Monday, March 31, 2008

Roughing it in Manhattan

As long as I have to be somewhere, it's not a bad place to be.

I was going to call the butler and have him write this blog post, but I think there's something admirable in taking part in some of the simple labors of the common man.

I know what you're thinking:

Obviously this blogging thing is starting to pay off!

Well, not really.

Not at all, actually.

But the job I have in my regular life makes it necessary to spend a week or so in some of the nicer hotels out there. It's not too bad, really.

Especially on those occasions that CT Joyce can join me for a few days. Like now, for instance. Tomorrow she's going to spend the day at the Museum of Modern Art just around the corner.

Although, there are occasionally little miscues that takes a bit of the fun out of the experience.

Like when I mistakenly told her the 8.45 oz. bottle of mineral water was complimentary, but then finding out by reading the mini-bar sheet we're down seven bucks for what amounted to three gulps of room temperature liquid.

Well, suffice it to say, I'm not even going to TOUCH the scotch!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Fifth Anniversary for "Countdown" tonight

Locally, it's tonight (Sunday) at 7PM on NBC (not MSNBC), the fifth anniversary special episode of "Countdown" with Keith Olbermann.

Here's a snippet from Olbermann's post over on Daily Kos:
Well, it's not a Special Comment, and with one possible exception, I don't think it's particularly nasty towards one side more than the other in the current Democratic Endlessness.

But, if like me, you've recently been called out by Governor Ed Rendell or James Carville, you probably need a few yucks.

So tonight when the show celebrates its 5th Anniversary with our special on NBC, we will be laying on the network folks, four minutes' worth of our exclusive "discovery" of the actual "Commander-In-Chief Threshold Test," the existence of which was revealed by Senator Clinton and Mr. Wolfson earlier in the month.

That's right: if you hear any small explosions or "thunk"-like sounds just after sunset, that may be one of your neighbors exposed to this kind of stuff for the first time, since it's on real tee-vee.

So you know what's coming: we have a video package illustrating the seventeen questions on the test.
QUESTION NINE: How often should the commander-in-chief joke about nuclear holocaust?

Ronald Reagan: "I've introduced legislation to outlaw Russia. We begin bombing in five minutes."

Let me repeat Question Nine: How often should the commander-in-chief joke about nuclear holocaust?

John McCain: "The Beach Boys Song? Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran."

There's more over at Kos, but I don't want to ruin your enjoyment of tonight's show by posting it here. So catch the show, or the inevitable reruns that'll be on MSNBC in a day or two, and have yourself a good laugh.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Olympics 2008: China sells souveniers and human organs

Dr. Kirk James Murphy M.D.posted an horrific story on FireDogLake about China's thriving business selling executed convict's human organs to wealthy foreigners. And then many of them come back home to the U.S. to take advantage of gov't sponsored anti-rejection medications.
As if China's genocide in Tibet and complicity in Darfur weren't reason enough to boycott the Blood Olympics: the Official Hosts selected by the International Olympics Committee to host the 2008 Summer Olympics sell human flesh taken from victims of China's vast, corrupt execution industry. But wait - there's more. We in the US pay for the anti-rejection drugs taken by Medicare recipients who travel to China in order to purchase kidneys from the organ emporium otherwise known as China's "justice" system.


Some depraved recipients fly to China to buy an execution victim's kidney - and then come back and let US taxpayers foot the bill for the drugs - the drugs they need to take for the kidney they bought off the Official Organ Harvesters For The 2008 Summer Olympics.


"The reason for his condemnation of the surgeries was that about 90 percent of the transplanted organs in China were taken from prisoners on death row without their consent.

'Organs removed while prisoner was alive'

The article quoted Dr. Wang Guayoki, a Chinese doctor who escaped China and sought political refuge in the United States. He described before a committee of the House of Representatives how he removed skin and corneas from the bodies of over 100 prisoners who were executed in Chinese prisons.

He explained that the "donors" receive a special injection which prevents their blood from clotting and aids in preserving their organs. The execution team shoots the prisoners in the head while a medical staff stands by in order to remove the organs meant for transplants.

Dr. Guayoki recounted a particularly shocking case where kidneys were removed from a prisoner while he was still alive due to a faulty execution. Other testimonies brought before congress confirmed other such cases."
Read the entire story on FireDogLake. Sorry if this offends any Chinese nationals out there. Keep in mind that I don't dislike the Chinese people; in fact, I think they're pretty much like everyone else, but I think their system of government is among the worst the world has ever seen.

I can't speak for anyone else, but I'm making a vow not to watch a single minute of Olympic coverage this summer. I'm not buying a single product advertised on the broadcasts. And I'm not going to buy a stupid T-shirt with their logo on it.

Sorry, but until the IOC institutes real standards into it's selection process for host countries, the Olympics will ALWAYS be somewhat political in nature.

Maybe we can find an island somewhere and establish a permanent "ideology-free zone" and create an Olympic wonderland there, where the games will be held in perpetuity. That would be cool.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

We won the Jim Himes Pub Quiz!

UPDATE: More photos added below!

Jim Himes and (Himes' campaign manager) Maura Keaney pictured. Tonight's pub quiz for Jim Himes was a huge success. We had enough people participating to field ten teams!

Here's the winning team, "The Nay-Shayers Starring Connecticut Bob", featuring Mike and Tessa (they deserve credit for our team's name), Jon Kantrowitz (the only other guy in the room to run against Chris Shays), Leslie, Marion (not-pictured), and of course, ME! We managed to overcome near impossible odds to snatch screaming victory from the jaws of certain defeat!

Or, maybe we just got lucky.

One of the questions asked was what is Jim's middle name. I couldn't help myself and hollered "Hussein!", and got a big laugh. I was more careful this time around not to jokingly yell out answers inadvertently to bonus questions like I did in the first pub quiz (but really, who would have thought that "Milk of Magnesia" could actually be the answer to a question?)

