not some rebirth of the democratic process.

Tasini For Senate, Part Deux

While the potential candidates to primary State Senators Monserrate and Espada are sorted out, it looks like we have a definite primary challenge to the recently appointed Senator Gillibrand. Jonathon Tasini has jumped in the race to be, as he claims, the progressive candidate. The press release, or shall I say diary is strong and to the point.

From DailyKos:

I believe New York voters deserve a choice. We live in a democracy, and elections should be about addressing the issues, not about party insiders "clearing the field" for a favored candidate. If party insiders had "cleared the field" in 2008, Barack Obama would not be president today.

New York--and the nation--are at a critical point. We are living through the most unprecedented financial crisis in our lifetime--and, at the same time, I see a great opportunity to change the country.

There are great choices to be made--whether and how we will unburden Americans and businesses from the crushing costs of obscene health care costs (I have been an unwavering supporter of single-payer, "Medicare for All"), whether workers will truly share in the great productivity they have created over the past three decades, whether workers will have the right to join a union, and whether we will live up to the promise of "equal justice under the law" by granting marriage equality throughout the land.

I am the only progressive in the race. And I believe, as do my supporters, that we have a chance to move the Democratic Party in a progressive direction. New Yorkers will have a very clear choice in 2010--a choice of values and principles.

Of course that all sounds great, but can a guy that won 17% of the Democratic primary vote take on another establishment candidate? The answer is probably not. Of course anything can happen, and as Tasini notes, Obama did overtake Clinton about a year ago today. Yet Tasini is no Obama and as much as his ideas warm the hearts of progressives everywhere (or not), what anti-Gillibrand forces need is a strong challenger and at this point, the consensus is for Carolyn Maloney to spearhead the effort.

A.M.A. Still Doesn't Understand How Important Health Care Is To Americans

For decades now, the American Medical Association has opposed any comprehensive government program to fix the ills of our nation's health care situation. As millions more become uninsured and many that are lose benefits and pay more to insurance companies to receive less, the A.M.A. remains steadfast in their opposition to real reform. Of course there are other physician's groups that do want single payer or public option programs, but the problem is that insurance and pharmaceutical industries have their tentacles extended into almost every facet of American medicine. The A.M.A. in turn gives and has given mixed messages to the public on what they think is best for us.

From The Huffington Post:

Historically and philosophically, however, AMA's opposition is hardly newsworthy. Despite a lofty reputation and purported commitment to universal coverage, AMA has fought almost every major effort at health care reform of the past 70 years. The group's reputation on this matter is so notorious that historians pinpoint it with creating the ominous sounding phrase "socialized medicine" in the early decades of the 1900s.

"The AMA used it to mean any kind of proposal that involved an increased role for the government in the health care system," Jonathan Oberlander, a professor of health policy at the University of North Carolina, told NPR in a 2007 interview. "They also used it to mean things in the private system that they didn't like. So, at one point, HMOs were a form of socialized medicine."

Indeed, the role played by AMA throughout health care reform battles past has often been primarily as the defender of the status quo. In 1935, fears of an AMA backlash helped persuade Franklin Roosevelt's advisers to drop a health care article from the Social Security package -- fearful that the opposition would sink the legislation altogether.

The problem the A.M.A. refuses to see is that there is a problem with the status quo. The status quo kills thousands of people a year, leaves thousands more unnecessarily sick and has given our country a crisis of gargantuan proportions. The A.M.A. may have a quarter of a million doctors but tens of millions of Americans demand Congress help fix the problem that corporate America has created in our health care system. I would hope that Congress knows which number is greater.

I Never Thought I'd Watch This Video

Amongst all the bedlam up in Albany, the recently retired (for whichever reason) Joe Bruno has responded to Governor Paterson's request for help to pass same-sex marriage. Instead of ignoring the weakly-positioned Paterson, Bruno actually decided to help:

Though who's to say if this will have any impact, the Senate is in complete chaos and what happens next is anyone's guess.

