I am deeply troubled by the blatant hypocrisy of the Republican Party. Shortly after Sarah Palin was selected as the Republican Party’s vice presidential candidate, it turns out that her 17-year old daughter is pregnant out of wedlock. As soon as Palin announces that her daughter will be keeping the child and marrying the father (clearly a shot-gun wedding), Palin is held up as a prime example of “family values” in action.
Ironically, none of the Republicans appear to notice that Palin’s staunch stance against sex education doesn’t appear to have kept her own daughter from engaging in premarital sex.
I am sure that the same glowing accolades would not be accorded the Obama family if they had a teenage daughter who became pregnant out of wedlock. The Republicans would denounce the family, accusing them of loose morals and bad parenting. And, they would probably attribute the girl’s premarital sexual activity to exposure to sex education in school. No doubt there would also be rumblings about how promiscuous African American teenagers are. read more »
Here. Shed a tear for the Yankees before I start ranting about them.
This from Newsday, Balking at stadium deal:
The New York City Industrial Development Agency and state Assemb. Richard Brodsky agree on little when it comes to the new Yankee Stadium deal. Here's where they differ:
Luxury suite: City officials say the luxury suite at the new stadium has been cited in public records since 2006, specifically the lease agreement between the Yankees and the development authority. Brodsky claims it was "secretly acquired" and he only discovered it this summer after a public hearing. The box seats about 12 people and was envisioned for the use of the mayor to entertain dignitaries and reward city employees for exemplary service. City officials also have the right to purchase 180 seats at face value before they go on sale.
Jobs: NYCIDA has stated that more than 900 part-time workers will be the equivalent of an additional 550 to 770 full-time workers at the stadium. Brodsky has said the NYCIDA's records show an additional 15 full-time workers.
Threat to leave: When citing its reasons for allowing public-backed financing of the stadium, the NYCIDA cited the likelihood the Yankees would "relocate outside the city" if a new stadium deal wasn't struck. Brodsky said an investigation by his oversight committee found no evidence of a Yankee threat to leave. The closest thing to a fresh threat to leave were 1993 news clippings supplied by the NYCIDA in which such threats were discussed, Brodsky said.
NYC is going to get rimmed by this Wall Street bailout. There's no other way to describe this. We not only lost something in the order of 30 to 40 billion dollars in bonuses ALONE, we've lost over 11,000 jobs since the Lehman meltdown. read more »
Just to take a stab in the dark here: did David Paterson's people do a poll recently showing that people like the governor, but lack clarity on what he's doing? It might be interesting to know the answer - and I certainly do not - because it's striking how out-front the governor has been recently.
On September 8th, Paterson mocked Albany legislators as bloodsuckers, leading to much howling and rumored garlic and crucifix shortages caused by enthusiastic citizen buying.
On Tuesday, September 16th, Paterson gave authority to AIG to move $20 billion in assets from subsidiaries to its central holding, long before any Federal action was taken.
On September 19th, the governor requested that Treasury headquarter its relief efforts for Wall Street in New York City itself.
Today, the governor refused to rule out tax increases to get the state through the Wall Street crisis, authorized the attorney general to investigate the LIRR pension/disability scandal, hinted at a special session of the legislature, called rebuilding at Ground Zero "a mess", announced that the state will begin regulating some of the bizarre credit derivatives, slapped down John McCain, and for good measure, yesterday let everyone know that he won't be endorsing in the 2009 mayoral race.
Whatever the root cause of this pleasing activity is, more, please.
Okay, here we go: the let's-extend-term-limits-all-hail-Mike-Bloomberg train has left the station. The New York Daily News has always supported term limits; today, the paper reversed course.
New Yorkers deserve to select the person they feel is best qualified to pull the city through the crisis from among a full field of candidates.
Bloomberg must be in the pack.
To enable that, the law limiting mayors to two consecutive terms must be amended to give voters the choice to extend Bloomberg's leadership for four more years, should they so desire.
But, of course, Bloomberg must first declare his intentions. His coyness must end. He must show the courage to support rewriting a law that was approved twice by the voters - not to expunge term limits, but to move the line from eight to 12 years.
The editorial comes on the heels of this story in the Times, dated August 22nd, 2008:
Over the last several weeks, Mr. Bloomberg has held confidential conversations with Rupert Murdoch, chairman of the News Corporation, which owns The New York Post; Mortimer B. Zuckerman, owner of The Daily News; and Arthur Sulzberger Jr., chairman of The New York Times Company, to gauge their views on the issue, according to people familiar with the talks.