Tessa pictured with Jim Himes. If you know anyone who hasn't yet contributed to Jim's campaign, please let them know that even a $5 donation will be a big help, because the number of unique contributors is important in fundraising. Of course, you can continue to contribute too, but please visit Jim's revamped website and tell your friends to drop a fiver on a true Democrat before the quarter ends on March 31st.

Congressman Chris Murphy stopped by and he made some remarks to the crowd in support of Jim. Chris is a good guy, and we need to make sure he stays in Congress.

Plus, he agreed to sit for an interview with me sometime in the near future. I'm looking forward to hearing his thoughts on his first term in Congress and the issues that face us.

And yes, my name tag says, "Hello, my name is". Gotta keep promoting!

The 2nd Place team, named "Stranded in Newark". Hmmmm...I'll bet there's a funny story to go with that name.

Charles and Maura are compiling the winning scores for my team, which (in case you've forgotten) is called "The Nay-Shayers Starring Connecticut Bob"!

Jim discussing the issues with some of the less intelligent teams.

...OK, that's just mean!

The crowd goes wild after my team ("The Nay-Shayers Starring Connecticut Bob") is proclaimed the winner!

Or, they might be reacting to Jim speaking just off the left side of the image, I forget.

Many thanks are due to Charles Monaco and Maura Keaney, along with all the volunteers and contributors, who made Pub Quiz 3 an outstanding success!

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Rick Noriega gets Progressive Patriot nod

From the campaign website:
Houston, TX -- U.S. Senate candidate Lt. Col. Rick Noriega today expressed his gratitude to the thousands of Americans who participated in the nomination and selection process of the Progressive Patriots' Fund, a process that led to Noriega's selection as 2008's first "Progressive Patriot."

Said Noriega, "We're running hard in every county in Texas, to hold Senator Cornyn accountable for his failure to take on our health care and energy crises, his support for the economic policies that are leading us to economic disaster, and his failure to demand a responsible plan to get us out of Iraq. And people are responding."

"Grassroots Democrats from across the nation had a number of excellent Senate candidates to choose from, and I'm grateful they selected me as the first Progressive Patriot of 2008. I'm also grateful for the support of the Texas grassroots, who I know helped make this endorsement possible. While no one is going to agree with me on every issue, I intend to honor their support by fighting every day for the families in Texas and across America who are being left out by Mr. Cornyn's special interest agenda. I will continue the momentum of change and accountability in Washington over the next eight months on the campaign trail, and as Texas' next U.S. Senator."
Rick Noriega served our nation honorably in Afghanistan for a 14-month deployment, and returned to help coordinate Hurricane Katrina relief efforts. He has emerged as the one Democrat who can defeat conservative Sen. John Cornyn, especially in this year when a huge Democratic turnout is expected in Texas (as shown by the primary earlier this month).

Please visit to learn more and to support a true progressive candidate.

(h/t to Tessa)

Sunday, March 23, 2008

John Hartwell for State Senate

Redding Pilot: "Democrat eyes 26th Senate District seat"
Mar 7, 2008 - Page One
by Susan Wolf

John Hartwell knows where he wants to put his name come November — on the Democratic Party's ballot for the state's 26th Senate District.

Mr. Hartwell, of Westport, a strategy consultant to the financial services industry, has been quietly campaigning and amassing money for his run for the party's nomination at the May 19 state convention. If he is successful, he could be pitted against longtime Senator Judith Freedman, also from Westport. She has not yet announced her intention to seek another term.
Many of you might know John Hartwell as the Treasurer for Ned Lamont's ground breaking 2006 Senate campaign. Of course, there's much more to him than that, so visit the John Hartwell 2008 website to learn more.

John is raising funds for his campaign, and he's just about at the threshold of the required $15,000 to qualify for public funding. However, while he just about has all the cash required, he still needs a number of individual donors to meet the "contributor threshold", which is a minimum of 300 contributors within the 26th District.

That means if you (and your spouse, along with friends, family, and acquaintances within that district) want to get on board with a true Democrat, all you need to do is make a small donation (minimum $5 - yup, just five measly bucks!) to John's campaign.

First, you need to be a resident in ANY of these towns, even if you don't live exactly within the boundaries of the 26th District: Westport, Bethel, New Canaan, Wilton, Redding, Ridgefield, or Weston.

Simply download and print THIS FORM, fill it out and send it with your check to the address listed on it.

A five dollar contribution is as good as a $100 one, so you get more value for your buck if you fill out one form and make a contribution, and your spouse fills out another and writes a separate check.

The landmark Connecticut Public Funding law has made it easier for more people to run for office. Without it, there might not have been a Democratic challenger in the 26th District this year. And it helps keep the playing field level and reduces the amount of influence the large contributors, corporate lobbyists and PACs have on a candidate.

Look for more info about John's run on this blog, and please make a minimum contribution if you live in the 26th!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Becoming Drudge

One of the online news sources I read on a daily basis is The Raw Story. I find they often have little known yet interesting stories that sometimes get lost in the MSM shuffle.

However, lately I've been noticing a trend toward more tabloid-style reporting and less in-depth political analysis.

Today I was extremely dismayed to find they ran a story on the uproar over the Danish cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad portrayed with a bomb on his head, and they reproduced the cartoon on their front page. The image above is a screen cap of their front page with the offensive image blurred out.

I understand and agree completely that they have the right to do so, and it would be extremely disingenuous of me to deny that to them. BUT, along with the right to free speech there should well be a certain amount of personal responsibility.

I wonder if the Raw Story editors even realize that there ARE Muslims out there who live peaceful lives and want absolutely nothing to do with terrorism. Yet they publish this extremely hurtful and disrespectful image. Is it because they think it's OK to bash a religion that some adherents use for violent political purposes?