It's All About The Billionaires Baby

Forget the "benjamins", in New York power and influence requires the cash that only billionaires can muster. Due to an extremely dysfunctional and corrupt state government, the people who have power are those that can spend gobs of money. With weak leadership from the Governor and the Senate Majority Leader Malcolm Smith, politicians who regard ethics as a joke and reform as a campaign slogan are willing and able to through a wrench in the system if the price is right.

El Diario/La Prensa highlights two of those billionaires:

Golisano had a tantrum over the state budget earlier in the year because one of its outcomes is that billionaires like him would have to pay more taxes. He publicly announced that he would leave New York as a result and move to Florida. Instead, he encouraged a takeover and promised to back the ambitions of self-serving politicians.

Apparently, Golisano and others dismissed the desires of millions of New Yorkers who pulled levers on election day last fall. Why respect a mandate from voters when you can buy a politician and plot a takeover – all in the humorous guise of reform?

But Golisano is not the only billionaire dismissing the expressed wishes of voters.

Bloomberg pushed an operation to overturn term limits so he could run for office again. This, despite the fact that voters had already decided in favor of these limits in referendums. As part of this operation, heads of nonprofits organizations were called by Bloomberg administration officials to testify in favor of the City Council overturning these limits.

It can be stated enough about how corrupting money is in politics and especially in our state. El Diario/La Prensa has given up hope with these legislators and their sugar daddies and rightly states that it is up to us, the people of New York to push back. First we have to vote people like Monserrate and Espada out, then we must advocate like we have never advocated before and get a clean election law passed like the one that exists in Arizona and Maine. Without a comprehensive overhaul in that area, the Bloombergs and Golisanos will always be able to crush the will of the people with the will of their own.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Now Can We Take Right Wing Hate Seriously?

Today's news brings a sad story about an old, white-supremacist man that had so much hate in his frail heart that he decided to go to a holocaust museum in order to shoot and kill people. For James Von Brunn, this wasn't just a freak occurrence, he's been a noted anti-semite and white supremacist for quite some time.

The Sunday before last another long time right-winger by the name of Scott Roeder committed his final act of hate by shooting and killing a doctor who happened to be a rare provider of late-term abortions (for the health of the mother). Apparently Roeder had been going after the late Dr. Tiller for months if not years and maintained contacts with rightwing, reactionary groups that oppose abortion rights, by all means necessary we now know.

Now cowardly acts like that of Von Brunn and Roeder do not generally happen as frequently as once every other week, but it certainly goes to show that right-wing terrorists do exist and are a serious problem in our country. Unfortunately when Obama's Homeland Security Security Janet Napolitano released a report (pdf!) saying as much, Republicans came out of the woodwork to denounce her. For some odd reason, the onslaught was just too much for the Obama Administration and the report was tamped down and Napolitano even apologized, but the truthfulness of it was still there. If anyone needs to apologize, it would be the GOP talking heads that beat up on Napolitano and her report...but since we are talking about sniveling and cowardly pundits, the chances of that apology coming are about as good as Liz Cheney telling the truth about torture, so I won't be waiting around.

Espada On "Teaching Manners"

Espada claimed during his election campaign that he and Obama were going to bring about change. Yet while Obama is busy cleaning up Bush's disaster he left in Washington, Espada is making a filthy mess up in Albany. Here's a video of the "manners" the first man in lineto be Governo has for the people of New York:

Duane Considering A Deal With The Devil

The story has been told a million different ways, but boils down to this; somebody wants something, doesn't see it happening in their current circumstances and then a dubious looking character comes along promising them their dream come true as long as they do that tiny little thing often referred to as giving up your soul. Dealing with the devil is almost always a losing proposition, yet Senator Tom Duane, of all people is considering leaving the Democratic caucus to join hands with noted criminals Senators Monserrate and Espada.

His reasoning is that he thinks he'll get a vote on gay marriage:

One of the senators who is believed to be considering breaking ranks with the Senate Democratic conference, Thomas K. Duane of Manhattan, would not say where he planned to cast his political allegiance.