The conversations are the clearest evidence to date that Mr. Bloomberg is seriously considering a challenge to the term limits law that will force him from office January 2010.
Apparently, Mayor Bloomberg is quite persuasive. The irony, of course, is that Bloomberg would never have gotten elected without term limits in the first place.
A damning quote in this morning's New York Times lays out the priorities for the Bush-McCain-Paulson plan to take your money and give it to Wall Street. Democrats are attaching provisions to the pending legislation, including but not limited to oversight of the program and conditions on companies that take part, including a cap on executive pay. Paulson is having none of that.
“If we design it so it’s punitive and so institutions aren’t going to participate, this won’t work the way we need it to work,” Mr. Paulson said on “Fox News Sunday.” “Let’s talk about executive salaries. There have been excesses there. I agree with the American people. Pay should be for performance, not for failure.”
But he quickly added: “But we need this system to work, and so we — the reforms need to come afterwards.”
The ultimate punitive effect of the market, the one our newly socialist republican government is scrambling to avoid, is institutional failure. Financial institutions are already scrambling to get their free taxpayer money. But stooge Paulson wants you to believe that they're such greedy pigs that they'll turn down that free money even to save themselves if their top management tier can't be as piggish as they've become accustomed to being at taxpayer expense.
And as to structural reforms, let's just kick that can down the road and hope everyone forgets about this little snafu.
The Paulson bailout plan for Wall Street, currently being shilled on every talk show and due to be voted on in Congress as early as next week, is a disaster waiting to happen and should be stopped.
Paulson's legislation creates a $700 billion revolving fund that will be used, at his sole discretion and without any Congressional oversight or possible intervention whatsoever, to buy up worthless securities, presumably for more than they are worth, and thereby inject liquidity into the collapsing financial sector. At the same time, the plan does little if anything to address the systemic causes of the meltdown: the hyper-leveraged, casino-style market for derivatives and other fun and exciting risk instruments remains untouched by regulation, which is why we're in this mess to begin with.
And just to put a cherry and cream on top of all that, and to underline the point that republicans don't give two shits about normal people, Bush, McCain and Paulson demand from Congress that of these $700 billion, not a dime go to homeowners groaning under mortgage burdens they can no longer afford, or to former homeowners who have had their homes taken by the predatory lenders that got them into this mess.
Barack Obama came out today with a six-point plan to address the shortcomings of Paulson's Golden Parachute (why is there always a golden parachute for the parasites?):
First, there must be no blank check when American taxpayers are on the hook for this much money.
Second, taxpayers shouldn't be spending a dime to reward CEOs on Wall Street.
Third, taxpayers should be protected and should be able to recoup this investment.
Fourth, this plan has to help homeowners stay in their homes.
Fifth, this is a global crisis, and the United States must insist that other nations join us in helping secure the financial markets.
Sixth, we need to start putting in place the rules of the road I've been calling for for years to prevent this from ever happening again.
And finally, this plan can't just be a plan for Wall Street, it has to be a plan for Main Street.
The republican casino is now closed. No more comped martinis for the grubby plutocracy. Congress, do not pass the Paulson plan.
Today/s New York Times carries an article, obviously months in the making, titled A Disability Epidemic Among a Railroad’s Retirees.
Virtually every career [Long Island Railroad] employee — as many as 97 percent in one recent year — applies for and gets disability payments soon after retirement, a computer analysis of federal records by The New York Times has found. Since 2000, those records show, about a quarter of a billion dollars in federal disability money has gone to former L.I.R.R. employees, including about 2,000 who retired during that time.
The L.I.R.R.’s disability rate suggests it is one of the nation’s most dangerous places to work. Yet in four of the last five years, the railroad has won national awards for improving worker safety.
The article goes on to describe staggering sums of money being paid out to retired employees of the transit system.
In fact, two formerly influential figures at the L.I.R.R. — a married couple, one from management and one from labor — are retired and drawing about $280,000 annually in combined disability and pension payments, according to estimates based on public records.
These funds are provided from the railroad's revenue stream - including Federal and state aid - as well as from the Social Security Administration and other Federal budget lines.
A brief look at the MTA's 2008-2013 capital plan (.pdf) shows escalating costs for pretty much everything.
- East Side Access: The cost of this project has grown from $4.3 billion to $7.2 billion, an increase of 67 percent. The proposed capital program allocates $3.1 billion to complete the project. Revenue service is now expected to begin in 2015, six years later than expected.
