Thursday, April 22, 2010

New York Governors Watch

What's happening with the New York Governors these days? Who cares? Well, here's a rundown, in case you do...

David Paterson is a lame duck. Since he decided not to run again for Governor, he's hasn't been in the news nearly as much.

Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, who hasn't announced that he's running but who I think will be our next Governor, has gone after Pedro (Yes, Pedro) Espada and his profiting-off-the-nonprofit ways. Pedro said something about the "political establishment" going after him as payback. Dude. You're Majority Leader. I think you ARE the political establishment. Anyway, Andrew still hasn't announced that he's running. And he never gives interviews. He's an oddball, this Andrew Cuomo.

Disgraced former Governor Elliot Spitzer is slowly but surely planning his comeback. He's a bit of a Wall Street expert, so he's turning up on TV here and there while financial reform is in the news. Unfortunately for him, it's going on at the same time that the prostitute he made famous is appearing in Playboy. No links. I'm sure you can find it if you want to.

The Governor before Spitzer, George Pataki, still seems to harbor higher office ambitions, and it's like no one's had the heart to tell him that not only do people outside of New York not give a shit about New York politicians (see: "Giuliani, Rudolph" for just the latest example), but that also Pataki has about as much charisma as that third cousin you've met a dozen times but still can't remember his name. Anyway, Pataki who has a reputation for being a moderate is drifting to the right these days. Which is appropriate: his combover too drifts to the right.

My personal favorite former Governor, Mario Cuomo, taught a Fox News reporter how to do his job today, demonstrating a piece of why he's my favorite former Governor. Do yourself a favor and read the exchange. God-DAMN, Mario is a very civil badass. Mario, I hope your son is as awesome as you are. Is he?

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Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Shocking! Simply Shocking! Pass the Chips.

Once (probably more than once, actually) I called New York politics stupid. Another time, I called New York State Senator Martin Espada a Dickhead.

See, when I do that, Google Alerts informs some intern in Martin Espada's office that a ranty blogger with six readers is calling Martin names again. No one really cares.

Today's news, however, is slightly bigger than being named Dickhead by B&E. Someone with actual power (in this case Andrew Cuomo, New York's current Attorney General and, everyone assumes, New York's next governor) is suing Majority Leader Espada for funneling millions of dollars from his health care nonprofit toward his personal expenses. Dinner? The nonprofit will pay for that. Campaign expenses? Let the nonprofit take care of it. Family vacations to Vegas and Florida and Puerto Rico? Yeah, that's what nonprofits are for!

I mean, shit. The suit even alleges that Martin had a severance package ready for triggering that would give him $9 million and bankrupt the nonprofit.

Oh, Martin Espada... When you shut down the New York Senate for your own personal empowerment last year, you were a Dickhead, no doubt. And man, I sure can't wait to be able to call you Shitbird too.

Gosh, you're a loathsome creature.

UPDATE LATER: Please exchange the name Martin for Pedro throughout this post. There's a pretty big difference. Apologies to the poet Martin Espada, who wrote Alabanza. That'll teach me to write when I'm tired.

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Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Out Crazying The Crazy

A while back, I'd wanted to draw my six readers' attention to a creative counter protest in San Francisco in response to perennial protester Fred Phelps. But then time went by, and you know how these things work.

But hey now! It's relevant again! So here I go!

For those who may not remember Fred Phelps and the Phelps Family Singers, they're the "God Hates Fags" people, recently in the news because a dead Marine's father was ordered by a judge to pay the Phelps' family legal costs, because the Marine's father sued the Phelps for protesting at his son's funeral. Bill O'Reilly ended up stepping in on behalf of the Marine's father and paying the legal costs.

This is but one example of the Phelps Horror Show.

Anyway, San Francisco! So you might be surprised to hear that there are some freaks out there. And freaks are funny. So the freaks made some crazy-ass signs to out crazy the Phelps' crazy-ass signs. I'm partial to the one that just says, "ME!" but there are a couple of real gems in there.