All this does is breed resentment and hatred. It makes peaceful Muslims feel more estranged from Ameri-European culture, and may push some unstable yet moderate people over the edge to extremism.

I can understand Matt Drudge posting something like that; he seems to thrive on Islamo-bashing, and it plays well to his demographic. But to see The Raw Story slide down to that level is truly disappointing.

I guess it's true what they say - shit flows downhill.

China urged to crush revolt in Tibet it's state-run newspaper. What a surprise.

The flagship newspaper of China's ruling Communist Party called Saturday for efforts to "resolutely crush" anti-government demonstrations by Tibetans, while Beijing urged people to turn in those on a "Most Wanted" list of 21 protesters.
It’s been about twenty years since the last big freedom rebellion in China, which ended with the infamous Tiananmen Square Massacre.

And exactly like that last rebellion, the U.S. is going to completely ignore this one, too.

President Bush, that ever-shining beacon of Freedom and Democracy (but only for nations with vast oil reserves and shaky dictatorships) will sit listlessly on his hands while thousands of Tibetan protesters are jailed or slaughtered. And China will continue it’s cultural genocide of Tibet with impunity; what’s more, with the implied consent of the United States.

Bush won’t make a memorable speech about freedom for Tibet.

There won’t be the equivalent of Ronald Reagan’s memorable “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall!”

Because America has lost her moral standing in the world. We torture. We hold people indefinitely without trials. We have secret prisons, where people are whisked off to in the night. We are like a ship without a rudder, careening waywardly through the waters of international policy. We lurch from one diplomatic disaster to another, and there’s huge icebergs in the darkness up ahead, while our Captain orders full speed ahead.

China will stop at nothing to quash the rebellion in Tibet. They want to use the 2008 Olympic Games as a propaganda machine to show the world that they’re a wonderful worker’s paradise. China has already muzzled the Olympic athletes of their rights to speech. They’ve politicized the event to a degree we haven’t seen since 1980, when the U.S boycotted the Moscow Olympics to protest Russia’s occupation of Afghanistan.

Isn’t it funny how history is a cache of endless irony?

Let’s take a look at the history of this situation. Tibet was a very isolated place up to the mid-20th century. Peaceful, spiritual, unchanging. The people were left alone to live in peace.

It was a spiritual culture, too. For hundreds of years, Tibetans practiced a type of Buddhism that was central to their culture. One in four male children became a Buddist monk. There were thousands of monasteries dotting the landscape in this holy nation.

Then in 1949, Chairman Mao and the fledgling Chinese Communist government decided to invade and occupy Tibet. They sent thousands of soldiers flooding into the towns and villages, killing and jailing those that resisted. The Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of the nation, was forced to flee to India to avoid capture and imprisonment or execution.

The Chinese Air Force bombed the monasteries. Before the invasion there were over 6,000 of them. By 1970, there were nine left. Their interiors were ransacked of gold and jewels left by the faithful, and the buildings were either destroyed or converted to government structures. There used to be over 120,000 monks or "lamas"; less than a thousand remain, and they are forbidden to practice their religion. China has succeeded in erasing nearly every bit of Tibetan culture, save for what lives on in the hearts and minds of the ethnic Tibetans.

China has built railroads and roads into Tibet, always with little or no regard to the environment, and transplanted hundreds of thousands of ethnic Chinese to live and work there. China also uses Tibet as a dumping ground for hazardous toxins and nuclear waste.

The situation today is no different from any other crisis in history, where an oppressed people stands up against impossible odds. Many will suffer and die. The U.S. won’t do a single thing to try to effect change, because we depend on China for trade and loans.

And the Olympics will go on as scheduled, and it will be a propaganda windfall for China.

(Two books I recommend about Tibet and the oppressive Chinese system: "In Exile From the Land of Snows" by John F. Avadon, and "Across China" by Peter Jenkins)

Friday, March 21, 2008

One year later, nothing has changed

One year ago, I taped the anti-war vigil on the Milford Green to commemorate the lives that were lost in the Iraq War.

A year later, not much is different.

...except for the ever-increasing cost of this war; in lives, in money, and in damage to our nation's soul.

I wonder, what will the sixth anniversary of the war bring?

Dick Blumenthal opposes Broadwater

A Connecticut Bob exclusive!

Video from Attorney General Dick Blumenthal's public statement on his opposition to the Broadwater gas platform!

(I don't know how all the major news organizations missed this!)


Exclusive photo of Attorney General Dick Blumenthal, only on!

(I don't even care if anybody other than me thinks this is amusing, 'cause I think Groucho Marx is an American hero!)

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Floating bomb OK'd for Sound

Thanks to the incredible foresight of our Junior Senator and his unwaivering support of the Cheney Energy Bill, we now have the opportunity to host a future terrorist target, right in the middle of perhaps one of the busiest shipping lanes in North America. Just watch the last five minutes of the movie "Syriana" (image below) to see what I mean.

You couldn't possibly locate this giant gas bomb where it would get more visibility, unless maybe you parked it in the Tidal Basin in D.C. I'm sure there's no likelihood whatsoever of anyone who wants to make a dramatic political statement maybe doing something to it that might cause it to be noticed. Nah, that would never happen.

Please add this to the ever-growing list of reasons why Joe Lieberman is the worst fucking senator Connecticut has ever produced.

(Jesus. It's not like we didn't try to get rid of the bastard!)

This is just great. The timing couldn't be more obvious. We get stuck with this giant sack of shit because Eliot Spitzer couldn't keep it in his pants.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

CT is bigger than TX

In the delegate department, it seems. Look at the CNN Delegate scorecard page, and you'll see what I mean.

Texas held it's election with the infamous "two-step" election process, where 2/3 of the delegates were awarded in the primary and 1/3 in the caucus. Looking at the numbers, along with the totals from the declared super delegates, we see that Obama exceeded Clinton by a score of 109-106.