- Second Avenue Subway: The cost of Phase 1 has grown from $3.8 billion to $4.3 billion, and the completion date has been moved from 2012 to 2015. The proposed capital program allocates $1.4 billion to complete Phase 1.
- Fulton Street Transit Center: The cost of this project has grown from $750 million to $1.2 billion and is now expected to be completed in 2011, more than three years behind schedule. The project has also been scaled down from its initial design. The proposed capital program allocates $295 million to complete the project.
New York has roughly 800 public authorities; nobody seems to know exactly how many there are. Their combined budget is estimated at $80 billion a year. How much of that is essentially a slush fund? Nobody knows, because public authorities don't operate under GAAP rules and are perfectly able - for example, the MTA in 2002 - of keeping two sets of books, one for the public, one for themselves.
So here's a very simple question: considering the amounts of money involved, and the complete lack of transparency and oversight (which stems directly from our divided, dysfunctional legislature) is anyone surprised at these outcomes?
Snarf. I just did a Google for Caesar Trunzo, and here's what it shows in the cached version of his Wikipedia bio.
Caesar Trunzo, is United States politician. He was born May 11, 1916, in Mexico City. He went to Long Island as an illegal immigrant.
That's really immature, but very funny.
Your intrepid bloggers made the trip out to Suffolk yesterday to get a feel of one of our top campaigns yesterday, the contest between Democrat Brian Foley and withered eternal incumbent Caesar Trunzo.
On arrival, more movement than district voters have seen from Trunzo in at least a decade.
The Brookhaven Democratic Committee storefront office.
If you can measure excitement for a campaign by the number of volunteers who show up on one of the last nice Saturdays of the year to go door to door, then this one is through the roof. Very impressive.
Foley speaking to volunteers.
Going door to door.
Many New Yorkers do not have any competitive races in their districts. Yet, particularly with the Iraq Quagmire, the Banking Fiasco and the Wall Street meltdown hitting us all hard, New Yorkers want to help defeat Bush and the Republicans. What can you do? I want to present several things you can do either as a weekend day trip or right from your home. These actions focus on Pennsylvania (a day trip for voter outreach in what I believe is a must-win state for Obama), North Carolina (virtual phone banking to help Obama and an excellent Senate candidate whose chances of winning are about 50/50 right now) and Nevada (virtual phone banking to help an excellent Congressional candidate in a Presidential swing state).
PENNSYLVANIA: Get on the Bus: Sept. 27th Obama Campaign Bus Trip -- NYC to the Lehigh Valley, PA
This comes from a fellow member of the Independent Neighborhood Democrats who has led several very successful voter registration and voter outreach trips to Pennsylvania. Current polling shows Obama ahead in Pennsylvania 47% to 45%...we need that margin to be more comfortable. read more »
(Note: Another cross-post from my website.)
For the past seven years, there has been a disturbing trend in the demographics of New York City. In each of those years, there are fewer children enrolled in our public schools than the year before. In the late 90s, student enrollment increased, but starting with the 2001-02 school year that trend was reversed. If the 2001-02 year were a blip, it could have been chalked up to the 9/11 attacks, but it turned out to be merely the beginning of a longer-term trend (see graph below).
According to Census Bureau estimates*, New York City's population increased by 2.6% from April 1, 2000 to June 1, 2006. Yet during that same time, student enrollment in our public schools declined by 4.4%. I'm not a statistician, but I'm pretty good with numbers, and that seems to me to be a significant difference.
Why is this a problem? read more »
(N.B.: These numbers are as of today's listings, but do not necessarily reflect recent gains by Obama in the polls. State-by-state poll numbers seem to trail national numbers by about a week.)
I'm following four separate handicappers, CNN, the NY Times, Congressional Quarterly (CQ), and the Cook Political Report (Cook). The scenarios are similar, and close enough to make some predictions:
By general consensus (or near consensus), Obama will win:
That's 153 electoral votes.
He is heavily expected to win:
That's 37 more, making the total 190.
He is also expected to win:
That's 48 more, for 238.
He is favored somewhat in:
22 more, making it to 260.
Then there's Colorado, a swing state that Obama could very well win. Those 9 electoral votes give him 269. Even if he loses other swing states: Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Nevada, New Hampshire, he'll still get to that magic 269. read more »
Clarence Norman, the former head of the Brooklyn Democratic Party, is currently in jail for grand larceny and coercion of judicial candidates.
That tells you most of what you need to know about the Brooklyn Democratic Party, one of the more corrupt political organizations outside the Republican Party.
