Here are a few lists of 2009 (in no particular order).
Ten biggest deaths in 2009
1. Senator Edward Kennedy
2. Michael Jackson
3. Walter Cronkite
4. Dom Deluise
5. John Hughes
6. Ricardo Monteban
7. Marilyn Chambers
8. Les Paul
9. Bea Arthur
10. Robert McNamara
Please don't be mad at me for not including Ed McMahon, Billy Mays, Patrick McGoohan, Farah Fawcett, Karl Malden, Koko Taylor, John Updike, Andrew Wyeth, Frank McCourt, Patrick Swayze, and everyone else We lost over the past year. My list is based on the effect their death (and life) had on me.
Top Ten News Stories of 2009 (For the US)
1. The Inauguration of President Barack Obama
2. The End of Failure 43's reign as president
3. The economy continues to slide (but possibly finds it's bottom)
4. Control of the Green Zone in Iraq is turned over to Iraqis.
5. Sonia Sotomayor is named Supreme Court Justice.
6. Kim Jong-il pardons two American journalists, who had been arrested and imprisoned for illegal entry, after former U.S. President Bill Clinton meets with Kim in North Korea.
7. Evidence found of water on the moon.
8. A plane lands on the Hudson River between Hoboken and Manhattan. (No one is hurt.)
9. President Barack Obama wins the Nobel Peace Prize.
10. The failed attempt at a bombing attack on a 300 passenger plane bound for Detroit on Christmas Day. (What happens next might be on next year's list.)
In international news...
1. Gaza War (Part ?)
2. North Korea tests missiles and a nuke.
3. Protests in Iran
4. The outbreak of the H1N1 influenza strain , commonly referred to as "swine flu" is deemed a global pandemic. The first condition since the Hong Kong flu of 1967-1968 to receive this designation.
5. Earthquakes!! A 6.3 magnitude earthquake strikes near L'Auila, Italy, killing nearly 300 and injuring more than 1,500. A 8.3 magnitude earthquake triggers a tsunami near the Samoan Islands. Many communities and harbors in Samoa and American Samoa are destroyed, and at least 189 are killed. A 7.6 magnitude earthquake strikes just off the coast of Sumatra , killing around 1,000 in Indonesia.
6. Dubai requests a debt deferment following its massive renovation and development projects. (the richest country in the world... broke?)
7. Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir arrested for war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. Al-Bashir is the first sitting head of state to be indicted by the ICC.
8. Bolivia becomes the first South American country to declare the right of indigenous people to govern themselves.
9. Sweden assumes the presidency of the European Union , with the Czech Republic as president of the Council of the European Union.
10. Albania and Croatia join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
Loves and losses in "the media"
1. A pet chimpanzee rips its owner's face off.
2. Jon Stewart crushes Jim Cramer
3. Ex-South Carolina Governor Sanford's appalachian hike/south american love affair
4. the Beer Summit
5. The coverage of Michael Jackson's death
6. "Balloon boy"
7. coverage legitimizing made up tea party attendance numbers, "birthers", bringing guns to the parking lots of presidential speeches, and death panels
The Policy of 2009 (Change?)
1. America Recovery and Reinvestment Act (tax cuts for everyone making under $250,000, investments in health care, alternate energy, infrastructure, education, etc.)
2. The House and the Senate pass Health Care Reform bills that pay for themselves (unlike the "bush tax cuts", the medicare prescription drug bill of 2003, or the Iraq war) reduce the deficit, and increase the number of insured Americans by 30,000,000, among other things.
3. Drawing down troops in Iraq and increasing troop numbers in Afghanistan
4. Beginning to close Guantanamo Bay and trying, at least some, "terrorists" in criminal courts where the crimes were committed.
5. Lilly Leadbetter Fair Pay Act
6. Children's Health Insurance Reauthorization Act (CHIP)
7. The Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act
8. Weapons Systems Acquisition Reform Act/Defense Appropriations Bill, cutting F-22 fighter jets ($2 billion saved) among other cost saving measures.
9. "Cash for Clunkers"
10. Covert, and not so covert, operations in Yemen
10 things that most annoyed me in 2009
1. a republicant congressman yells "you lie" at the President of the United States during a speech to a joint sessions of Congress
2. john and kate get divorced (who the hell are they anyway?)
3. michael phelps gets stoned
4. tiger woods gets laid
6. the "octomom"
7. miss california, perez hilton and "the abortion debate"
8. the phrase "in this economy"
9. the hand sanitizer boom
10. Letterman gets laid
Feel free to send me some of your lists.
Here's to hoping things somehow get better starting in 2010!
To Progress (one act at a time)
Hoboken, NJ 07030
Thursday, December 31, 2009
Thursday, December 24, 2009
There is good and bad that came from the sausage making process that is the reality of getting 60 Senators to agree on a bill. Here's a break down from DailyKos, who ended up against the bill mainly because of the omission of the "public option". The Progressive Left was not the only side with negative things to say about this bill. They joined the already vocal "tea partiers" (can you hear those who founded this Nation rolling?) and other republicants. One "party of no"er went as far as to ask Americans to pray that a democrat wouldn't be able to show up to vote. I can only hope the senator wasn't refeing to 92 year old Senator Robert Byrd. The party that once howled "unAmerican" and "unconscienable" at the mention of holding up of money for Our troops did just that to delay the Senate Health Care reform bill's passing. Delaying procedural tactics, coupled with the Democrats wanting a bill before the winter break and the end of the year, pushed votes to 1 AM. Tactics like having Senator Bernie Sanders' 700+ page amendment read allowed illustrated the delaying obstructionism taking place in on the Senate floor. Sanders withdrew his "single payer" ammendment without any actual debate after 3 hours of reading.