Also, you can play around with your own crazy signs here. I made this one:


So how is it suddenly relevant again? Well, a fella called Jason Levin received his inspiration from the wackiness of the sign makers in San Francisco and, in the tradition of the Yes Men, has come up with an idea that's part performance art, part activism, and part sheer lunacy.

The short of it is that Jason hopes to destroy the Tea Party movement by infiltrating and pushing it further away from the mainstream, so that Everyman looks at them and says, "Well, that's too fucking crazy for me."

His people may or may not be the people saying the craziest of the crazy shit you hear coming from the Tea Parties. So if members of the Tea Party start claiming that Obama performs deviant sexual acts, a member of Jason's group might say, "Yeah, and the president also fucks goats!" The best part is that the Tea Party won't know who's legitimately crazy and who's just fucking with them. Maybe a real Tea Bagger thinks that the president fucks goats. Just maybe. Who can tell?

Go, Jason.

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Thursday, April 08, 2010

It's More Like This, Actually

In general, I try to avoid hearing the smug, bitchy voice of Sarah Palin, which doesn't lose any of its shrill in print. (As a quick aside, I also sort of hate using those types of words to describe the voice of a woman in politics since they scream of sexism. But in this case, I just can't think of other words. Her voice hurts my head. Like when Bjork sings.)

You probably heard that President Obama signed a nuclear arms reduction treaty with our Cold War nemesis Russia. And a few days ago, he also changed the U.S. rules of engagement with regard to nuclear warheads.

People on the right say that these things make us weaker. People on the left say that Obama hasn't gone far enough. I tend to agree (surprise, surprise) with the people on the left, but I also get the feeling that nuclear disarmament, more than any other issue Obama has spoken about/acted upon, is the issue of his lifetime. His desire for a nuclear bomb-free world seems utterly sincere to me. In other words, although what he's done so far doesn't go far enough, more than most issues for this president, I trust it's a process, of which this is but one step.

For some on the right, like let's say former half-term governor Sarah Palin, it doesn't matter what Obama does. They'll complain anyway. Hell, Obama could shoot a wolf from a helicopter while signing a law that allows oil drilling in the Arctic Ocean, and Sarah Palin would somehow claim that he's a socialist.

Anyway, about her response to all the anti-nuclear activities of the past few days, Greg Sargent pulled out this quote in his Morning Plum:
It’s kinda like getting out there on a playground, a bunch of kids, getting ready to fight, and one of the kids saying, "Go ahead, punch me in the face and I’m not going to retaliate."
Of course it's not actually like that at all because, you see, the use of nuclear weapons isn't off the table completely, and let's face facts: we have an enormous arsenal of non-nuclear warheads at our disposal that can just as easily destroy things. See "Iraq, Baghdad" for details.

So really it's kinda like getting out there on a playground, a bunch of kids, getting ready to fight, and one of the kids saying, "You punch me in the face, I will take this shotgun, blow a hole in your head, and fuck your skull. How strong does your fist look now, next to my shotgun and cock?"

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Monday, March 22, 2010

I Heard a Rumor About Health Care Reform

Apparently, Congress passed health care reform last night. Republicans announce the end of freedom and liberty, and Democrats celebrate their self-importance and ability to nearly blow it completely.

Okay, so maybe I'm cynical. Yes, this reform is better than nothing, I suppose. Probably. I can talk myself out of that better-than-nothing argument for a while, but then I come back to the 30+ million people currently without health care who will certainly benefit. That's like all the people in the New York City, Los Angeles, and Chicago metropolitan areas. Gosh, that's a lot of people.

Some disappointment was inevitable, I suppose. After all, I believe that anything short of a single-payer system (i.e. Government-paid-for, Medicare For All, or socialized medicine, depending on your preferred language for it) isn't acceptable. Whatever else this bill does, there is still a profit-making entity between patients and the best care possible. That's some bull... shit.

Greg Sargent raises an excellent point with regard to the bending-over-backwards that the administration did to woo Bart Stupak, the anti-abortion zealot who almost derailed the whole thing. His voting bloc stuck together. The progressive caucus, especially the ones who "demanded" a public option, gave in pretty early, leaving Dennis Kucinich out to try as the lone liberal holdout until a couple days ago. Come on, liberals. Look what you might have accomplished simply by sticking together, a la Stupak.

