Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Alan Keyes Speaks Out Against His Party's Quest To Abolish 14th Amendment

Alan Keyes may be a Republican, but when the G.O.P. moves so far to the extreme right that they are thinking about tampering with the 14th Amendment, even he publicly objects. In case you need a refresher on 19th century American history, the 14th was the one that allowed the children of slaves to become citizens because they were born in the country. The fact that the same political party that helped write the Amendment nearly 150 years ago wants to curtail those rights is atrocious.

Four Months Later....Albany Finally Passes A Budget

The deadline for our state government to fulfill their obligation of passing a state budget came and went long before our sultry summer, and even our brief spring began. Now in the midst of 90 degree weather, legislators from around the state managed to pull it together and get something to stick. It wasn't easy (as Pedro Espada created a tremendous amount of trouble...and assault possibly) but the bill made it to the Governor's desk late last night.

From The Times-Union:

The final party-line vote -- 32 to 28 -- arrived after the sun had set on a dizzying day of last-minute negotiations, one-house bills that have almost no chance of passage in the Assembly, and frenzied efforts to round up two Democratic senators who spent much of the day missing in action.

In other words, it was a fairly typical day in the Senate, which all year has veered between chaos and inertia due to the Democrats' razor-thin 32-to-30-seat majority.

In order to pass the revenue plan that for more than a month has been the remaining piece of the budget puzzle, Democrats needed all 32 votes on deck. Senate Republicans have been rejecting almost all spending measures en masse this summer.

Republicans were set to let the bickering Democratic caucus cave in on itself, but in the end Sampson, Smith and others (despite their many, many flaws) managed to pass a multi-billion dollar budget without borrowing as L.G. Ravitch had proposed. Instead, they gave a victory to wealthy hedge fund managers by not making them pitch more in for the state where they make their personal billions. Who lost out? Well for those that rely on the sales tax exemption for clothing purchases under $110, they won't be saving those few dollars anymore. Large cuts to Medicaid will also be adding to the burden to the least amongst us. In all, a lot of money was lost from the coffer in the last couple of years and the reality was that cuts had to have been made. And to be fair, those in the highest brackets did have to relent on a couple of items.

And to give a bit of good news, the legislature approved a moratorium on hydrofracking the Marcellus Shale, at least until next July. And guess what? Republicans joined the majority and made it a bipartisan victory.

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Sen. Reid's Challenger Sharron Angle To Reporters: "Shhh!"

Politicians who do not like to be held accountable to the people they wish to represent would be well advised not to air their grievances in public. Unfortunately for the candidacy of Sharron Angle, a Republican from Nevada, she forgot (or perhaps never learned) how to use common sense. Instead of taking the questions of Nevadans, she proposed a different way of being held up to scrutiny in the Silver State.

From TPM:

"We needed to have the press be our friend," Angle said in an interview that aired on Fox over the weekend.

"Wait a minute. Hold on a second. To be your friend?" said a disbelieving Carl Cameron. Before Angle could fully answer, he added: "That sounds naive." Apparently this was too much for even him.

"Well, no," said Angle. "We wanted them to ask the questions we want to answer so that they report the news the way we want it to be reported."

Cameron's face may have shown disbelief, but only because Fox likes to keep these friendly relationships on the down least when it comes to admitting it. Fox has a long history of proving their allegiance to the Republican party.

As for Angle....well her actions are simply idiotic. Her numbers, once strong and promising for her quest to oust the Democratic Senate Majority Leader, have tanked quite precipitously. I presume comments like this will just keep moving her in the downward spiral she now inhabits.

Cantor Concedes Flawed Republican Tax Cut Policy

For decades now, the Republican party has adhered to the notion that tax cuts reduce the deficit. The thinking goes that if the government taxes the very rich less, they'll spend more and it'll "trickle down" to the rest of us. Once the money drips down, deficits are reduced because the spending habits of the wealthy boost the economy. However, as we have seen the national debt explode since Reagan enacted this insane ideology, Republicans have unsuccessfully made their case in the real world. Today, G.O.P. Minority Whip Eric Cantor admitted it on live television....even if it came out unwittingly.

Monday, August 02, 2010

Score A Victory For The Constitution Down By The WTC

Defenders of religious freedom and tolerance won a solid victory this week from the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The highly controversial debate over whether to allow a mosque to be built on Park Row (two blocks from the World Trade Center site) has been going on for weeks now, and the Commission decided to ignore the bigots who group the terrible attacks of September 11th with the entirety of Islam.

From The NY Daily News:

Board members at the Landmarks Preservation Commission intend to vote unanimously against granting protected status to the 152-year-old building that would be knocked down to make way for the project, the Daily News has learned.

The Italianate building on Park Place, two blocks north of Ground Zero, simply does not meet architectural criteria for protection from the city, sources with knowledge of the issue said.

"The building is not worthy," a source said. "It does not rise to the level of an individual landmark."

The more intolerant among us decided to latch on to the issue of landmarking an old Lower Manhattan building to stop the construction of a mosque....not actually caring for the architectural makeup of an old Park Row facade. People such as Sarah Palin and sadly, the Anti-Defamation League (not so anti and much more defamatory these days, at least in this instance) spoke out against religious tolerance, using ignorance and fear to try and blunt one of the core ideas that our Founding Father fought for.

Good on the Commission for letting this go forward, and voting to keep New York City as a beacon of freedom, not a bulwark against it.