“I am not considering anything but trying to get passed all the legislation I’ve spent my whole life fighting for,” he said. Mr. Duane, who did not attend meetings with his Democratic colleagues on Tuesday, said he had spent all day in discussions with senators from both parties.

Mr. Duane is the sponsor of legislation that would legalize same-sex marriage in New York. He has been working to garner the 32 votes necessary to pass the bill, and said he would continue to do so.
There's already an excellent discussion going on at the Albany Project about this possible defection. My opinion is that if Duane defects the chances of him getting marriage passed with Skelos/Espada in charge is slim to nil. Espada can say he'll put marriage to a vote, but I wouldn't trust anything that comes out of that man's mouth. Duane would also be giving up every other issue important to Democrats and certainly so to the many Democrats that call themselves his constituents. The natural effect of that would be a primary challenge with serious teeth (already coming for Espada and Monserrate). I know Duane passionately wants same-sex marriage passed, but this is not the way to do it.

Bloomberg And Quinn Extend Tax Breaks To Corporate America

While Bloomberg's campaign sends out gobs of propaganda and Christine Quinn gets in front of the camera (or at a podium for a large rally) to secure the support of the voters, what they are doing in the Council is far more important to the future of our city. In the last few years, corporate America has used NYC as their base of operations as they pilfered the foundations of the American economy. So how do the two of the most powerful political actors in the city wish to treat corporations?

From The Village Voice:

You might think that the middle of a recession spawned by massive corporate malfeasance wouldn't be the best time to propose a giant tax break for corporations. But then, if you're Mayor Mike Bloomberg and Council Speaker Christine Quinn, you might not. Crain's reports today that the dynamic duo of City Hall has begun a major push to cut taxes for city corporations by $2.7 billion over the next decade, a gift that could eventually be worth more than half a billion dollars a year to city businesses.

What's at stake here is something called the "single-sales factor," a tax provision that went into effect at the state level this year. Under city law (and the old state law), corporations with interstate operations pay New York taxes based on a formula factoring in their local payroll, local sales, and how property they own here; the new rule would base it on sales alone. "Switching to a Single Sales Factor," said Quinn in a statement, "will encourage more companies to create jobs here and lead to greater diversification of our economy."

Simplified taxes, more jobs — sounds great, right? Except that, as "Big-Box Swindle" author Stacy Mitchell has noted, single-sales factor is actually a loophole that large corporations have been increasingly agitating for to save them bucketloads of dough. Since states can only tax companies with a physical presence in the state, switching to a sales-only tax means, writes Mitchell, that "for companies that have factories or offices in only a handful of states, but sales everywhere, the result of this change is that a large share of their profit becomes 'nowhere' income — income that isn't taxed by any state."

As the Voice points out, experts have already debunked this "job creation" tactic as a way to solely increase the profits of corporations that have been taking advantage of us for decades. If there is any real reason why Quinn and Bloomberg support this, it is for campaign donations and helping the people of his class, respectively.

So it is safe to say that Quinn and Bloomberg care about helping wealthy corporations. Yet corporations, aside from individuals that run them and profit off of them, do not vote. Beyond the efforts of unending campaign literature in our mailboxes and strongly-worded stump speeches that this City Hall duo make, when it comes to economic policy, their actions show how they feel about the rest of us. From that, New Yorkers are going to have to make a choice in the city elections if we want politicians who are going to stand up for corporations that have put us in the dire straits we are now stuck in.

Rachel Covers More Michael Steele Madness

Why on Earth Michael Steele is the way he is, I have no idea. Of course, that doesn't stop him from acting so ridiculously and consequently, doesn't stop the rest of us from covering the fool who happens to head the Republican National Committee.

Dean Endorses Two Council Candidates In The Same Race

Howard Dean may be the genius behind the fifty state strategy, but he needs a little help remembering which progressive candidates he endorses. Yesterday all New York City Council candidates began the long and arduous petitioning process and District 39 hopeful Josh Skaller enlisted the Governor for some assistance on the first day out there. Unfortunately, things did not go exactly to plan, which was good news for his rival Brad Lander.