Anyway, to those on the right crying that this is a government takeover of health care, you either need to pay attention or stop lying. This bill doesn't expand Medicare at all. Hell, it doesn't even offer the citizenry the choice to enter into a public plan.

Without a public plan, the only reaching the government is doing is, perhaps, a reach-around, since our elected officials, even the ones who condemn socialized medicine, have socialized medicine.

From what I can tell, the best news to come out of this is that Rush Limbaugh will be leaving the country. Unless that was a lie too. I'd be shocked - SHOCKED! - if Rush were lying. That's so unlike him.

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Monday, March 08, 2010

By Ironic You Mean...

I can't say I'm all that surprised to hear that Governor-for-a-Short-Time Palin used to head across the border to Canada to get her grubby paws on some free health care.

She said in the interview, "I think now, isn't that ironic?"

Um, no. It's not ironic. It's outrageous, perhaps. Hypocritical, obviously. Exploitative, certainly. But nothing about it is ironic.

Jesus Christ.

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Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Then There's the Real Reason

Harold Ford isn't running for the U.S. Senate against Kirsten Gillibrand. He explains why in an op-ed piece in the New York Times, which has already given him a lot of press in recent weeks.

I've said before that I've got little opinion about our appointed Senator Gillibrand. She's moved to the left since being appointed by our Governor (who also isn't running - Jesus, I go out of town for a few days and return to Paterson in full meltdown mode), which I like, but truth be told, I just don't know that much about her.

Other people flirted with running against Kirsten. Carolyn Maloney, who represents me according to just about every online advocacy group even if I've never had the option of voting for her at the actual polls, was considering a primary challenge. I do like Rep. Maloney. She's usually a reliably progressive vote. I would've happily voted for her in a primary to Gillibrand.

Harold Ford lumps himself together with Carolyn Maloney in discussing the enormous pressure he received to not run from the party machine. And the lack of party support is one thing he cites in his op-ed about why he won't run.

What he doesn't mention, of course, is that he began campaigning in earnest before he made the official decision to run. And there's one striking absence from his list of reasons for not getting involved in the race.

New Yorkers, particularly potential Democratic primary voters, think he's an enormous asshole. Assholes have won plenty of elections, so assholery is not an inherent deal breaker. But he came off as an incompetent, petty, utterly uninteresting, non-resident asshole.

If we New Yorkers didn't hate Harold Ford, he'd totally run. And he is lying by omission in his op-ed.

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Thursday, February 18, 2010

That Shit Was Already Expensive

So this New York councilman has been indicted on corruption charges, and one little detail is getting a lot of attention.

Bronx councilman Larry Seabrook apparently doctored a receipt for a bagel and soda, so that instead of the original $7, it cost $177.

I've bought my share of bagels over the years, and I tell you what: I'm just as shocked by the $7 receipt as I am by the $177 doctoring of the receipt.

Even if he got a fancy shmear, that bagel shouldn't have been more than $3 (and indeed should have been closer to $2). And let's assume that he ran up the bill with a two-liter bottle of soda, rather than the 12 oz. can or 20 oz. bottle that most unhealthy people drink. Being really liberal with prices, the whole thing shouldn't have been even $6.

Councilman, you need to find yourself a better bagelry. You're being overcharged.

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She Looks Good

And nothing makes Kirsten Gillibrand look better to me than the continued horseshit coming from Harold Ford. Seriously, that guy is loathsome. Go fuck off, Harold, preferably in a state where you've paid taxes.

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Friday, January 29, 2010

This Is the State of the Union, Bitches

No, I didn't watch the State of the Union address this week. Sure, I would've liked it more than the SOTU addresses of the past decade, but I just couldn't muster up the enthusiasm. Like anyone who follows politics, I've heard a thing or two about the speech - some positive, some negative.