Things change and things stay the same. Things change in that yes, Clarence Norman got caught and thrown in prison. But things stay the same. Norman's replacement, Vito Lopez, has carried on in similar fashion, though perhaps slightly more subtle about it. read more »
The relationship between Muslim Fundamentalists and Mickey Mouse gets stranger and stranger. From Guysen International News:
A sheik from Saudi Arabia, a former diplomat posted in Washington, has put out a fatwa on Mickey Mouse, calling him the new enemy of Islam. "Mickey Mouse is a soldier of Satan, and everything he touches becomes impure," said Sheik Muhammad al-Munajid. (Guysen.International.News)
"According to sharia law, the mouse is a repugnant and corrupting animal," he said during a show broadcast by Al-Majd television.
Interestingly, there is some similarity between the views of Muslim Fundmentalists and Baptist Fundmentalists regarding Disney. Baptists were raging against Disney's corrupting influence (I kid you not) some 11 years before this Saudi sheik jumped on the bandwagon. From Religious Tolerance.org: read more »
I was thinking about the problem Republicans have with the economic effect of cutting capital gains taxes (wait, it gets more exciting soon). The basic effect is an oversupply of venture capital, which leads to a bubble -- the stock market bubble in the 20s, the tech bubble in the 90s, and the housing bubble in this decade. The bubble eventually bursts, and unless the rest of fiscal and monetary policy is sound, the economy is in trouble.
The key, it seemed to me, was to get rid of the oversupply of goods produced by putting all that venture capital to work. (Keep waiting; I'm getting close.) And what more obvious way to rid ourselves of excess goods than by war? War, after all, creates a constant demand for goods, which can be used to balance the excess supply, thus preventing the bubble that eventually bursts.
Then the light bulb went on (here it is) -- I wasn't the first to think of this. This theory was expressed fifty years ago in Orwell's classic book, 1984. I actually haven't read the book in at least 25 years, but the "writings of Emmanuel Goldstein" made such an impression 'way back when that they have stuck with me all those years. read more »
Chilling stuff in this New York Times piece on the ongoing Wall Street meltdown.
Flashes of fear were evident Wednesday as investors clamored for government debt. When investors bid up the price, the yield falls, and it sank on three-month Treasury bills to 0.061 percent, from 1.644 percent a week ago. The yield was the lowest in more than 50 years.
The current U.S. inflation rate is 5.4% per annum. At a yield of 0.061%, investors are tolerating a 5% loss in capital for security. Think about that.
Local governments and other enterprises will feel pressure, too. The city of Chicago and Lincoln Center in New York postponed debt offerings because they would have to pay such high interest rates to investors, said Daniel S. Solender, director of municipal bond management at Lord Abbett & Company.
Municipal debt offering usually go to capital improvements. Usually, that means building stuff and hiring people to do it. If that contracts significantly, as it now probably will, the fallout for local economies could be devastating.
There are some very hard times ahead. Thank you again, republican de-regulators. You rock.
(Diane Savino, Jeff Klein, Joe Mesi, Jim Gennaro, Kristen McElroy, Malcolm Smith, Hiram Monserrate, Dan Squadron, Joe Addabbo)
On the steps of City Hall today, Senate Democrats - present and future - took the fight to the status quo republicans, calling for strong measures to preserve New York jobs and mitigate the crisis cascading down from republican Washington.
The event also served as a coming-out party of sorts for some new faces who will hopefully be swelling the ranks of the Democratic caucus soon, superstar-in-waiting Kristen McElroy, Western New York's Joe Mesi and SD-25 primary winner Dan Squadron.
Make no mistake: the Democrats are serious about taking that majority.
An interesting notice on Albany Project - which received it via email, which I did not, leading me to again question the basic fucking competence of whoever's responsible for this really not very complicated stuff - that Senate Democratic candidates will be rallying today on the steps of City Hall.
(New York, NY) Throughout their 40 years in control of the State Senate, Republicans have failed to meet the needs of working class New Yorkers. With a struggling economy, rising energy costs and the potential loss of jobs in the financial sector, New York can no longer afford the unfulfilled promises of Senate Republicans. Democratic candidates for the State Senate are holding a press conference to blast Republicans for failing to make the changes needed to get New York back on track.
Joseph Addabbo (SD-15)
Brian X. Foley (SD-3)
Jim Gennarro (SD-11)
Hiram Monseratte (SD-13)
Larry de la Rose (SD-39)
Daniel Squadron (SD-25)
City Hall Steps - NYC
Wednesday, September 17, 2008 @ 12 noon
I think that might be worth taking a look at.