I'm not sure if the two "national private plans" overseen by the Office of Personnel Management (overseers of Federal Employees benefits) will keep insurance costs down as well as a "public option" would have in the Health Insurance marketplace this bill creates. One of the plans would be non-profit. Mandating that everyone have insurance is hard to swallow without the public option to keep costs down, but arguing that the tax breaks and rebates that help low and middle income Americans afford their mandated insurance as "big insurance subsidies" sounds a little hollow from some, especially those who were for no government intervention. If you want the private sector to run Our health care, Americans are going to need help paying them. It certainly should help lower tax payer funded emergency room visits. Unfortunately, taking the bottom line over health insurance companies completely out to be replaced by a universal health care system for every American would be much more costly and is absolutely a political unreality.
So yeah there are things I do not like and wish were different in the Senate's Bill. I like the House Bill much better (even with the Stupak travesty). But as Ezra Klein recently noted the final Senate Bill looks an awful lot like the Obama/Biden campaign plan (pdf) for Health Care Reform. Pre-existing conditions will be a thing of the past, as will dropping you for being sick. Premptive care will be a thing of the present. Billions more for Community Health Centers for people who can't find primary health providers. Like it or not, it will be the biggest and first real Health Care bill, since the establishment of Medicare, the tax payer cost of which this bill will actually reduce (along with the federal deficit by $132 by 2019) mainly through waste reduction measures. It is not law yet. The Senate and House now go "to committee" to iron out the differences between their two bills. With Congress's winter break, President Obama probably will not sign a Health Bare Reform Bill into law until February. Though it's certainly not everything I wanted, I'd like to thank the US Senate for their work and attention on America's expensive and broken Health Care system over the last 25 days, and the US House of Representatives before that. I know it's your job, but Thank you.
"Despite the bill's flaws, it does meet the test of real reform, and the cost of inaction was much too high." - Senator Russ Feingold
On to the Jobs Bill!
Merry Christmas! (If you're so inclined. If not, sorry about all the annoying music.)
Hoboken, NJ USA
Monday, November 30, 2009
Candidate bush's stance (circa 1999) against "nation building" was just about the only thing I ever agreed with him on. Of course, this "stance" turned out to be about as solid as "compassionate conservatism" was to anyone who disagreed with him, or more importantly, his party. Failure 43's "war president" focus left the unfinished, and internationally supported, war in Afghanistan to focus in on the invasion of Iraq. A war for regime change he, and his, were planning before they figured out the justifications and rationalizations for rushing us into it. Now after 8 years, elections fraught with fraud, and reports of corruption, the weak Afghan government established and secured by the US and others receives little, if any, faith or respect from the public who are starting to think back to the taliban days of, albeit Oppressive, security and stability. With no exports, but heroin. No jobs, but fighting. Afghanistan needs to be rebuilt, but can we stay and rebuild it? Should we stay and rebuild it?
The President's speech "on the Way Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan" was a straight forward, "somber" one. No anecdotes about soldiers he's met. No big applause lines. A history of what brought us there, and I'm sorry but "September 11th" did. It's al qaeda's headquarters, though some would say that has moved across the border to Pakistan, which the President mentioned several times. He also mentioned, to a lesser extent, Somalia and Yemen. He also admitted to the fraud and corruption in Afghan elections, and repeated the need to support the Afghan people in restoring their government and country. But while speaking to those who compare Afghanistan to Vietnam, the President showed, what I believe is his real rationale for staying and "escalating".
"And most importantly, unlike Vietnam, the American people were viciously attacked from Afghanistan, and remain a target for those same extremists who are plotting along its border. To abandon this area now -- and to rely only on efforts against al Qaeda from a distance -- would significantly hamper our ability to keep the pressure on al Qaeda, and create an unacceptable risk of additional attacks on our homeland and our allies."I know it is echoes of the last guy, and I don't know if we need 100,000 soldiers and 100,000 contractors to do it, but for some reason I have more faith in the current guy in the White House than the last. I hope I'm not just misOverestimating him. That is not to say I agree with escalating the war in Afghanistan. I Do Not. Al qaeda is not locked down to a country, so neither should our "war" on them be, and right now it's hard to think of building another country while Ours is in, though relatively speaking much less, dire straits. I also think that using the Afghanistan border as a doorway into Pakistan is a big part of this, and that scares me.
Wednesday, November 25, 2009
The attacks of September 11 were/are not considered a military strike. Members of al qaeda are not considered members of any military, so military tribunals are out, in my opinion.
The recent decisions coming from the Department of Justice do bother me. There will still be "enemy combatants" held, by the United States, indefinitely, because they are "a danger" to Us, and there is not a good enough case against them to "assure" conviction. Which is the case, I believe, with Khalid Sheik Mohammed. I agree with Attorney General Holder's decision to try him in the City where the crime was committed. I do Not however agree with his Joe Namath-style prediction of conviction and execution. No matter who the defendant, no matter the crime, they are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law in the United States, or at least they should be. That being said, the United States Justice Department, this one in particular, would not be bringing this to trial without an air tight case, even after all the waterboarded evidence is thrown out. Defense attorneys are now saying that the defendants will plead not guilty to air their grievances with American foreign policy. This may just be a ploy to rally those who are against abiding by US law and having a trial for these criminals, because they are too Afraid of what the defendants must say or "spew". Who cares what they say? What, can they see Russia from their cell, or something? If I were the judge presiding over this case, it would be closed to the press. Only bad pastel sketches would come out of the room, and maybe some conspiracy theories to make these extremists sound like lyndon larouchites. I'm sorry larouchites, I don't mean to equate you with September 11th attackers, but are We not strong enough to take a speech from a zealot that may have plotted to kill thousands of Us? Iraq was strong enough to try saddam, no?