I can tell you this, though... I'm very impressed by this transcript:
It is our duty now to begin to lay the plans and determine the strategy for the winning of a lasting peace and the establishment of an American standard of living higher than ever before known. We cannot be content, no matter how high that general standard of living may be, if some fraction of our people—whether it be one-third or one-fifth or one-tenth—is ill-fed, ill-clothed, ill-housed, and insecure.

This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights—among them the right of free speech, free press, free worship, trial by jury, freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures. They were our rights to life and liberty.

As our nation has grown in size and stature, however—as our industrial economy expanded—these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness.

We have come to a clear realization of the fact that true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. “Necessitous men are not free men.” People who are hungry and out of a job are the stuff of which dictatorships are made.

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.

Among these are:

The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation; The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation;

The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living;

The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad;

The right of every family to a decent home;

The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health;

The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

The right to a good education.

All of these rights spell security. And after this war is won we must be prepared to move forward, in the implementation of these rights, to new goals of human happiness and well-being.

America’s own rightful place in the world depends in large part upon how fully these and similar rights have been carried into practice for our citizens.

Those pretty words belong to Franklin Delano Roosevelt (he's the president in a wheelchair in the musical Annie), who delivered them as part of his State of the Union address in 1944.

It's generally referred to as the Economic Bill of Rights.

When he was campaigning for the presidency, Barack Obama did not seem like just another feckless weenie from the ranks of the Democratic Party. But when he uses his State of the Union address to discuss a spending freeze, well...

BHO is no FDR.

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sure, I Have Thoughts

Since you were wondering, and as long as everyone else is talking about it, I'll share a few thoughts about yesterday's vote in Massachusetts. I know why the Democratic candidate, Martha Coakley, lost to Republican Scott Brown.

The Democrats are feckless weenies. I don't care who you blame for the loss: Coakley, the Massachusetts Democratic Party, the Democratic National Committee, or the White House. Nothing but feckless weeniedom from top to bottom.

Headlines about "Upset of the Century" and "Stunning Defeat" only garner a "Really?" response from me. Who's surprised? What about the Democratic Party in the past 30 years (or more) has demonstrated anything other than a reliable ability to fuck up?

There are books to be written (and probably will be written) about why the Democratic Party has failed. Or is failing. Or continues to fail. Or continually fails. Maybe it's a loss of core values. Maybe it's the shift to the right. Maybe it's the vast quantity of cash taken from business interests. Maybe it's the constant compromise that makes people think the party doesn't actually stand for anything. Maybe it's simple weakness.

Ultimately, though, all of those reasons for its ongoing failure come down to the same thing: the Democrats are feckless weenies.

And if you need further proof of feckless weeniedom, just check out how they're responding to the loss: finger-pointing, steps back, further compromise, and total defeat.

Feckless weenies.

But if you want to cheer up, I was introduced to this blog today. I never know if I'm really late in discovering these things, but it's fun anyway. Oh, and look! The puppy cam is back!

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Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Harold Ford Can Suck It

Like most New Yorkers I don't have much of an opinion of Kirsten Gillibrand, our appointed Senator. But after reading this interview with Harold Ford, who's making strange noises about running against her in the primary, I'm starting to like her a lot more.

Seriously, dude. There are so many things wrong with your pompous answers to these questions, I'm not sure you should hold any job in New York...

You've been to all five boroughs by fucking helicopter?
You're like totally best friends with the Giants owner?
You totally scored a lunch with the Jets owner?
You're buying into a corporate box at Yankee Stadium?
You take a fucking cab to work every day?
Oh, except for most days, when NBC sends a car to get you?
Is there an issue you haven't flipped on since coming to NYC?
And...
You don't shoot children??

Harold, dude... What the fuck is wrong with you?

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Sunday, January 10, 2010

It's Like a Made-for-TV Movie

I tell you what: New York Magazine puts together one helluva yarn.

Some of you may recall that back in 2004, John Kerry ran for president. It was a terrible campaign. Just terrible. The campaign did exactly two things right, in my opinion: 1) they chose an unknown state senator Barack Obama to be the keynote speaker at the Democratic National Convention; and 2) they named John Edwards as Kerry's running mate.