From The Brooklyn Paper:

“I told Brad that I would not endorse [anyone] before I realized that this was Josh’s race,” he said, later adding that he did not have a plan to campaign with Lander as he did with Skaller today. “Brad is a perfectly good candidate. He’s a progressive. Most people like him. So I tried to do what I think was the fair thing, which is to endorse both.”
Well that seems fair enough considering the circumstances. Personally I am behind Josh in this race but honestly as long as Bill de Blasio's replacement is not as slimy as Bill de Blasio, then I'll be satisfied. Lander's statement to the Brooklyn Paper made light of the situation:

For his part, Lander, the former head of the Pratt Center for Community Development, said he was “thrilled to have Gov. Dean’s co-endorsement.”

“He’s a progressive champion on health care and bringing the troops home,” Lander added. “His endorsement shows that there are two strong progressive candidates in the race.”

As long as we get a progressive Council member, then I'm excited for District 39.

Update: Based on this account from the Daily Gotham, I take back anything nice I said about Brad, this is just low and petty politics:

An odd thing happened, though. Working Families Party somehow is turning this visit to personally endorse Josh (where Howard Dean says outright that he thinks Josh can win) into an endorsement for their candidate, Brad Lander. In a letter from Brad Lander's campaign, Dan Cantor of WFP says:

This morning at a press conference in Park Slope, Brad picked up the backing of none other than former Governor, DNC Chair, and Democracy for America founder Howard Dean.

The press conference referred to is the same press conference you see in the video above where Howard Dean endorses Josh. Truth is, Howard Dean had nice things to say about Brad at that press conference. But watch the video. The reason Howard Dean was at that press conference was to endorse Josh Skaller. Dan Cantor doesn't mention that, does he? Nor does he mention that Howard Dean, right after the endorsement, did some campaigning with Josh. Dan Cantor and Brad are misleading people with this. It is true Howard Dean, because he basically didn't realize that Josh and Brad were running against each other, had previously promised Brad he wouldn't endorse in the race. And so there was, buried in the press conference, a backhanded endorsement of Brad to recognize that promise. But to turn a Josh Skaller endorsement press conference into one endorsing Brad Lander is misleading.

We already have plenty of misleading in the Council. What New York needs is an honest activist who will fight for his district and the city as a whole, that candidate is Josh Skaller.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Meet The "Reformational" Pedro Espada Jr.

We've already heard Senator Golden's wonderful statements about Hiram Monserrate, so what do we know about the other soulless turncoat, Pedro Espada? Well, some of the press has already gotten started digging. A few of the items are old news, you know, typical "reform-minded" elected official stuff like not living in the district you represent and not bothering to follow the meager campaign finance laws that New York has on its books.

Then there is the new stuff, the reason (or part there of) why we are in this mess:

ALBANY — State Senator Pedro Espada Jr. requested more than $2 million dollars in Senate earmarks this year for two groups with links to the health care organization that he founded and which appeared to have been created in part to receive such grants, according to several Democratic officials and aides with knowledge of the requests.

But Senate Democrats rejected the grant requests in early April because they could not confirm that the groups were legitimate nonprofit organizations. Around the same time, Mr. Espada began discussions with Senate Republicans to leave the Democratic caucus, ending with the Republicans’ surprise takeover of the Senate on Monday.

At the end of March, Mr. Espada requested $1,348,000 in grants for the Bronx Human Services Council Inc., an organization that registered with the state as a nonprofit organization on March 26, roughly a week before the state budget deal under which the Senate and Assembly were allocated about $170 million in pork-barrel spending, known as member items.

State records indicate that the council is headquartered at the same Bronx address as a clinic that is part of the Soundview HealthCare Network, which Mr. Espada founded. The chairman of the board of Soundview, John A. Feliciano, Jr., is also listed as a special assistant on Mr. Espada’s Senate staff, according to Senate records.