Bit by bit the power of Party Boss Vito Lopez is slipping. This was evident in this year's Democratic County Committee meeting this last Monday where what seemed to me to be some three, maybe four, groups of insurgents disrupting the scripted farce.
This was our third County Committee meeting. The first was when Joy was already overdue with Jacob. We had kind of hoped she would go into labor right then and there and disrupt the script. That would have been especially satisfying because it would have disrupted former Party Boss Clarence Norman's last hurrah before he went to prison. But Jacob debut came days later, so he didn't manage to upsatge Clarence Norman. That first meeting was also our entry into the insurgency as we saw what a farce it was, nothing more than a rubber stamp to the Party Boss's power with no real democracy as part of the Democratic Party in Brooklyn. The highlight was Ken Diamondstone's efforts to expose the farce for what it was. Diamondstone's efforts were ineffective, but they were both entertaining and illustrative. Sometimes the only way to fight a farce is with farce. read more »
As we noted when it came out, the recent Siena poll showing a close race in New York precipitated some anxiety among core Obama volunteers, leading apparently to a come-to-Jesus meeting between activists and state director Dave Pollak.
I sent this email to one of the participants on September 15th.
Here's my take: we've seen, since their convention, a weakening in Obama's poll numbers and strengthening in McCain's. That trend peaked and reversed itself about three days ago. Now, we're seeing Obama gaining, interestingly enough, even in some of the state polls that were in the field until yesterday.
I prefer not to do forecasting, but my guess would be that Obama's going to regain the lead in the national tracking polls uniformly in the next week, and that New York right now is roughly Obama 53%, McCain 42%. The Siena poll is perfectly fine methodologically, but apparently, they didn't push leaners, which in terms of the gap benefited McPOW more than it did our guy, since McScumbag was enjoying a bounce, and people moved from Obama to undecided. Note how Siena counts 13% undecided/other, which is very high. The vast majority of those undecideds should be considered Obama leaners.
A new Rasmussen poll today confirms that New York currently goes to Obama, 55% to 42%.
I may have to switch hosting companies yet again. The company I am with right now have no one on staff that knows how to set or manage a Drupal-centric server.
I need an expert who can take my Drupal 4.7 sites, upgrade them to latest D5 and then set up a multi-site installation --meaning, porting all upgraded sites to a "one code base, multiple databases" setup. This means though that you have systems administrative experience and can effectively sort out what my server may need in or to optimize it's hardware as well as it's software (Apace 1.3, MySQL 4+, PHP 5)
Extra brownie points if you can :
- talk me into going straight into D6 (the issue for me is the lack of key modules) and
- also throw in a CiviCRM installation into the mix.
And yes, I will pay. Just make an offer per/project and/or per/hour. Just email me at admin [at] culturekitchen [dot] com. read more »
Politics is in large measure a business of urban legends. The chief beneficiary of these is the republican party, an enterprise founded largely on myths. For example, despite the fact that the most devastating terrorist attacks in our history took place as one George Bush was reading a children's book, they're viewed as strong on terrorism. The demonstrable fact that their war on Iraq has hollowed out the military perhaps beyond repair, they're viewed as competent on issues of defense.
Most perniciously, the republican party that created the current financial and fiscal trainwreck is viewed as a competent steward of the economy.
Here's just an observation: when George Bush took office in 2001, the Dow Jones traded at around 10,659 points. At this writing, per the New York Times live market ticker, it's at 10,831, and dropping like a stone.
Just when you thought the Republicans were ready to shed one of their sleazier, more corrupt members, it seems he is hoping for a comeback. Disgraced Republican Vito "Two-family values" Fossella wants back on the ballot after pledging he wouldn't seek re-election after his drunk driving arrest and the revalation that he was, essentially, a bigamist with two families.
From the Daily News:
Don't count out disgraced Rep. Vito Fossella just yet.
Four months after a DWI arrest and revelations about an out-of-wedlock child forced him to forgo a run for reelection this fall, the shamefaced Staten Island Republican is looking for a way back on the ballot...
There's only one problem: The election lineup is already set.
Ex-Republican Assemblyman Robert Straniere and Democratic Councilman Michael McMahon won primaries last week. Paul Atanasio is the Conservative Party's nominee; Carmine Morano is the Independence Party candidate.
A candidate can only be bumped off the ballot now if they die, move out of state or are nominated to run for a judgeship. read more »