I thought that Edwards was a bit smarmy, truth be told, but I rather appreciated that he was the only candidate who talked at all about poverty. But, you know, this was in 2004, and we didn't really have a poverty problem in this country until Hurricane Katrina. If you don't see it, what's the problem?

We all knew Edwards would return. And I was rather looking forward to his campaign in 2008. Especially since I wasn't the biggest Hillary fan. Edwards was positioning himself to the left of the other viable candidates. So yeah, I had hoped he'd do well. He didn't. By the time New York got its primary vote, he was well off the ballot. And we all know about his downfall since.

But holy shit! The inside story linked above in New York Magazine is riveting stuff. There are some real revelations there. I encourage you to read it. Start to finish, it's a page-turner (or, indeed, a page-click-forwarder). Yes, there's sex; yes, there's ego; yes, there are attempted backroom deals; yes, there's an embattled wife with a chasm between her public and private personae. It's seriously tasty.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

I Think I Have B&E Fatigue

As I'm sure my six regular readers have noticed, I've been a bit off of late. Not only have the posts been fewer and farther between, but they've also been of a much lower quality. I'm aware of it, but I'm not sure why I've got such a lack of inspiration for things B&E related.

But hey! Maybe I'll write a post on B&E about it! Isn't that what bloggers do? Me me me me me me me me me me me me me.

When I kicked this sucker off a few years ago, it was largely because I was absolutely disgusted by Republican rule, and I needed a place to vent. Like so many, I feared that a new administration would stifle my desire to continue the regular posting, but I forged onward, undaunted.

There's been plenty to complain about or comment upon during the still-less-than-one-year that we've had a slightly more palatable president and administration.

I never really drank the Obama Kool-Aid the way so many other lefties did. Don't get me wrong: I supported him and voted for him. I liked the soaring rhetoric and decided that it would be refreshing and amazing to have a leader who could actually fucking inspire.

And of course there was the sheer historical value of the moment.

But I also listened to what he had to say, and I always wanted him to be farther to the left than how he actually portrayed himself. I think a lot of progressives thought he was saying what he needed to say to get elected and that his true colors would be revealed upon getting into office.

I think he was being pretty honest, actually. He always said he'd fight the "good war" in Afghanistan. He never pretended (during the election, anyway) that he was going to totally overhaul health care. He was always a "within the system" sort of guy, who spoke all pretty and let everyone project whatever they wanted onto him.

So I don't feel particularly betrayed or shocked by his thoughtful approach, his determination to compromise, his desire to be overly careful, or his differing opinions in whatever the best policy is for any given scenario.

I also think he's a lot smarter than I am. A lot. But hey, I can disagree with people who could wonk me under the table. I just might lose an argument. Not that I've had a conversation with President Obama.

When I find myself disagreeing with his decisions or being disappointed in his lack of fire or willingness to fight, other (also smarter) people than me do a perfectly fine job of expressing my feelings and thoughts on the matter, before I even have a chance to process something. Nothing takes the wind out of the sails of a rant more than the realization: "Gosh, that smart person really just summed up how I feel."

Back in 2008, when all of the various congressional fundraising committees were inundating me with appeals for my money, they were talking about how awesome it would be to have a SUPERMAJORITY! WE'LL BE ABLE TO DO WHATEVER WE WANT TO DO! IT'LL BE THE BEST WAY TO GET SHIT DONE!

Boy, and how.

And now there's progressive infighting over this health care debacle. Some (like Howard Dean and activist bloggers) say fuck it: kill the bill. It's just too damned destructive now. Others (like policy wonk bloggers such as Nate Silver) say killing the bill would be a Pyrrhic victory: many people would still be helped by this bill, as shitty as it may be and killing the bill hurts many of the people the left purports to be fighting for.

I don't actually know where I stand on this issue. My hunch is to say pass this sucker no matter how crappy it is. And then progressives should never compromise again. "That's it. We did nothing but bend over for you to pass health care. Now you have to come to us for everything else." In other words, pass this fucker and then be the biggest pain in the ass possible to anything that comes close to going against progressive values.