Mr. Espada also requested $875,000 for Green ECO Energy Incorporated, a group that was created on March 19. State records list the contact for the organization as Daniel Pagano, a lawyer who works part-time for Mr. Espada as counsel to the Senate Housing Committee and who is also representing the senator in his ongoing dispute with the state Board of Elections over missing campaign filings.

So "Mr. Reform" didn't get his $2.2+ million in dirty money from the Democrats, so he decided to cast his lot with the Republicans. Espada is so corrupt and so arrogant, he barely even tries to hide the money he is extorting from New York's taxpayers.

Now he's claiming he wants reform in his "coalition government," but really, all he cares about is obtaining more power and enriching himself. He may have a new fancy title in the Senate for the time being, but before long, as fellow Senator Diane Savino told him, "Life is circular, my friend." Circular for Espada means that voters in the Bronx will kick him to the curb next year, where he belongs.

President Obama Touts Pay-Go

This isn't a Monopoly game we're talking about, President Obama is serious about real reform and he is urging Congress to enact "pay-go" so we start reining in the out of control spending:

Some Choice Comments For Monserrate From Sen. Golden

This just has to be printed in full. The Daily Gotham got an anonymous email that clipped together statements, mostly from Republican State Senator Marty Golden, about how he feels about his new colleague, Hiram Monserrate:

''When you let people like Senator Monserrate stay in office,'' said Senator Martin Golden, a Republican from Brooklyn, ''and you do fund-raisers for them, and you pat them on the back and you say, 'Go for it!' you know, there's a disgrace, a disgust, in people across this state.'' (March 25, 2009)

Sen. Martin Golden, a Brooklyn Republican, said Monserrate should resign - and he blasted Democratic leaders for continuing to support Monserrate."If we're going to protect people that would abuse women and abuse anybody in this fashion, there is something wrong with that," he said. (March 24, 2009)

Republicans called for Monserrate's resignation and assailed Smith for not taking further action. "He's going to have to step down," said Sen. Marty Golden, R-Brooklyn. "The longer he stays, the more of a spectacle it is." "Sen. Smith's failure to take action against Sen. Monserrate in the face of this criminal indictment, just one week after hosting a fundraiser on his behalf, clearly sends the wrong message to all New Yorkers," said a statement from two Republican senators, Betty Little of Queensbury and Cathy Young of Olean. (March 24, 2009)

Sadly, I didn't catch the Bruno comments Padavan and Golden made on video. But here's some footage of them railing on Monserrate. Padavan argued that the charges against Velella were "white collar" and therefore didn't take up as much of his time to fight. Golden agreed, saying: "We're not talking about a simple crime. We're talking about three D felonies. We're talking about a serious indictment here." (March 24, 2009)

And then Golden chimed in: "He left because he suspected it. He knew that this was not going away and he wanted to deal with it. He got out of the Senate so he could deal with this issue without being, without the Senate itself being a target." (March 24, 2009)

Sen. Martin Golden (R-Brooklyn) pushed a resolution calling on the newly Democratic-controlled Senate to keep Hiram Monserrate (D-East Elmhurst) - charged with slashing his girlfriend - from being seated before the swearing-in. In 1999 Monserrate, saying he suffered from psychological disorders, quit the NYPD after 11 years, it has been reported. Golden told Newsday that Monserrate's being a former cop had "absolutely nothing" to do with the case. "Domestic violence is a dirty secret throughout society that's been swept under the rug," he said. "Hopefully the courts will deal with this ... If he's guilty he should suffer the consequences." (January 12, 2009)

At the time, Mr. Golden, a Brooklyn Republican, was talking to a group of reporters about why he felt Mr. Monserrate should be turned away. ''I don't think he should be seated,'' Mr. Golden said as Mr. Monserrate approached him and extended his hand, apparently taking Mr. Golden by surprise. The two men shook hands and exchanged brief pleasantries. (January 8, 2009)

Afterward, Golden said he still felt Monserrate was a "ticking time bomb." "It's a pretty significant charge when you break a glass in a woman's face," said Golden, who, like Monserrate, is a former city cop. "To have that hanging over your head and sitting in this body takes this body down a little bit of a notch." (January 8, 2009)