I am thankful that Ours was created to be "A government of laws and not of men". That idea is one of the many that make the United States an amazing and inspiring nation.
Here's another one:
"In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence."
- Amendment VII to the United States Constitution - The Bill of Rights
Possible future topics:
1) Major Hasan and the ongoing investigation. Did al qaeda or a "similar" group plant him eight years ago in the army to be a never approved for combat duty major psychiatrist so he could shoot up the Soldier Readiness Center? Or did a desparate and deranged man completely lose it, possibly turn toward an extremism, and become a mass murderer in the Soldier Readiness Center?
2) Health Care, the public option, and debating to vote for debate, only to have to vote to vote. (Why does a democratic majority for health care for Americans have to be so much bigger than the republican majority was to kill foreigners?)
3) The quagmire left in Afghanistan. Is it worse than the quagmire left in Iraq? (How's the quagmire of an economy coming?)
4) An ex-governor of Alaska, an ex-Miss USA, an ex-talk show host, an ex-mayor, an ex convict, and a pretend plumber walk into a studio and at least one blogger doesn't give a shit.
Here's to Progress!
Hoboken, NJ 07030
Wednesday, November 04, 2009
How about that NY-23 Congressional race where the republican party's splitting in half gave the Democrats a win in a district, parts of which have voted republican since the 1800's? Now that's a trend I can get behind.
In other election news, sadly, gay marriage was not legalized in Maine, but an openly gay mayor was elected in Chapel Hill, NC and an anti-discrimination (against homosexuals) bill was passed in Kalamazoo, MI
"Don't believe the hype-it's a sequel"
Hoboken, NJ USA
"In New Jersey, the party in power in the White House hasn't won the Governor's office since 1985 and the party in power in the White House hasn't won the Governor's office in Virginia since 1977."
From dnc chair Tim Kaine's statement on last night's election
Tuesday, November 03, 2009
I don't pay much attention to State politics. (I know, I know act local..) Governor Corzine should have stayed Senator Corzine, and he heard from this IP address about that. He has been lack luster as Governor of New Jersey. Not too bad, not too good. Not that it's easy to take over a State when the Country's economy is tanking. Christie has rooted out corruption, on both sides of the aisle, but he's a man with a plan that no one has, or maybe can, see. The main factors for me are his "relationship" and enthusiastic support of bush jr , the fear that he would have New Jersey opt out of the public option on health care and/or turn away additional stimilus monies like other bush republican governors have said they would, only to take it and take credit for it. And Christie is a union buster. Now I know unions aren't what they used to be, but I believe that this country favors the management (upper especially) in so many ways that workers still need and deserve protection . All that being said, New Jersey goes back and forth from Democratic to republican every couple of elections. If Christie does pull this squeeker out, our property taxes will go down by Spring, right? Oh yeah there's a third party candidate, Chris Dagget, from the middle (expect to see more of them) who can't win, but might be a good protest vote, especially if your republican.
On a local level, Hoboken may finally have an official Mayor again, hopefully hanging on for a full term. Full disclosure, my position with the City of Hoboken has improved under Acting Mayor Dawn Zimmer (see the Greening of Hoboken), though I do fear for the positions of other City workers once she is made Mayor of Hoboken tomorrow (More of a prediction than an endorsement). Acting Mayor Zimmer has been met with a few reality checks since she has taken her chair in the Mayor's office (see balanced budget), but has not made any glaring errors. Her hiring practices have not been as outside the box (or loop) either, which doesn't really surprise me. Her top three opponents are vying for the same pile of peter "the indicted" cammarano votes. Councilwoman Mason may have a reformer or two, but Acting Mayor Zimmer will not shed any of the votes (almost exactly half the voting public) she received in the last Mayoral election. Councilwoman Mason's campaign has been brutally nasty. Former Judge Glatt is the candidate no one has heard of, unless you're part of the Hudson County Democratic machine. And Developer Frank "Pupie" Raia is a glimpse at old "Hey oh, How You Doing?" Hoboken, that would be a step backward. Truthfully though, looking at what Hoboken continues to turn into (men's spas, sushi, and national chains) backwards isn't such a bad way to look.
So that's what I got a squeeker in the Governor's race and Zimmer winning Mayor. What's important is that you vote and take part in Our Democracy. How else will you be justified in comp[laining about it?