Now look at our primary. Connecticut's delegate score is Obama 33-23. So that means Obama won huge Texas by merely 3 delegates, and tiny little Connecticut by 10 delegates.

We win.

I know this is a silly exercise, and means little other than filling a blog post without having to work too hard (and believe me, that's my goal more often than I care to admit), but it is kind of interesting to look at other contests and see where Connecticut stands in the delegate balance.

States we beat or tied in the delegate swing either way includes Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Delaware, D.C., Hawaii, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Ohio, Utah, Vermont, and Wyoming. With about 10 states to go.

Clinton won big in California, New York, and Arkansas (naturally), while Obama won by a huge margin in Illinois (again, naturally) and winning by substantial margins in lots of other states.

A weird twist in the delegate awarding process (based on the margin in Congressional districts or counties, not total statewide votes) gave Obama more delegates in states that Clinton "won", such as Nevada and New Hampshire.

There's still the question of Florida and Michigan, both of which are seemingly not very interested in holding another primary and apparently are satisfied to go into the convention without a resolution. Plus, there are a few hundred supers who haven't declared their support; besides, even those who DID state their preference aren't bound to it, so they can change their vote at any point up until the first ballot is cast in Denver.

The prospect of Clinton and Obama fighting each other right up to the convention, rather than attacking the Republicans for their rotten policies, certainly won't help anyone in the long run. Unless something significant occurs soon, it looks like the nightmare will continue all summer.


You know, I usually try not to overuse quotations (especially those that everyone has heard a ga-jillion times), but Will Rogers summed it up with perfect clarity:

"I am not a member of any organized political party...I am a Democrat."

Some things never seem to change.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Messing with Republicans

A good friend of mine is a conservative. We frequently have lively debates about politics, in which he slavishly repeats Republican talking points he heard on FoxNews or right-wing talk radio.

Recently we were discussing how the media seems to be controlling the perception of the candidates to an unhealthy degree. I suggested that it's better to seek out information on your own, through multiple sources, but especially the internet blogs and open forums which have a tendency to be self-correcting through consensus.

Yes, of course there are significant exceptions to this line of reasoning. Many blogs are ridiculously one-sided (hmmm...I can't seem to think of any right now...) and quite a few discourage or ban any contradictory viewpoints. But in a lot of cases you do have a forum to express your opinions and engage in debate about specifics, which is typically denied in a traditional MSM outlet like The O'Rielly Factor or the Glenn Beck show. Those are lectures, not discussions.

So I encouraged him to seek information on his own, even through conservative blogs. I cautioned him to avoid blogs that don't allow dissent, or heavily censor comments that don't agree 100% with their agenda. The important thing is to be able to question the information you're given in a democratic debate.

Naturally, this concept met with some resistance. It's much easier for a majority of people, from BOTH sides of the political spectrum, to get their information through the one-way flow emanating from the TV, radio, or newspapers. But conservatives especially seem to accept being lectured at more readily than progressives.

And I raised the example of how the media, especially the conservative media, had made a big thing out of Barack Obama's middle name. He tried to claim it wasn't an important issue, that a candidate's middle name was simply part of his name and is often mentioned in a newscast. He took the position that the name of a candidate should be widely known.

I asked him if he knew Obama's middle name.

He didn't hesitate. "Hussein!" he triumphantly proclaimed.

Then I asked him what John McCain's middle name was.

After several wildly inaccurate guesses, he meekly admitted he didn't have a clue.

I had to laugh.

Monday, March 17, 2008

The Battle of the Lefty Blogosphere

As many of you probably know, I've been politically active on the internet for only a few years now; and next month will be the second anniversary of this blog. It's been quite the education, that's for sure. I greatly appreciate that you take the time to read this stuff (in fact, it frequently amazes me that anyone reads my blog!)

One thing that I lately find astonishing within the lefty blogosphere is the not-entirely undeserved but still surprising animosity between the supporters of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton.

This is astonishing because there hasn't been a year in the last few decades in which the Democratic Party has been in such an advantageous position to take control of both the Executive and Legislative branches of our government. This was certain to be THE year for the Democrats.


...because of the twisted machinations of fate, the party is locked in an increasingly bitter and antagonistic contest for the nomination. Obama and Clinton are nipping and swiping at each other nearly every day.

And this acrimony is starting to seep into the lefty blogosphere. It's impossible to ignore, actually.

On national blogs such as FireDogLake and DailyKos there have been quite a few people who have either complained about "Obama bias", or have simply stopped participating altogether. Some frequent commenters on Kos have actually gone "on strike" as a protest.

I'm not interested in discussing the reasons it seems the blogs favor Obama right now; that's a topic for a later post. What I'm most concerned about is how we deal with the situation we currently have and how we can prevent it from tearing apart our unified support of the eventual nominee.

The thing that's starting to really bother me is how we (and I include myself in that grouping) are getting less than civil with each other. I've read too many comments on blogs that contain roughly this statement: "If so-and-so wins the nomination, I'm a.) voting for McCain, or b.) voting for Nader, or c.) not going to vote!"

This is exactly the wrong attitude to encourage.

We need to remember a few things here.

First of all, neither Hillary nor Barack was the favorite candidate of the left blogosphere back when this started early last year. Both candidates are likely second or third choices for a majority of us. John Edwards, Chris Dodd and Dennis Kucinich were my preferred candidates before they dropped out. That would make Barack Obama my FOURTH choice at best.

But you need to understand that even though Hillary Clinton is pretty much my FIFTH choice, if she gets the nomination, that will make her the person I'll vote for and work to see win in November. I'll put aside any reservations about how she ran her campaign and support her 100%. Because no matter how underhanded and nasty either campaign gets, it won't even compare to the shit storm that awaits us if John Sidney McCain the III manages to slither into the White House while everyone is still shell-shocked from the Clinton-Obama brawling.

