Friday, June 11, 2010

Fundraiser For Steve Behar Tonight!

If you happen to be in New York, believe that we need more honest and progressive public servants in government and are looking for a place to kick back after work tonight, then come on over to my friend Steve Behar's fundraiser. Steve Behar is running in the 26th Assembly District out in Bayside, but the event is being held at the Turtle Bay Bar in Manhattan. Turtle Bay Bar is located at 987 2nd Avenue (at 52nd Street). The party begins at 6:00pm and lasts until 9:00pm.

In case you need to be convinced, Steve is a long-time member of the Howard Dean inspired Democracy for New York City and has hosted their Bayside linkup location. Steve also led a challenge last year to serve as City Council Member in the 19th District, with an agenda and biography that reads like a good pragmatic progressive's dream.

While the media has shown his race to be an uphill challenge, local races such as this are decided in small numbers. A dedicated cadre of supporters can overcome the worst aspects of old school politics and this is no exception. Come find out more tonight at the Turtle Bay Bar!

Sticking You With BP's Bill: Something The "Party Of No" Says Yes To

Republicans used to claim that they were the party of fiscal and personal responsibility. Of course, that only applies when they aren't the ones (and their oil industry friends) that are accountable for billions upon billions of dollars worth of damage to the Gulf of Mexico's ecosystem and economy.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Fed. Appeals Court Says "Screw You" To Civil Liberties And Your Freedom To Dissent

While the words "screw you" may not officially be in the decision rendered by the Second Circuit, their bad judgment reflects that attitude. The issue at hand is the NYPD's habit of infiltrating groups that protest our government (sanctioned by that thing called the First Amendment supposedly) and spying on those that speak up and hold their government accountable. Specfically the matter references the protests at the 2004 RNC and the policies of the Bush Administration.

The New York Civil Liberties Union went to court to ensure that the cops' records are made public...but no dice says the Court.

From RawStory:

On Wednesday, a panel from the US District Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit ruled (PDF) that the NYPD can keep the documents secret, because releasing them would jeopardize police investigations by releasing the identities of the NYPD's undercover officers.[...]

The appeals court's ruling overturns a federal judge's order last year that the city hand over the documents to the NYCLU. That judge had upheld an earlier ruling that the documents could be released with sensitive details "redacted" so as to hide the identities of undercover officers.

But the appeals court rejected that argument, saying that the lower court had made "errors" in its ruling. The plaintiffs, the appeals court ruled, hadn't proved a "compelling need" to have the documents released.

The court has “wisely recognized the fundamental importance to public safety of protecting undercover identities and maintaining the integrity of their methods,” NYPD Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly told the Times. "This was an important decision for New York and for the protection of society at large."

Since when is proving the innocence of the wrongly imprisoned and falsely accused not been a compelling need for information to be released from a police force that is meant to protect and serve? The Appeals Court rests their argument on a falsehood, because as the lower Court held, redacting sensitive information such as officers' names would have allowed both the accused and accusers essential protections and liberties. Commissioner Kelly compounds it with his empty rhetoric that we are all now somehow safer because cops can hide behind their badge while conducting mass arrests and spying on their fellow citizens.

Obama may be President for a while now, but because he has hardly put anyone into Federal bench judge positions our civil liberties continue to erode before our very eyes.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Newsflash! Chaos Continues In Albany!

I popped my head up from my plethora of work today to find that with more than two months after the deadline to pass a state budget had gone by, hardly anything has been done since. Unless of course you count backbiting, grandstanding and empty promises as tangible legislative goods. Instead of taking care of business, the legislature has passed budget extenders several times over, each with a way to cut spending and reduce the multi-billion dollar deficit. Today lame duck Governor Paterson went to a "leaders" meeting and again, nothing of much significance came of it.

From The Daily Politics:

Faced with a revolt from two “rogue” Democrats who say they will no longer vote for emergency spending bills that contain deep cuts, Paterson said it is up to the Senate Republicans to offer enough votes to keep government running.

The entire Republican conference has voted in recent weeks against the extenders, meaning the Democrats have had to muster all their members to supply the necessary 32 votes to pass them.

Paterson this morning dismissed the two renegade Democrats, Majority Leader Pedro Espada and Ruben Diaz, both of the Bronx, as “reckless and very sui generis.”

“I’m not going to respond to any threats, any thug activity,” Paterson said without mentioning Espada and Diaz by name. “I’m not going respond to any blackmail in that respect.

With such a slim majority of Democrats and a few within that are Democrats in name only, Paterson has frequently appealed to the Republican caucus to plea his cases. There's no doubt about it, Espada and Diaz have to go (their buddy Monserrate has already been taken care of!) and their day of reckoning is fast approaching.

Until then, the inept Governor will try in vain to get Skelos to make him look semi-competent, and Skelos will laugh in his face. Skelos' only concern is to win back the majority in November. He could care less about the fate of New York's fiscal situation and has repeatedly proven that, both as leader of his caucus and back when he was one of Joe Bruno's underlings.

For now, the hope of a passable budget looks bleak at best. As long as the cast of characters remain the same, doing the people's business takes a backseat to certain individuals' unethical whims.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

M.P. Gets It Exactly Right About B.P.

Mike Papantonio is a master at tapping into the people's discontent and rage about the companies and politicians that exert control over their lives. When it comes to British Petroleum, the subject of offshore drilling and the catastrophe that is still ongoing in the Gulf, Mike rips everyone and anyone responsible for this mess.

Monday, June 07, 2010

On Net Neutrality, Too Many Dems Look Like Republicans

When it comes to Net Neutrality, the battle for a freer internet has been a tough slog to say the least. For the most part, it had been endorsed on the left and right so that information was able to course through the vast networks that make up the internet. Ideas, despite the Republicans picking up the moniker of "the party of No," are not partisan. They may be downright kooky in the tea party crowd, but they are still free to express their views (although their racism is just downright disgusting). Anyways, in Congress, this has not been a partisan issue, it is more about who is in who's pocket.

From The Agonist:

74 Democrats signed a joint letter to the FCC supporting internet throttling by Verizon, ATT and Comcast. Throttling lets carriers slow or block internet traffic. This is a clear attack on net neutrality.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi just endorsed net neutrality. But The Money Party is busy buying votes. Here's a Top Ten list of the biggest rake-offs by the 74 Democrats. They had a total take of $2.8 million with an average of $37,000 a piece from industry sources and lobbyists. No telling how many jobs, trips, and other favors were provided. The Money Party is nothing, if not thorough.

Let your member of Congress know how you feel. Complaint letter to Congress

The business community has wished Net Neutrality dead for several years now, but it is still a pertinent issue. The telecoms have been busy fighting the public so that they can control the flow of information in order to increase their profits. They'll buy off Democrats and Republicans alike.

That is why we must follow in the footsteps of the Agonist and protest....and make ourselves heard, because when it comes to ideas and the future of our American democracy, the internet must be a wide open venue for all of us to communicate. Whether we talk to like-minded folk, organize around issues or just plain yell at each other in caps on the Huffington Post or the New York Post, making sure we can without restriction is nothing short of essential.