Hoboken, NJ USA
Saturday, October 24, 2009
The President spoke to an Organizing for America fundraiser at the Hammerstein Ballroom in the on October 20th. My friend (whose donations got me in the joint) and I sat in the Upper Balcony watching, listening and recording (shhh.) as a relaxed President Obama delivered a speech that addressed where we've come from, what has been accomplished, and what we have ahead of Us after his first nine months in office. The speech, primarily addressing health "insurance" reform, addressed critics from the left. One anonymous audience member shouted "single payer" , to which the President delivered a retort with the refrain "the bill you least like" that started with "the one you least like of the five that are out there would provide 29 million Americans health care — 29 million Americans who don’t have it right now would get it" followed by the much quoted since (in blogland, at least), "You know, sometimes Democrats can be their own worst enemies. Democrats are an opinionated bunch. You know, the other side, they just kind of — sometimes — do what they’re told. Democrats, you all are thinking for yourselves. I like that in you. But it’s time for us to make sure that we finish the job here. We are this close. And we’ve got to be unified." And to the critics on the right Obama hit with a "what I reject is when some folks decide to sit on the sidelines and root for failure on health care" and his newly crafted "Grab a Mop!" (and "Help us clean up this mess") bit. (A slogan that my mom thinks should be used by Active Democrats, the way "tea bag" was used by the minority of the minority party)
A year or few ago, stopping and arresting "terrorist plotters" (in NYC and Boston) would have been met with fanfare and a general lauding of the President for "keeping us safe" (with faux news taking the lead). A year or few ago, Alaskan wilderness was in greater danger of being drilled for oil than of being preserved for polar bear habitats. A year or few ago, opposing minority members were not yelling at the during one of his Few addresses to Congress and gunmen were not tolerated at Protests (wooden dowels to hold up signs weren't). A year or few ago, there was still a discussion on water boarding, stem cells, the need for guantanamo bay, not to mention, getting out of the war of choice in Iraq. I realize that the list of everything the progressive left (me included) wants has yet to be addressed. All the promises that Candidate Obama made have yet to be completed. But a year or few ago would an extension of hate crimes to include sexual orientation ever get through Congress or be signed by the President (failure 43 threatened to rewrite the Constitution to discriminate against homosexuals)? Would the government be planning to cut upper corporate management's pay? Would criticism of the President be seen as un-American or dissent and debate (no matter how ludicrous the claims, unfortunately )? Would Congress be doing their job discussing and formulating legislation or would they just be doing their party's president's bidding?
So yeah, has saved the world? No, but the world does have a much more favorable opinion of us. Has he saved the United States? No, though you don't hear the Great Depression talk very much anymore, even house sales are starting to trend in the right direction. Has he saved the Earth? No, but Major strides have been made in mileage and emission standards already. And he's "just getting started!"
More on President 44's first year and how it compares to other presidents when it's closer to over. Until then, call Congress, call the White House, and call the Media. Let your voice be heard. It is, after all, as much your country as it is any other American citizen's.
"This is such a rare moment in our history. Now is not the time to start getting disillusioned, or now is not the time to start thinking, oh, this is too hard. We’ve got this opportunity to change our world for the better. But the change — we said this in the campaign, it is true now — it never starts in . It always starts with you. It starts with ordinary people — — men and women who love their country, who are standing together and fighting for its future.... So I just want everybody here to understand, we are in this for the long haul. Some of these changes may not happen in 18 months, or 36 months, or 72 months. It’s going to take time. But I don’t know about you, I just want to let you know — I'm just getting started. I’m not tired. I don’t know about you, but I’m not tired. All these folks who are throwing stuff at us and getting all crazy and — you know, I’m just getting started. I feel refreshed. I feel energized. And it’s because of you. " President Barack Obama October 20, 2009 New York City
To Progress (one step in the right direction at a time)
Hoboken, NJ USA
Wednesday, October 07, 2009
With the exception of security, which is meant to protect the first (while, at times, negating the second), Our society is focused on the third, and regardless of the cliche "Money can't buy Happiness", it is money that so many are in pursuit of in its name.
An underlying, guiding, principle serves as a foundation or constant to political argument. The lack of one gives the appearance of, or in fact is, hypocrisy. How can one argue that banks (which made millions and sent the economy tanking through deregulation) were not too big to fail, turn around and say that health insurance companies (the 10 largest of which saw their profits go up 428% between 2000 and 2007 (page 7) while costing American People their homes and worse through deregulation) are too big to fail, or even compete? Or if the man, who is quoted as saying “Blessed are the meek”, is your own personal savior, why would you not do all you can to help them? Where is the guiding principle?
The Health Care Reform “debate” has been, more than anything else, about dollars and cents (with a little nonsense throw in by the power$ that be). “Your taxes will go up”, but your premiums will go down. “How can you justify spending billions in this recession?”, but we’re spending that on war. Well it turns out the Baucus bill, which I am not thrilled with, will Reduce the deficit over the ten years. How do you like that? Health Care Reform will provide for some, unfortunately not all, of the uninsured, save the insured money, And save the Country money. But again, money shouldn’t be the driving issue of this debate on Our Nation’s Health Care, currently ranked 37th in the world and costing Americans more than most other populations. No, the issue should be what is best for the Health of
The "inalienable rights" in the Declaration of Independence were and are meant for all Americans, those who agree and those who disagree, those who "deserve it" and those who "don't". It is the government's job to afford All Americans security in attaining and maintaining these rights. As the homeless American goes, so does the CEO. Trouble is we are all so focused on that Pursuit of Happiness, currently defined by money and convenience, we're too blind to see it. 45,000 people die a year because they don't have health insurance. There are American people that need help maintaining "Life" and the US Government needs to help them. Period.
Next week's topic: What a difference a few years make: How I'm pissed at the Democratic Congress because they're not rubber stamping slaves to the President like the Republicans were, also Presidential First Years: A Greatest Hits.
"“I am convinced that in order to move forward, we must say openly the things we hold in our hearts, and that too often are said only behind closed doors,” “There must be a sustained effort to listen to each other, to learn from each other, to respect one another, to seek common ground.” -President Barack Obama - Winner of the Nobel Prize for his Diplomacy in 2009.