Golden told The Associated Press that the Queens Democrat should have been kept out of the seat Wednesday, and that the pending criminal case involved "an absolutely horrendous assault on a woman." "It definitely takes the institution down and we don't need that," Golden said. (January 7, 2009)

Brooklyn Republican Sen. Martin Golden, a former police officer, said Wednesday he will continue trying to remove Monserrate for what Golden called "an absolutely horrendous assault on a woman." "It definitely takes the institution down and we don't need that," Golden said. "This obviously takes us down a couple of notches." (January 7, 2009)
Now Mr. Monserrate is in Golden's caucus, whether he calls it a "coalition government" or not. Espada, Monserrate and Skelos can play semantics all they want but for all intensive purposes Monserrate has cast his lot with thirty Republicans and whatever you want to call Espada. Of course, Golden has no problems sticking with his comments (but don't expect any new ones), since Monserrate will be kicked out if and when he is convicted for slashing his girlfriend with a broken glass. Still, for Golden (and the rest of the GOP) to even tolerate bringing two criminals into their caucus is revolting. Of course speaking as a Democrat, I'm glad they're off our hands now, so we can finally get real representation for those parts of the Bronx and Queens.

NYC Wants Bloomberg Gone But Doesn't Know His Opponent

The bad news for Democrats in the latest NY1 poll is that the mayor still enjoys a 60% approval rating from New Yorkers. The good news though is that 55% of the same group of respondents want to see him gone. NY1 asked plenty of questions, and it leads to some important answers. If Bill Thompson (or any other candidate) wants to take advantage of the political landscape, he'd better take notice.

From NY1:

The poll shows that while 60 percent of New Yorkers approve of Bloomberg's job performance, 55 percent say the want "someone else" in City Hall next year.

The poll also shows that an overwhelming number of New Yorkers are unfamiliar with Bloomberg's top rival, Democrat Bill Thompson.

The poll surveyed 683 adults throughout New York City with a margin of sampling error of +/-4 percentage points.
The poll is much more detailed inside, showing that Bloomberg's highest negatives come in the area of taxes (remember this?), education and especially the term limit extension fiasco. Seven in ten New Yorkers still want term limits and six in ten disapproved of the mayor and council's egregious action that extended the limit to three terms.

While some people know of Bloomberg's downsides, there are areas that the people are lacking in information. For instance, the poll doesn't even register a blip of outrage over the fact that Bloomberg helped the Yankees receive more than $1.3 billion in taxpayer assistance to build their new stadium and a few hundred million that went to the construction of Citi Field.

Then there's the fact that hardly anybody knows that Thompson is actually running for mayor. With less than five months before the election, 86% of surveyed New Yorkers have no opinion of Bill Thompson. That means the front runner has some serious work to do so that the overwhelmingly Democratic town understands that there is a Democrat in the race that is opposing an plutocratic "independent" Bloomberg.

Part of the problem is a broken down and bent out of shape party structure that can't seem to get fully behind a Democratic candidate. Even the current Democratic Council Speaker can't bring herself to support the eventual nominee of the her party. What it all boils down to is that Thompson and whatever percentage of party leaders and activists must work tirelessly to combat Bloomberg's onslaught of deceptive campaign material and other dubious activities so that New Yorkers clearly know what choices they have when election day comes upon us.

Maddow Highlights Roeder's Call For More Abortion Violence

In a carefully worded statement to the press, Scott Roeder claimed he had knowledge of future abortion clinic attacks but refuses to tell police about them. Whether he does know specifics or not, this is a call to other radical reactionaries such as himself to use more violence to um, advance the pro-life agenda.

Rachel Maddow has Frank Schaeffer (a former reactionary) join her to talk about the issue of abortion and the violence some on the right uses.

The Days Are Numbered For Espada And Monserrate

The large amount of pressing legislation for the Senate to consider this month had enough trouble to contend with at the beginning of the day yesterday. Once the day was out, most of those and bills, and the Democratic agenda was thrown out the window.