We all need to make a sincere effort to respect the choices our fellow Democrats make, and remind each other that no matter WHAT, we'll ALL need to work together going into the stretch to see a Democrat WIN in November.

So please, let's all take a deep breath, agree to disagree but respect each other, and work together to kick John Sidney McCain's butt this year.

Because, as Ben Franklin so eloquently stated when referring to America's fledgling insurrection against unjust rule by England:

"We must, indeed, all hang together or, most assuredly, we shall all hang separately."

It's nearly the end of the quarter

And you know what THAT means...

It's time for the Jim Himes Pub Quiz and Springtime Extravaganza!

(OK, I made up that last bit because I'm so happy that Winter is finally over and sailing season is coming!)

This is going to be a fun one! We had a great turnout last time, considering it was very close to Christmas and a winter storm was bearing down on Bridgeport; but this time we're expecting a LARGE and ENTHUSIASTIC crowd!

Here's the four-one-one:

Minimum suggested donation $25
Sign up now at ActBlue!

WEDNESDAY, March 26th
7:00-9:00, Pub Quiz starts promptly at 7:30
Bradford's Grill (same pub as the Sept. 2007 gathering)
83 Bedford St. (2nd floor party room)
Stamford, CT
(free beer and pizza while supplies last!)

Let's all join together and make this image of the proposed 2009 CT Congressional Delegation a reality! (L-R: Chris Murphy, Jim Himes, Rosa DeLauro, Joe Courtney, John Larson)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

"Lies, damned lies, and statistics"

Courageous Kansas Rep. Nancy Boyda spoke about her vote on the House FISA bill yesterday at the Kansas Democratic Convention. Nancy is an ActBlue Democrat in a very red state, and she bravely withstood a concerted disinformation campaign by the RNC to pressure her to fold on FISA. In this talk, she uses common sense and plain talk to neatly shred every single Republican talking point.

It's leaders like Nancy Boyda that give me hope for the future of our nation. If you like what she says, consider dropping her a note of thanks at Boyda Bloc.

(via mcjoan at Daily Kos)

Friday, March 14, 2008

Bravo Congressman Courtney

via Joesaho at My Left Nutmeg. And support Rep. Courtney HERE!

Rep. Chris Shays of course voted against the bill, doing his very best to ensure Bush's efforts to spy on Americans without oversight continues unhindered. Let's all work to make sure Jim Himes is our Congressman from the 4th District next year. You KNOW he'll stand up for your rights!

Telecom immunity is bad for everyone

Except for the President, his cabal of insanely wealthy insiders, and a few ginormous corporations.

They LOVE the idea of retroactive immunity.

(Note: Update on today's vote at the end of this post)

The House is currently debating HR 3773, which is similar to the Senate FISA extension bill which was passed overwhelmingly recently (due in large part to Harry Reid's abdication of his responsibilities to the Constitution), except for the exclusion of retroactive immunity protection for the telecommunications companies. Other than that, the House bill extends the necessary laws to protect our nation from international terrorists.

But President Bush's head nearly exploded at the possibility that his beloved telecom companies may be called into court to explain why they may have violated the rights of American citizens. He considers any questioning of his authority to be a direct personal attack, and with the stubbornness we've come expect from him, he refuses to compromise even one little bit.

He would rather see terrorists attack our nation again than jeopardize the profits of some of his biggest corporate donors. He promises a veto of ANY bill that protects America which doesn't include retroactive immunity.

The whole question of immunity is distinctly unfair to the American people. Immunity is something that's usually used in criminal trials to encourage someone who is clearly guilty of a crime to testify against someone else. The presumption of guilt and the threat of punishment is usually the incentive to get their testimony. Too often we see a clearly guilty party get a pass in order for prosecutors to build a case against a bigger target.

This is the way it's done in the criminal justice system.

Most of the time, we the people are left feeling that justice wasn't fully served, but we're willing to accept the compromise to get the "big fish" convicted.

In the case of the telecoms, President Bush and the endless parade of Republicans appearing on the floor of the House are lying about this bill. We will get an extension of the bill passed today that President Bush can sign and keep us protected. Except for his refusal to let the courts decide if the telecoms broke the law, we'd have the FISA extension in place.

And the threat that the telecoms won't cooperate with a government order to legally monitor communications is ludicrous. The government has full power to order the telecoms to cooperate, and the tools necessary to ensure they do so. Such as FCC regulations and licensing that can be immediately suspended if they don't cooperate.

Let's see how well AT&T works without the ability to communicate within the USA. They'll help us. With pleasure.

I don't know how the Democratic Congressmen can listen to the full litany of Republican falsehoods being played out in front of them without jumping up and screaming "Lies! You're all LIARS!"

I'm yelling so much at my TV (C-Span is covering the House debate) that I'm getting hoarse.

Yes, I know they can't hear me. But it makes me feel better.

UPDATE: The House passed H.R. 3773 by a vote of 213-197. This bill includes some legal wrangling that allows telecoms to have an easier time of defending themselves, but stops well short of providing legal immunity. This is a small victory in the ongoing battle to regain our rights, because now the Senate and House are going on vacation for two weeks, and when they return the bill will have to go over to the Senate to be considered.

Every time a FISA bill passes both Houses and is vetoed by the Bush, it makes him and the Republicans look bad. That can only help the Democrats in November.

Winter Soldier

Going on this weekend (March 13-16) is a gathering of Iraq veterans called Winder Soldier. This is based on the original Winter Soldier conference held in 1971 by Vietnam veterans, including Sen. John Kerry, to explore abuses and war crimes against American soldiers and local citizens during the Vietnam war.

Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan will feature testimony from U.S. veterans who served in those occupations, giving an accurate account of what is really happening day in and day out, on the ground.

The four-day event will bring together veterans from across the country to testify about their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan - and present video and photographic evidence. In addition, there will be panels of scholars, veterans, journalists, and other specialists to give context to the testimony. These panels will cover everything from the history of the GI resistance movement to the fight for veterans' health benefits and support.