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
Now that all of that is out of the way, it's on to the health care reform "debate" that has Stephen Hawking and republicans (along with the Democrats who aren't afraid to speak) calling "bullshit" on protesters' ridiculous claims and lies. And by protesters I mean concerned citizens asking pertinent questions at "town hall" meetings on health care reform.
Here are some Fun Facts regarding the current Health sCare Reform "debate":
There are no "death panels" in the House Health Care Reform Bill, despite what republicant sentors, ex-governors , and faux journalists have to say. The "end-of-life" services in the legislation do not refer to euthanasia. They refer to hospice and assistance to the family in the last days of a loved one's life. To quote one republican, on the House committee through which the bill passed, referring to these services as "death panels" is "nuts". Though there is something that could be construed as similar currently at private insurance companies. There are no provisions in the House health care bill for "rationing" "abortions paid for by tax dollars" or "health care for illegal immigrants". You, or if your employer provides it your employer, can choose to keep your current insurance under the House health care bill. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi did not call protesters "un-american". She said "[d]rowning out opposing views is simply un-American." She didn't call them "nazis" either. She said they were carrying swastikas, which they were. A swastika was recently painted on a Congressman, who happens to be black,'s house after his town hall " discussion". On a more positive note, the American Medical Association, the Federation of American Hospitals, PhRMA (the trade group of the pharmaceutical industry) SEIU (the service employees union) and the AARP all support and are pledging millions in support of the health care plan. No need to remind me that there were deals made for some of this support, but I'm not afraid of a good compromise if it extends health benefits to 40 million Americans who are currently uninsured.
Violence and wild eyed hate is not the usual debate for a 1000+ page of legislation. A lot of the vocal protests seem to have little to do with the proposed bill itself. The more I hear the concerned citizens entering the free speech town hall debate on health with nothing to say but "I am afraid of Obama", the more I am afraid for him and for America. Bringing a loaded hand gun to the President's town hall in NH? They took my key chain when I saw Candidate Barack Obama speak in New York. Armed militias are on the rise. More guns and knives are showing up at town hall "discussions" on health care. Why? Who's responsible for distributing and pushing all the disinformation and slanderous comparisons? Look no further than lou "you gotta put a stake through his [Howard Dean's] heart to stop him" dobbs, rush "adolph hitler, like Obama" limbaugh, glenn "obama is a racist" beck, and sarah "death panel" palin, to name a few. They are calling fire in a theater, and throwing gasoline on the flames they create, along with the teabag/birther organizers who want No Reform at all. They, and handful of old politcos like dick "no nickname needed" armey, are responsible for being so irresponsible. Remember when the guy got tasered after refusing to leave the lectern for asking a volatile question? Remember the anti-Iraq war protesters being rounded up in NYC and held in a warehouse? Remember when the right wingnuts were referring to those of us protesting an unnecessary, illegal, pre-emptive war of choice as "zealots" and "nazis". I guess hanging US congressmen in effigy, threatening their lives, shutting down public meetings and shouting down elected officials so they can not speak isn't that bad to them. Billions for killing? Good. Billions for health? Unacceptable. I wonder how many of the protesters use the VA, are on medicare, or would be helped by the legislation they are being used to oppose. I wonder if the republicants that oppose "government run health care" will shed their tax payer funded federal employee health care plan to buy private insurance of their own. I say no government run health care for Congressmen and women who say they oppose it, and that includes the VA, Medicare, and TriCare.
Americans are dying and/or going bankrupt because they can not afford health care or their insurance provider has denied them treatments. The thought of this issue as the politics of a "win" or "loss" for the President or a political party is disgusting. Defending Health Insurance companies, who made a 428% from 2000-2007 while dropping one to two million people per yer from their roles isn't much better. The House bill is an attempt at extending health benefits to 40 million Americans who are currently uninsured. This debate should be about finding a way to provide health care to average and low income Americans versus the current corporate model, which puts the bottom line ahead of the health of Our country's citizenry. About whether or not we should treat the issue the same way we do police protection or national security or car insurance for that matter. Instead, it's a "debate" about whether a government providing for its citizenry is socialist.
Enough about the faux debate. I'm going to go read the 1018 page H.R.3200 - America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 (full text, summary).
To your health!
Hoboken, NJ USA
P.S. This same crap's going to happen during the Climate Change Bill debates.
Tuesday, July 07, 2009
Some real important news stories have been hidden recently by failed republican governors and the death of, arguably, the biggest pop star, greatest entertainer, and most enigmatic celebrity of all time (RIP Michael Jackson). American troops pulled out of Iraq's cities on Iraqi National Sovereignty Day. 5,014 American soldiers dead, 100,000's wounded and they had fire works to celebrate the Us withdrawal. That worked out great. We may not even get at their oil. Well, at least we still have Afghanistan, right? Iranian clerics made a bold move and "defied" the Ayatollah. Maybe there is some power to the people, not to mention the seeds of change in Iran. Good thing we didn't openly meddle or take sides. If we had, Iran's hard-liner claim that "the opposition leader is a US agent" might hold more weight. Honduras is on fire. A coup has taken place there, but don't worry they don't have any oil, or plans for nuclear power. The Uighur uprising in China, that has claimed 156 lives, has China's president, Hu Jintao, threatening the death penalty for rioters, who are keeping him from his Italian Summit with President Obama and the G8. In bad domestic news, unemployment rose to 9.5%. President Obama has said it would hit 10%, and more recently Vice President Biden left his disclosed bunker to say "we and everyone else misread the economy" possibly leading up to the next stimulus package. They said the stimulus package was to be implemented over 18 months (we're about 4 months in), but this is starting to hurt really badly. Just look at States like California and Michigan.