I was busy with getting ready for the petitioning process here in NYC during the mid-afternoon hours yesterday and intermittently checked the news. When I clicked the refresh button to read about the coup in the Senate, (or possibly the attempted coup) I felt as shocked and disgusted as I did when Spitzer's prostitution scandal went public, if not more so. What Hiram Monserrate and Pedro Espada concocted to stab our democratic institution in the back was far worse than what any hooker could ever do. Seeing those self-serving disgraces masquerading as public servants flipping to the Republican side was absolutely horrific.

I'm mad as hell, but now, as Roatti said, we'll get even with the two crooks and the Republican leadership for this ridiculous and unethical action. Espada can claim that he has a "coalition government," but anyone with with a few working synapses in their brains can tell what this is about. Monserrate and Espada, especially Espada wanted power in the worst way and they screwed over New Yorkers that voted for change in last year's election. All the reforms that could have been are over with for now. Instead, we who are interested in true change for Albany must work to rid ourselves of Espada and Monserrate. It is likely that all we'll need is to find a replacement for Monserrate, certainly if that videotape the police claim they have will convict him of beating his girlfriend.

So now the thief and the thug have their moment in the sun, but as most turncoats do not last long once they've flipped, those two will be gone before long.

Speaking of gone, and looking for a silver lining in all of this (trust me, it's hard) I can't help but think that Malcolm Smith will never get his Majority Leader spot once the Democrats take back control in 2010. If Smith had any principles, he would have held the high ground against the Gang of Four at the end of 2008 and made the "amigos" play their hand then. Espada, Monserrate, Kruger and Diaz were not to be trusted then, there was no reason to believe that they'd act like Democratic senators on a mere handshake.

Monday, June 08, 2009

Cry Me A Hipster New York Times

The New York Times went with an article today on the woes of the hipster class in these trying times. In what seems like is becoming a series of articles, the Times continues to highlight the rich who cry poor in this recession. Unlike the poor elites who have trouble getting by on less than half a million a year, today's article focuses on the privileged youth that live in gentrified Williamsburg.

From The NY Times:

Luis Illades, an owner of the Urban Rustic Market and Cafe on North 12th Street, said he had seen a steady number of applicants, in their late 20s, who had never held paid jobs: They were interns at a modeling agency, for example, or worked at a college radio station. In some cases, applicants have stormed out of the market after hearing the job requirements.

“They say, ‘You want me to work eight hours?’ ” Mr. Illades said. “There is a bubble bursting.”

Famed for its concentration of heavily subsidized 20-something residents — also nicknamed trust-funders or trustafarians — Williamsburg is showing signs of trouble. Parents whose money helped fuel one of the city’s most radical gentrifications in recent years have stopped buying their children new luxury condos, subsidizing rents and providing cash to spend at Bedford Avenue’s boutiques and coffee houses.
While the Village Voice feels bad for the way the Times rips these carefree 20-somethings, I would rather the Times use ink in more industrious ways.

The article includes an in-depth exposé on trustafarians and their parents. Summing it up, the balance scale has tipped, meaning less money from the parental units and more time in finding a job that pays for Williamsburg apartment life. Now, it isn't as if I don't sympathize a little, but really, the Times should be focusing more on the real pain the recession is causing, like the foreclosures in Southeast Queens and the rise in crime there that the Bloomberg Administration would love to keep under wraps. Now to be fair, the Times does have a "Living With Less" section online, but many of those stories do not get the prominence in the paper that they deserve.

Sen. Shelby Tries To Play Revisionist Historian, Fails

Senator Shelby went on Fox News to talk about bank bailouts yesterday, but he mysteriously forgets that last fall when the President approved of bank bailouts, it was Bush, not Obama who started doling out hundreds of billions to the banks.

Bloomberg's Unethical Union Deals

As the Mayor of New York, it is important to make sure that city employees are happy with their jobs and what they get paid for them. Yet it is also important for that same Mayor to be fiscally prudent with the city's finances, especially when we are in a devastating recession like the current one. Mayor Bloomberg justified extending term limits based on his financial expertise and strong, "independent" leadership, but the latest deal he made with the municipal unions is as the NY Daily News' Adam Lisberg describes, is "bizarre."

