Saturday, May 23, 2009

I Still Hope He Succeeds.

The General in charge of Afghanistan was pulled, before his tour is over, and replaced with a General from Special Ops. Signaling a change in direction in that "arena" though the US drone bombings and civilian deaths in Afghanistan and Pakistan are more of the same. War as an answer (even part of the answer) is more of the same. Military commissions at Guantanamo Bay, even though they are not your failure's military commissions, sound a heckuva lot like more of the same, as well. The President's reticence in overturning "don't ask, don't tell" has been disheartening to say the least, though there is talk that a new "LGBT" policy is "imminent". I am still holding out hope on Obama's policies on torture. Stopping the practice, and disallowing testimony from torture in trial (or military commission) are both changes, but the hesitation in prosecuting? My hope is he's holding out for the big fish. The "following orders" defense the CIA got away with, unlike the abu ghraib soldiers, is offensive. Non-prosecution of lawyers who twisted Our Law to rationalize using methods we executed japanese soldiers for is unacceptable. Speaker of the House Pelosi recently stirred up a hornets nest saying Federal spies mislead Congress, something officials on both sides have said. What if her "cover her own aft" defense was really bait to get republicants to use the word "investigation". I am a hopeful man. On war, Obama has never been a pacifist. He was against the war in Iraq before it started, like the millions of us who marched against it. But he was "not anti-war, just anti dumb wars". To some of us, all war is dumb, but alas, Congressman Kucinich did not win.

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 President of the United States. 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 press conferences, 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 waterboarding) 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 Inauguration 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

Hoboken Mayoral Election 2009

My usual focus, as you all know, is National politics, but a number of people have asked me "Who should I vote for" in Hoboken's Mayoral Election on Tuesday. My first response is check out the candidates' forum, and what the candidates and campaigns have written about themselves. But after the recent rumor turned "news story" on Hoboken's most read gossip/business blog, along with negatives stories on that same blog referring to only two out of the three "major" candidates (another completely unbiased bastion of news), I felt the need to type. Negative campaigning, coming mostly from Beth Mason's campaign unfortunately, is usually more susceptible to lies and spin and is Far less constructive than positive/issue based campaigning. Not to say the candidates do not have negatives. They all do.

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