So yeah one republican governor used state funds to see his goumade (mistress) in Argentina, and another republican state chief executive quit before her first term in office was over, but it's a big world out there, and we have plenty of big problems here at home. At least there's a comedy writer/Mic Jagger impersonator in the Capitol Building. Senator Al Franken is "ready to work". But before you get too giddy, that magic Senatorial number 60 everyone keeps talking about only matters if the Democrats walk lock step toward things like Health Care for all and clean, renewable, sustainable energy. Something they have yet to do. We need to push them. It's going to take more than voting to change this country.
I'll leave you with this from Henry Kissinger on Obama's "speech to the Islamic world:
"Obama is like a chess player who is playing simultaneous chess and has opened his game with an unusual opening. Now he's got to play his hand as he plays his various counterparts. We haven't gotten beyond the opening game move yet. I have no quarrel with the opening move."
I just couldn't resist.
To Progress (the "We're going to have to do Our part" kind).
Hoboken, NJ USA
Friday, June 12, 2009
Another jaw dropping change in was the President's and the Secretary of State's strong stance opposing Israel's expanding its territory through settlements. Wow! Elected officials who are not of the "Israel can do no wrong" ilk are usually way below any position of policy making power. More on Prime Minister Netanyahu's response after his upcoming speech on "security".
But these were not the only historic and possibly transformational moments recently. In what may become President Obama's Reagan moment (not for the reasons you may think) he has nominated Justice Sonia Sotomayor to the . I type "Reagan moment", not because he nominated a woman, but because the nominee may turn into more of a right center leaner than a left, which would be reminiscent of Reagan's appointment, Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra O'Connor, turning out to lean left center. Justice Sotomayor came from the projects in the Bronx, went on to graduate from Princeton University and Yale Law School. She has more judicial experience than anyone on the Supreme Court had when they were nominated. She was first nominated to the Federal bench by President George H. W. Bush and then was promoted by . So far the republicants have had a problem with the way she pronounces her name, the kind of food she eats, the fact that she once said her experience as a "Latin woman" would give her an insight that an old white man or woman might not have (i'm paraphrasing) and of course she said that "the court of appeals is where policy is made". Supreme Court Justice antonin scalia was a bit more blunt when he said "courts often 'make law,' since the precedent of the highest court does not cover every situation, and not every case is reviewed. " Justice Sotomayor has ruled in favor of pro-lifers and pro-choicers. She has been on both sides of discrimination cases during her tenure. She has been a part of thousands of decisions, authored 380+ published opinions, ruled in favor of the Wall Street Journal over the Clinton Justice Department, and ended the baseball strike. But alas, she is a "hispanic" woman, and that has some old white men in a panic.
Speaking of panicking old white men, the republicant party has turned from defeated and disorganized to Down Right dangerous and the Department of Homeland Security's report last month warned us of it. The pro-lifer that murdered a doctor while he was ushering at his church and the white supremist anti-semite opening fire, killing a guard, at the Holocaust Memorial in DC will hopefully be the peak of the violence perpetrated by these domestic terrorists. When the pro-life murderer warned of "more violence to come" where was the outcry from the pro-torture crowd to waterboard him to find out more.
Well, next up health care reform. Why doctors at the AMA may not like it. Why you don't have a choice of whatever doctor and/or procedure you want or need Now. Why a tax increase that is lower than the health care cost it does away with is a good deal. Why America is one of, if not thee, last industrialized, "civilized" nation in the world not to have public health care to go with Our public education and public safety (police & fire).
Hoboken, NJ USA
Saturday, May 23, 2009
On most other policy fronts foreign and domestic, President Obama has changed the direction of the past 8+ years. His recently announced program for increased gas mileage (CAFE standards) and reduced emissions from US autos is a long awaited revelation. Some argue that the Obama administration is still for big business, because they're trying to save the banking industry by flooding it with Our capital, but his budget definitely tips Our coffers away from the top 1% to the majority of the remaining 99%. Banks are pretty integral to Our economy too, as is the auto industry. The regulation rhetoric is certainly a welcome change from the "ownership society". A "Guantanamo Bay Detainee", charged with the '98 embessey bombings, is actually facing trial in an American Court. Could this be a return to the rule of law in America? Congress's not funding the closing of the detention center, one can only hope, is to stall so the President and the Justice Department can continue to figure out what to do with the detainees. Mr. President, Our "super max" maximum security prisons (and I'm not proud of this) can hold anyone and anything. They are a lot stronger and more secure than the chain link fence that's holding Our suspects in Castro's Cuba.
So, yeah President Obama is doing things I don't agree with. He hasn't changed everything. The flag still has the same unlucky number of stripes. The White House is still painted white. It doesn't help that the majority of the current toothless (another word comes to mind) Congress is still bought and paid for by coal, pharmaceutical, insurance, and "energy" companies, to name a few. It's hard to say and to hear, with unemployment still increasing (albeit at a slower rate), but I do believe We are proceeding in a better direction than We have been in recent times, at least as it pertains to the . Did you see him at Notre Dame? Or speaking about National Security and Guantanamo?