A preview video of the event, hosted by Iraq Veterans Against The War, is viewable HERE. Streaming video of the event is also available at this link (it brings you to the video test page; just click HOME on that page and follow the link for live video). Conferences and speeches will start at 9AM today and Saturday and 10AM Sunday.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Blumenthal to make casinos smoke free

This is a story that effects me directly.

CT Joyce just went to the casino and came home $18 wealthier...and smelling of smoke. Now, I'm all for the money part. Money is fun and useful and easy to carry. But the smoke, not so much.

So when Attorney General Richard Blumenthal proposed that Connecticut has the authority to protect the health and safety of casino employees, I was relatively pleased.

I say "relatively", because one of my little idiosyncrasies is that while I enjoy smoking the occasional cigar, I happen to detest the smell of cigarettes. Yeah, I'm weird that way. But I'm willing to forgo the retro thrill of burning a stogie in a casino for the general health of my (and everyone else's) lungs.

Christine Stuart (photo credit) from CT News Junkie has more:
Attorney General Richard Blumenthal decided Thursday that the state has the authority to ban smoking at two casinos belonging to the Mashantucket Pequot and Mohegan Tribes.

Blumenthal said there’s a clause in the compact between the tribes and the state that allows the state to regulate health and safety standards.
I think it's simply common sense. I'm not a big fan of casino gambling, but on the few times I've been there, it's always made me somewhat uncomfortable to see some elderly slot machine aficionado with a tank of highly volatile oxygen sitting next to a doddering old chain smoker who isn't very aware of the dangerous chemical interaction potential of a spark in an oxygen-rich environment.

In related news, so far there's no evidence whatsoever that Richard Blumenthal has frequented executive escort services.

Let's hope it stays that way. Please keep it in your pants, Dick.

Hillary plagarized McCain video

OK, can we FINALLY put all the talk about Obama borrowing text for his speeches from his own supporters to rest?

Hillary Clinton's famous "3AM" ad was obviously inspired by an amateur McCain ad that was posted on Youtube back in early January.

You decide if this is plagiarism.

Let's face it. The Internet has established an environment where it's simply too easy to harvest ideas and concepts. There is almost NOTHING original being done anymore.

We should probably just assume that everything new is based on something already out there, and chalk it up as a by product of modern cyberspace. This post is recycled from a comment by Nonie3234 on Daily Kos, for instance.

The best we can hope for is that people give credit where it's due and move on. I try to credit when possible, but I'll admit to the occasional lapse due to time constraints or just plain mistakes.

But at least I try.

BTW, my version of Hillary's 3AM ad (which I freely plagiarized from her ad, but I did credit it) has over 24,000 hits, and has moved into 4th place out of 155 videos on my Youtube page. It recently overtook the "Joe & George: A Love Story" and "Lieberman On Hastert" videos, and is approaching the "Richard Goodstein speaks his mind" and the "Elizabeth Kucinich Interview" videos.

However, with over 58,000 hits, the "Barbara Boxer & Joe Lieberman" video is probably safe at #1 for the time being.

Meanwhile, a video of Chris Crocker crying hysterically about Britney gets 17,000,000 hits!


And finally, a CNN report from a while back on Phil de Vellis's "1984" ad mentioned the similarity between his video and mine. While I wouldn't be surprised if Phil had seen my video before making his, I don't think it really matters. His version of it was a lot better than mine, and I make no claim on the concept, which I got from someone on (was it Scarce? I forget...I'm fairly certain I credited whomever at the time)

FBI using laws to spy on everyone

From the Associated Press:
Audit to cite FBI privacy abuses

AP News - Mar 13, 2008 02:32 EST

The FBI improperly obtained personal information about Americans as part of terrorism investigations in 2006, but steps were taken by the agency to prevent future privacy abuses, an upcoming Justice Department report says.

The long-anticipated audit, to be released Thursday, is expected to show a fourth consecutive year of privacy breaches by FBI agents using so-called national security letters to gain access to telephone, e-mail, and financial records of Americans and foreigners without a judge's approval.
Anyone who believes that the Patriot Act and similar surveillance laws aren't being abused to spy on innocent Americans is living in a fantasy world. who can we think of that might fall under that classification?

Let's see...maybe George W. Bush?

How about Bush the Third? Uh, I mean John Sidney McCain III?

And we can't forget Joseph Isadore Lieberman now, can we?

They all live together in their little fantasy world, where the map of the entire nation is painted red, terrorists reside under every bed, and all the Democrats in Congress meekly submit to the will of the mighty Republican executive branch.

Well, they can forget about that. Congress is finally demanding accountability. The day of reckoning is approaching. And it ain't gonna be the Rapture that George W. Bush so fervently hopes it'll be.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Alright, NOW I know what he was thinking

He obviously gave the poor gal $4400 because she can't afford warm clothes! I mean, just look at her...she's probably half frozen in that skimpy bikini. The governor was simply trying to keep her from catching a cold.

What a guy!

(yes, I know it was a weak joke. I'd be worried about this apparent lowering of the standards of this blog if I had any standards)

Spitzer will probably complete the trifecta

This is why they call NY-NJ-CT the "tri-state area". Because we are bound together geographically, economically, and politically in many ways.

Here's another reason why we're similar:

New York will probably become the final state in the grouping in which the governor resigns in disgrace.

First, there's good ol' John Rowland, disgraced governor of Connecticut who was forced to resign in the wake of a corruption scandal.

Then we can't forget Jim McGreevey, the New Jersey governor who resigned after admitting that he had had an extramarital affair with a male employee.

And now, we have Eliot Spitzer, former Attorney General and current governor of New York. He set the record for brevity, managing to screw up his prestigious job only 14 months after taking office. We're waiting for an announcement any time now that Lt. Gov. David Paterson will assume the office of governor for New York. Even a fighter like Spitzer won't want to see this thing get dragged out any more than necessary.