From The NY Daily News:

He cut a bizarre deal with municipal unions last week, one that postponed layoffs for 1,000 or so city workers for 90 more days of negotiations.[...]

But it also leaves plenty of time for the mayor and union bosses to scrounge for some extra millions, figure out a furlough package, or find some other way to save those jobs - then shake hands for the cameras.

And if Bloomberg ends up the savior of municipal workers, it will happen right around the time his political team is asking the workers' unions to endorse him.

Mitch McConnell Admits Public Option Is The Best Way To Go

Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell would never go for a public option in the health care debate our nation is having. Making things easier for those that need insurance is simply not McConnell's top concern. Helping his buddies within the insurance industry is, and he made his allegiance known on a recent Sunday talk show at his favorite network.

From DailyKos:

Because Democratic Leaders (such as they are) too often tend to be idiots when it comes to developing narratives and memes (we're talking "marketing" here), they too often overlook or don't understand GOP "gifts" when they're given. Case in point: on May 17 Mitch McConnell admitted to Chris Wallace on the May 17 FNSunday:

"The private insurance people would not be able to compete with a government option."

The video is provided in the link above. McConnell may not have meant to lead viewers to see that a public option is only a bad idea for the corporations that profit off our health (or lack there of) but it certainly came across. As the diarist above states, Democratic Leaders are much too hesitant in offending the health insurance industry. That is why it is up to the rest of us that care about real health care reform to push the issue that Americans deserve good, affordable health care just like almost every other advanced democracy out there.

More To Quinn Than Her Smile

This mini-documentary by Donny Moss (YouTube has a ten minute limit) comprehensively covers Speaker Christine Quinn in a way that few have done before. We all remember her tainted by the slush fund scandal, but nothing ever came of it. It wasn't too long ago that gay men were being falsely arrested by vice-cops and Quinn was nowhere to be seen. And don't get me started on term limits. There are many issues that Quinn will not bring up to support her candidacy for a third term, but Donny Moss does.

Update [6/9 12pm]: Unfortunately, it seems that Robert Pinter has something to say about his unwilling participation in the documentary. While it blows a hole in that part of the argument against Quinn, the rest of it still stands.

Addabbo's Constituents Want His Vote On Same-Sex Marriage Now

Out of 62 senators, there are still 14 that have not stated whether they will vote for or against the bill to give equal rights to same-sex couples wishing to get married. One of those senators is Joseph Addabbo. The eastern Queens Senator is apparently holding out to the very last minute or is not willing to say in case no vote comes to pass. Either way, NY1 tells us people in his district want to know how he feels.

From NY1:

Constituents wanted to hear what freshman State Senator Joseph Addabbo has to say about gay marriage.

"He needs to make a decision, quick," said one Queens resident. "A lot of people are interested in knowing."

But on Friday they did not know, as Addabbo would not respond to the question of how he would vote on legalizing same-sex marriage in the state.

"It's very important," said a constituent. "He needs to say if he is for or against it."

"I really think he should have a position on that; he definitely should have something to say because he's a senator," said another.

"I think he should have a response one way or the other," agreed a third.

NY1 did find a few that thought the opposite, but said they were few and far between. Now whether or not he follows those three voters' advice is another thing, but Addabbo will probably stay silent if he hasn't said anything already. Perhaps because he is a new Democrat in the district (Republican Serph Maltese represented the area for years and year), he's not up to angering a sizable portion of the community if he doesn't have to.

However, as MENY blogged last November, Joe has been a reliable vote for LGBT issues when he was a Councilmember (though he still hadn't taken a position on same-sex marriage) so perhaps when push comes to shove, he'll vote with the majority of the Democratic caucus and say yes to marriage equality.

Of course, it would be nice to add him to list of yes votes beforehand so residents should keep calling and pressuring him to take a stand regardless of where Addabbo is at now.