The administration's drug czar talking about doing away with "the War on Drugs", the unprecedented amount of , the new and improved foreign diplomacy (Now with Respect!), the de"sloganizing" of politics, the organic garden in the back yard, getting Us out of dick, bush and rummy's religious war in Iraq. These are changes in direction. The Obama administration has done a lot in their first four months. Not to keep comparing them, but it wasn't until after the tragedy that took place eight months into their watch that failure 43 and boss dick really got anything done. The issues and policies where the President and I differ are by no means insignificant, but in the "big picture"? Barack Obama continues to have my support. I still Hope He Succeeds.
I think one of the biggest mistakes that is made in Washington is this notion you have to dumb things down for the public.
-President Barack Obama
More on the man who lied, and continues to lie and use fear to convince the world he cares. The man who pushed (through ) for an al qaeda-iraq link, who "simply stated" there was "NO DOUBT" about Iraq's WMDs, who said years ago that Iraqi insurgents were "in their last throes", who gave a company, that was still paying his severance, plenty of no bid contracts. The only former executive brancher, I can remember, to come out full blast against a new executive mere months after being wheeled out of the versus The President of the United States on National Security, torture, and how the United States should treat its prisoners of war later.
Is dick speaking out to pre-emptively mount his defense?
P.S. Good Police work FBI on the Bronx synagogue bombing plot. No torture necessary.
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Up until this campaign, Councilwoman Beth Mason (Her Website) had my pretty vocal support for Mayor, but the "mccain-esque" "win at any cost" campaign she is running and the bed-fellows she has made worry and disappoint me deeply. While on the City Council, Councilwoman Mason went line by line through appropriations. Every other councilperson simply would give a blanket yes or no. She was independent of the mayor's contingent, the previous mayor's contingent, and the "reform" contingent. Her calculated, thoughtful management style, could seem cold at times, but struck me as exactly what this town needs, at least budgetarily. Fighting for information the City was trying to hide from the public. And then one day the old "russo civic association" was covered in Beth Mason signs. The former mayor's club sign taken down, broken on the sidewalk. In case you don't remember anthony russo, he was mayor of hoboken before he was convicted on Federal corruption charges. He was sitting in a City Council seat right before he was sent to jail for 30 months and assessed a $300,000 fine. His replacement (an appointment by current Mayor Roberts) on the City Council is one of Candidate Mason's current Council Candidates, Vincent Addeo. Mr. Russo, his family, and his minions have all been campaigning "old hoboken" for Candidate Mason, sometimes in that "old hoboken" style that made them famous. Giving up her "independence" from corrupt politicians by aligning herself with old ones is a major blow to Councilwoman Mason's integrity and to the idea of her independent leadership. That coupled with this latest smear campaign (whether it's them or their supporters) has been enough to put me from firmly on the fence to really leaning towards Councilman Cammarano.
Candidate Peter Cammarano (His Website and Platform) is intelligent, well schooled in governmental law, and a somewhat fresh face to Hoboken politics. He is a political animal and came into town as part of the Hudson County Democratic Organization machine that now backs Candidate Zimmer. His voting (with the current "politically radioactive" mayor) record certainly does not serve him well, but in the last year or so it has not been as one sided as some make it out to be. His argument that the Council should have passed the current mayor's more than flawed budget, so the State wouldn't have to come in and fix things (eventually I guess) seems a bit ludicrous. The Council has been saying we'll fix this next year for as long as I lived here. I also don't like the fact that he moved here, after running Kerry's underwhelming Hudson County campaign, almost exactly the minimum time you need to be a resident before being elected Councilman. Not that Candidate Mason's candidate Raul Morales III has voted in very many elections before presumably voting for himself on Tuesday. Stealing Candidate Obama's logo doesn't help him with me very much either. All that being said Candidate Cammarano has sent out has many positive issue based emails as the Mason camp has mailed me negative 8.5x11 coated card stock ads. He has addressed environmental issues and has an environmental engineer on his Council slate.
Councilwoman Dawn Zimmer (her Website) is probably the most concerned about the environment of all the candidates, becoming Councilwoman with flooding as her #1 issue. But Candidate Zimmer has only been involved in politics/government for two years and already wants to be Mayor. She is intelligent and driven and would be a dramatic "change" even though some within her campaign came in with the current mayor's campaign for a real change. She seems to be more idealistic than practical. Big ideas are great, but right now Hoboken needs a level headed pragmatist to deal with the realities of Our city more than someone who wants to rapidly change it into something it's not. And Councilwoman Zimmer's recent "abstaining" from the current budget was troubling to say the least. Councilman Cammarano voted yes. Councilwoman Mason voted no.
There are three independent candidates as well. Their chances for victory are Much slimmer. But as a former Naderite ('96, '00) that's no excuse. So here are a couple of quick ones. Tom Vincent, though a great MC of many City run events, has absolutely no experience in government. His "platforms" sound great, but are vague at best. I'm not completely familiar with Ryn Melberg but nothing she is saying or doing inspires me to go out on a limb to vote for her. Frank Orsini is the most established of the independent candidates. His old school signs can be seen around town and his tag lines of "they have falied" (referring to the top three candidates who have been Councilpeople during this whole mess) can be heard from speakers attached to the roof of a minivan. If I had to pick from the Indepents, I would pick him.