One thing I've noticed on the news in relation to this scandal is the amazing frequency of the question "What was he thinking?"

This question always seems to be asked with a little exasperated snicker, and a hint of condescension. But let's look at what he really might have been thinking.

There's no doubt that expansive power often brings arrogance and a sense of entitlement. That arrogance often helps a person get through all the bullshit one goes through when seeking a high office. But it's very tempting to start seeing yourself as different than the people you represent, especially considering the way a governor is treated: being chauffeured everywhere, attending important events as a VIP, and being the recipient of the respect that the office generates. It's easy to imagine that a governor starts seeing himself as more of a king than an elected official, and his constituents as serfs.

With that kind of arrogance, it doesn't require a quantum leap of imagination to picture someone in that position behaving the way Spitzer apparently did. He obviously began to see himself as someone who deserves the perks of being the king. And that means, in his case, taking huge liberties with the law that he so valiantly pursued and protected as Attorney General. Because he started seeing himself as "above" everyone else.

The downside of that kind of reasoning is that when they first get away with something illegal/immoral/just plain dumb, it only reinforces the behavior and the sense of "invincibility". That leads to more and more instances of these legal/moral lapses. Eventually, they get caught. It happens all the time.

Like former governor Rowland. He started using state contractors to do work on his summer cottage. Soon he was involved in all sorts of shady behavior, like taking gifts from subordinates and taking partial ownership of businesses immediately prior to them being awarded government contracts.

At some point, as inevitable as Hamlet, the downfall will occur.

And it's never pretty.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Boston blogging

I'm on the road again, this time in Boston. Installing a hotel wireless network. This trip is nice because CT Joyce was able to take a few days off and lounge about in this swanky hotel while I slave away during the day.

Here's the view from our hotel window. The city looks great from here.

We can also see the shipping channel from here. The freighters and various ships go by all day long.

The great thing about Boston is how many people I know who live up here. Caffeinated Geek Girl is working for ActBlue in Boston, and I try to see her every time I come up here. My niece Liz (grand-niece actually; I was an uncle at age seven) lives and works here.

So last night we all had dinner at Amhrein's, a very nice restaurant/bar located in Southie. It was a swell dinner and a lot of fun.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Spay or neuter your politician

In addition to saving lives, spaying and neutering can also drastically improve your politician's health and life expectancy. The idea that politicians become fat or lazy when they are spayed or neutered is a myth. Sterilized politicians lead healthier, longer lives. Neutering a male reduces the risk of both prostate enlargement and prostate cancer. Neutering also will make your politician more calm and well behaved and less likely to roam, get in fights, or become lost.

"You only need to take off THIS much!"

The Torture President

It's legal, according to the President.

George W. Bush took another step today to ensure his place in history as the Worst President Ever by vetoing a bill that would have outlawed the use of torture during interrogations.

And the guy who was actually tortured during his internment in Vietnam is joyful at the prospect. John Sidney McCain III voted against the bill when it was before the Senate. This is a man will betray any closely held personal belief or will align himself with anyone who can help him in his raw ambition for the Oval Office.

The news of the veto is loudly echoing around the world, further damaging our nation's standing.

The UK Guardian: Bush vetoes move to ban water torture
International Herald Tribune: Bush's veto of bill on CIA tactics affirms his legacy
CTV Canada: Bush to veto bill banning harsh interrogations
Melbourne Herald Sun, Australia Bush vetoes Bill to ban torture tactics
Xinhua, China: Bush thumbs down bill banning CIA from waterboarding terrorists

Jesus. Did you ever think fucking China would be in a position to lecture us on the use of torture? OK, maybe they're not actually lecturing us, but the fact that we made their news because of our barbaric leader's decision really annoys me.

Suddenly China doesn't have to defend their policies in Tibet anymore. All they need to do is point to US, and they're off the hook.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

The myth of Hillary's Texas "win"

The famous "Texas Two-step" has another twist in store.

To refresh your memory, Texas held a Democratic primary which Hillary won by a 51% to 48% margin, splitting 2/3 of the total delegates with Barack 65 to 61, a net gain of 4 delegates for Hill.

But the second step is a caucus, which will decide 1/3, or 67 of the delegates. Currently the count stands at Barack with 56% to Hillary's 44% with only 41% of the vote reported.

What is the big delay with the results here? Well, apparently Texas set up their caucus system reporting with a 72-hour deadline, or by Friday night. I'm guessing they're also taking the weekend off, so we probably won't see final results until Monday at the earliest.

Based on the caucus voting trends, we'll probably see Barack win with about a 37-30 delegate edge. This will effectively give Obama the "win" in Texas, with a total of 98 to 95 delegates.

However, the long delay in reporting these results enables Hillary to endlessly squawk about her "major victory" in Texas. When in fact, it looks as if Obama will benefit from the state.

The MSM hasn't picked up on this at all, and simply repeats the Clinton campaign propaganda that she "won" the state. Obviously, the media's "love affair" with Obama is over, and it's going to be a knock-down fight from here on in.

Steve-AR from FireDogLake supplied this excellent link to the Texas caucus results.

Saturday, March 08, 2008

Foster (D-IL) wins Hastert's old seat

In a special election today to fill former House Speaker Dennis Hastert's seat, who retired late last year, progressive Democrat Bill Foster stunned hand-picked Republican successor Jim Oberweis by a margin of 52%-48%.

This was in a district that is as Red as they get. Ronald Reagan was born there. Dennis Hastert served as Congressman for 20 years. John Sidney McCain took time out of his busy campaign schedule to personally endorse and appear at an Oberweis fund raiser.

Barack Obama endorsed Bill Foster and worked to see him win. There's already talk of Obama's coattails helping get Democrats elected in November. Obama also won the Wyoming caucuses today by nearly 20% over Hillary Clinton.