Progressives in the House always get ignored. Progressives in the Senate are pretty much limited to Bernie Sanders and Russ Feingold. What little influence they have should be wielded as brutally as humanly possible. After all, the Democrats need Russ and Bernie just as badly as they need Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson. So fuck 'em.

And that's why I'm not a politician. Politics is nothing but compromise.

Unless you're a Republican. They never fucking compromise about anything. They're playing a different game, it's about ideology over governing, and it's very destructive.

When unified ideology goes head-to-head with weenied fecklessness, the result is very ugly indeed.

So it's been a time of blahs here in B&E country. I feel pretty hopeless about it all. Even though I didn't have the same level of optimism as most Obama supporters when he won the election, my cynicism has still managed to deepen in the past year. If I get any more cynical, it'll be downright nihilistic, and I like the missus too much to wish that upon her.

All this is to say that I don't feel like writing about this shit. It bums me out. I don't see the humor in it (although I still appreciate some of the humor in it when Jon Stewart or Stephen Colbert chew it up and masticate). I don't feel the hope of progress.

And who wants to spend time writing about that kind of crap?

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Off To a Great Start, Dickhead

Hey, remember Rick Santorum? Reach back into the bowels of your brain and you might find him lurking there. "Consensual sex between gay people should be illegal." He's that guy.

Anyway, Rick's trying to prove that he's unpopular on a national level and not just in his home state of Pennsylvania. In other words, he's considering a run for the presidency. Go, Rick!

He's showing his brilliance already. He says that Sarah Palin has some explaining to do.

Yeah, no shit, Rick. That's why people run for president. To explain themselves. You'll have to explain yourself, too, you fucking idiot.

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Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Dickhead of the (Time Frame) - NY State Senate

I've always been proud to live in New York - the gayest city in the gayest state in the gayest country in the gayest world. OK, so maybe we're second to Des Moines.

Either way, like most left-leaning New Yorkers, I find today's vote by the New York State Senate to deny marriage to same-sex couples bass-ackwards and offensive.

The New York State Senate has really been on a roll lately, particularly efficient at accomplishing almost nothing, unless it's destructive. They're like the bastard child of the United States Senate, which is particularly efficient at accomplishing almost nothing, unless it's destructive.

If there are any Queens activists out there who are angry enough to want to put up a challenge in the primary to our Dickhead State Senator George Onorato, I promise you'll get my support.

I never thought that I'd want to be from Staten Island, but I wish this woman was my Senator...

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Tuesday, December 01, 2009

It's World AIDS Day

How did you celebrate World AIDS Day today, B&E readers? Backroom blood transfusions? Unprotected sex? Needle sharing?

Hm... Since so many people still die from complications related to AIDS, perhaps this is a conversation for the "Too Soon" column. Apologies, B&E readers.

So instead of offensive jokes, let's celebrate World AIDS Day in the only appropriate way imaginable...

Let's escalate the war in Afghanistan!

I'm feeling bleak. Are you feeling bleak? Who's feeling bleak? Hello? Is this thing on?

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

I Got So Bored I Can't Even Finish This Headl

Sarah Palin is in the news.

There. I said it.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

An Appropriate 10th Anniversary Celebration?

Well, the Huffington Post reminded me that today is the 10th anniversary of the repeal of Glass-Steagall Act.

You see, during the Great Depression, the government decided it would be a good idea to separate the commercial banks from the riskier investment banks. It protected consumers. Gosh, those New Dealers were so cute in their determination to help people. Silly New Dealers.

But the free marketeers of Reaganomics hated that shit, and the free-marketing Clinton administration repealed it, to much celebration within the Republican Party and, let's face it, the bulk of the Democratic Party, too. Free market good! Regulation baaaaaaad!

So what's the best way to celebrate the government's monstrous sellout of the people ten years ago, the sellout that almost certainly caused the current (monstrous) financial crisis?

Well, I don't know. But it sure as hell makes me want to do what the Swedes do and burn some fucking bunnies for fuel.