But I think my vote is going to Councilman Cammarano for the reasons above. He'll certainly do a better job than has been done over the past eight years. There is secondary reason as well. To push for a run-off between Councilwoman Mason and Councilman Cammarano. Maybe an extra month will help Mason see the err of her ways. And that she could win on her own merit, with her own ideas... on the issues. I know it's probably too late for that.
P.S. For City Council, (Video of their Forum) I'm picking one from each Camp. Carol Marsh made an excellent Councilwoman and belongs back in that seat. Mike Novak is an environmental engineer and has served on the zoning board. His experience will help us Green Hoboken. And Anthony Pasquale, who is an accountant and has dealt with huge budgets and we sure need as much help with Ours as possible.
Full disclosure: I was hired by the Russo Administration. I've worked for the City of Hoboken for ten years (6 inside City Hall). My decisions are not based on who is for layoffs and furloughs and who is for no layoff and furloughs.
Heaven, Hell, or Hoboken!
Davey the Squid
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Fact is the techniques used by the bush era inTERRORgators are and have been a CRIME.
"No physical or mental torture, nor any other form of coercion, may be inflicted on prisoners of war to secure from them information of any kind whatsoever. Prisoners of war who refuse to answer may not be threatened, insulted, or exposed to any unpleasant or disadvantageous treatment of any kind."
The federal statute, which implements the 1984 Convention Against Torture, reads
"(A) the intentional infliction or threatened infliction of severe physical pain or suffering;
(B) the administration or application, or threatened administration or application, of mind altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or the personality;
(C) the threat of imminent death; or
(D) the threat that another individual will imminently be subjected to death, severe physical pain or suffering, or the administration or application of mind altering substances or other procedures calculated to disrupt profoundly the senses or personality.
There' a rationale being used by people, like dick's daughter liz (I'm not kidding), that US soldiers have to endure these techniques, not at the same intensity of curse, as part of their training, so it can't be torture. This is pretty ridiculous since the SERE training referred to is meant to ready soldiers for possible tortures by the enemy. Torture defender peggy noonan thinks we should "keep walking and not look back". Drug addled limbag thinks mccain's signing of a statement he did NOT mean because of torture is proof that "it works".
Granted face slapping, water boarding, extreme stress positions and sleep deprivation (as much as 11 days straight) aren't as disgustingly vile as the fatal anal gluing and diarrhea inducing of homosexuals that's going on right now in the nation that we "brought freedom to" by Iraqi militias. The fact remains that it is and was illegal. Ex vice dick says release all the torture advocating memos, perhaps because he shredded any dissent along with evidence of anyone he met with as the vice president of the United States. Looks like the shredders may have missed the "anything for a link between iraq and al qaeda" torture is pushed. I'm gonna have to side with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when she said "It won’t surprise you that I don’t consider him [dick] a particularly reliable source." Maybe we should waterboard him, have dogs snap inches from his "manhood", throw him against the wall 20-30 times, chain him up naked, cover him in excrement, in a stress position and keep him awake for 2 weeks by slapping him, while blasting hannah montana into his hood to find out what really happened. Our Country's moral "compass" and standing depends on it, which, of course, directly relates to Our . Did I leave out putting him into a small coffin-like box and dropping insects in, telling him they are poisonous. But why stop at dick, repeat for tenet, rice, ashcroft, yoo, rummy, gonzales, powell (yeah I said it), their deputies and let's not forget "the decider" at whom the buck stops. Or at least it did when Presidents of the United States took responsibility for their actions.
It is the Department of Justice's job, not the White House's, to find out if a crime was committed and who committed it. It is Not the Justice Department's job to be used as the president and his party's legal rationale lap dog, like we saw it reduced to for the eight years prior to the Inauguration of President Barack Obama.
A couple of other opinions:
Krugman is on it!: "America is more than a collection of policies. We are, or at least we used to be, a nation of moral ideals. In the past, our government has sometimes done an imperfect job of upholding those ideals. But never before have our leaders so utterly betrayed everything our nation stands for. “This government does not torture people,” declared former President Bush, but it did, and all the world knows it."
Vanity Fair: Have any attacks on America been disrupted thanks to intelligence obtained through what the administration still calls “enhanced techniques”?
“I’m really reluctant to answer that,” Mueller says. He pauses, looks at an aide, and then says quietly, declining to elaborate: “I don’t believe that has been the case.”
“Jim [Psychiatrist and "harsh tactic advocate mitchell] believed that people of this ilk would confess for only one reason: sheer TERROR,” said one C.I.A. official
- From a great piece at the New York Times (I thought it was the enemy that used "terror")
"They were well aware, these people, Rumsfeld, Sanchez, all of them and were well aware of these policies and these memorandums while these soldiers were being accused....five years ago. And if it was okay Mr. Former Vice President, if you're saying that this was necessary today and that it produced good intelligence..where were you five years ago stepping up to the plate and saying hold on, we can't discuss this because this is classified information, but these soldiers did not design these techniques? Where were all of those heros then to step up to the plate and defend these soldiers and to defend me?"
-former Brig. Gen. Janis Karpinski about how the torture at Abu Ghraib was a direct result of policies which were crafted by the higher ups in the Bush administration
"We are America! I don't give a rat's ass if it helps," Smith declared. "We are America! We do not fucking torture!" Shepard Smith of faux "news"
Frank Zappa: ... then it goes into a song called "The Torture Never Stops".
Which is about what?
Frank Zappa: Er, it's about torture not stopping.
- Zappa On Air, Nuggets, No. 7, April 1977(I guess I owe gail money for that quote not to mention the title)
Hoboken, NJ USA