I think we're completely justified in indulging in a little partisan frenzy to celebrate. So here's a blast from the past, where a traitorous former Democrat defends Dennis Hastert's alleged efforts to protect suspected child molester Mark Foley.

Shameful behaviour

Hillary Clinton seems determined to destroy the Democratic party's chances in November if she doesn't get the nomination. Absolutely shameful.

Friday, March 07, 2008

McCain gets testy

I know, what a surprise.

Here's a cute little video of John Sidney McCain the Third being interviewed on an airliner recently, and he gets a bit miffed at the line of questioning from a NY Times reporter.

Apparently, John Sidney didn't like being asked about John Kerry's supposed overtures to him about taking the VP slot on a bipartisan ticket back in 2004. Which would have won, and made history, and I would have been thrilled to get Bush out of the White House even if we had to put a warmongering conservative in as Vice President.

Because I wasn't worried about him outliving John Kerry. The guy was already pushing up against the median life expectancy tables back then. He's only surpassed in everyone's death pool by Mike Wallace, Hugh Hefner, and Studs Terkel.

I guess John Sidney was worried that if he directly answered the question he might somehow be trapped. I've seen that look in a candidate's eyes when they hate the questions I'm asking. Soon the look turns into pure hatred for me. When a public figure gets pissed off while he's talking and you're holding a video camera, it's a huge rush. The reporter flippantly asked, at one point after being angrily rebuffed by the candidate, "why are you so angry?"

I had to laugh. Having been there myself, I totally understood what she was feeling.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

More pictures from Times Square

This morning I finished my work early and checked out of the hotel around 9AM. I walked the three blocks to the Army recruiting center where the explosion took place, to get a few pictures.

Traffic was moving well, and other than a lot of tourists (like me) taking pictures and milling around, it was basically a normal weekday morning in Times Square. The blast occurred about 5 hours earlier, and I'm relieved to see the terrorist chose not to injure the thousands of people who would have been in the area during rush hour.

This is where the bomb exploded. You can see obvious damage to the door and a lot of glass, but other than that it doesn't seem like much. It was loud, though, even up on the 35th floor.

This is the press conference on the same island as the recruiting center, which would be to the right of this image. Mayor Bloomberg spoke to the media, along with other NYC officials. The mood in the area was sort of casual. Nobody seemed on edge at all.

Here's the view from next to the center looking north at the press conference. The damaged area is just around the front of that building on the left.

I stood on the same spot as the previous picture and turned around and shot this image of the NYPD sub-station. I'd imagine the cops on duty there must have jumped out of their skins when that thing went off! I was probably 600 feet away when it exploded, and it woke me out of a sound sleep; they were maybe 75 feet from it!

Finally, the Chrysler Building looms over Grand Central Terminal. Because it was a nice day and I had my camera with me.

Times Square blast

My first terrorist attack.

Yes, it woke me up. 3:43 AM, a loud "boom". I knew immediately it was some kind of explosion. I stayed in bed and listened for the sirens. After about a minute I only heard a couple, then it was kind of quiet, so I didn't worry about it and fell back asleep. If it was 9/11 part II, I'd have heard all hell breaking loose.

When I woke up this morning, I turned on the news and saw the blast occurred at the famous Army recruiting center in Times Square. I can't quite see it from my window. No injuries, only minor damage. Mostly to the big LCD screen attached to the building.

As terrorist attacks go, I don't have much of a story to tell. It's kind of like visiting San Francisco and feeling a small tremor. When you get home you have a little anecdote to tell your friends, but the Bay Area locals aren't very impressed with it.

Same thing here.

(News vans in front of my hotel this morning)

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Times Square blogging

This is the view from my hotel room on the 35th story of a luxury high-rise on Broadway. It's a comp room as a result of a project that I'm working on at this hotel all week. Nice view, eh?

Last night I fleetingly thought of throwing myself out the window in a moment of sheer desperation, but it passed. Plus, I could only open the window about five inches because they have those Eric Clapton baby guards on them. So I wasn't really tempted.

But the frustration remains, mostly at the Democratic party. I still can't believe that we're in a situation right now which will more than likely put a wacky old geezer in charge of our nation next January.

Why the hell didn't Al Gore run, like we all hoped he would? Instead, the very best our party could cough up are two very similar conservative Democrats, both of whom possess a blood-lust for the Oval Office that would embarrass Richard Nixon. Or Hubert Humphrey even.

And it's looking like we're in for a long and brutal process that will likely alienate nearly half the Democrats out there. Not to mention probably 70% of the unaffiliated voters and 100% of any moderate Republicans who might normally be tempted into voting for a true progressive candidate. Jesus!

Hey, I just noticed the window guards are only held in place with a couple of philips-head screws. Hmmm, I think my tool bag is around here somewhere...

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

We're in for months of hell

It could have ended tonight.

We could have had a de facto Democratic nominee.

Two stupid states could have stood up and ended this craziness. A big win by Obama in either Texas or Ohio tonight probably would have convinced Sen. Clinton to step aside.

But, no.

It ain't gonna happen. Not now. Not for a looonnng while.

The incredible irony about this is that 2008 was the year for us. The year when we had an absolute slam-fucking-dunk to take the White House. A sure thing. A piece o' cake. With cherries on top.

All we needed was a single candidate who was clean enough, and could string three or more words together in a cohesive sentence, and we'd be home free.

And what happens?

The Democrats managed to somehow cough up TWO candidates that have managed to split the electorate RIGHT DOWN THE GODDAMNED MIDDLE!

What this does is two-fold. First, we get another six weeks to SIX MONTHS of party infighting and sniping, which will give the Republicans ammunition for the general election; and second, it raises the likelihood of a brokered (and fractured) convention in August.

All of which will help ensure that the hand most likely to answer that stupid fucking phone at 3AM is going to be male, old, and liberally festooned with liver spots!