(I admit it: I've been looking for an excuse to share that link with you all for weeks.)

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Thursday, October 01, 2009

Feckless Weenies and Tango!

A bunch of things cropped up this week that I let go without comment due to busy-ness. I shall touch on a few of them now, ever so briefly.

I'm sure it'll surprise the small number of readers I have that I'm a fan of Medicare For All or a single-payer health system or whatever term you want to call it when the government actually covers its citizens' health needs, since it's a basic human right and all.

So this whole health debate has been infuriating because what seems most logical to me isn't at all being discussed, and the media only seems to be covering the nutty fringe of lunatics. And by "lunatics," of course, I mean our United States Senators.

Meanwhile, a big deal is being made of this whole "public option," like it's the be-all and end-all of health reform. And although I agree that at this point it's the best we can get, the only reason that's true is because the feckless weenies some call the Democrats started this debate with a compromised position.

So the Senate Finance Committee voted on a couple of versions of the public option this week. One version was "robust," and the other version was the opposite of robust. And both versions didn't pass the committee because they couldn't get enough Democratic support.

And why? Because Democrats are feckless weenies.

Of course, this is just one committee, and four other health plans currently on the table include a public option of some sort. And depending on whom you ask, the Finance Committee vote is either a reason for optimism or a "devastating blow."

Either way, with Democrats likes these, who needs Republicans?

In separate but related news, I got an email from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid this week (not sure how I got on his list). It had the subject heading, "Delay is unacceptable!"

And for once, I couldn't agree more. Did you see Tom DeLay doing the tango on Dancing with the Stars? He almost dropped his partner! Totally unacceptable! (And if you didn't see his cha-cha...)

Alas, Harry wasn't talking about Tom DeLay. No, he's talking about healthcare reform. He puts the blame squarely on the Republicans, who are, to be sure, doing everything they can to kill reform. But you're the freakin' Senate Majority Leader. Get your party in line, buster.

It's only because Democrats are feckless weenies, led by another feckless weenie, if healthcare reform fails.

And it'll only be because Democrats are feckless weenies, led by another feckless weenie, if the 2010 midterm elections are completely disastrous for the Democratic Party.

All I'm saying is that right now Tom DeLay only looks a little sillier than the Democratic members of the United States Senate.

Meanwhile, from the House of Representatives comes Democratic Congressman Alan Grayson of Florida. Earlier this week, he announced before the chamber that the Republican plan for healthcare reform is, "Don't get sick. If you do get sick, die quickly." And OOOOOOOOHHHHH, Republicans are SO OFFENDED!

I actually think what he said is just damned good advice, but what I really like about this fella is that he's not apologizing. And I, for one, greatly appreciate what Greg Sargent says about why lefties such as me like that he's standing firm. It's not that what he said is overly partisan, and we like the partisan shots.

No, indeed, we like that for once we see a Democrat who's not a feckless weenie.

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Vote in today's Primary!

New York's got a primary today, and there are a lot of local candidates to choose from. For a lot of seats (I know it's true for my neighborhood), the primary is the election that matters. So get out there and vote!

I love voting.

You know who I like this year? Jimmy Van Bramer. He's in a three-way race for my city council seat, and I tell you what: he is busting his ass out there. I finally actually saw one of his competitors at my subway stop yesterday, but I've seen Jimmy a few times. He's working hard for this, and I like his determination. He's also got a bunch of really passionate volunteers. I also like that he's worked within the Queens library system, the most used library system in the country.

Go Jimmy! I'm pulling for you!

Other B&E endorsements include Tony Avella for Mayor (over Bill Thompson), Mark Green for Public Advocate (Eric "Where There's a Camera There's a" Gioia didn't quite present the vision I was hoping for), John Liu for Comptroller, and Marc Leavitt for Queens Borough President (another candidate I've actually seen pounding the pavement).

Get out there and vote, B&E readers!

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Monday, September 14, 2009

There's a Lot of Queens to Love

Kanye, Serena, and Representative Joe Wilson all behaved like Dickheads recently, and I went for a long walk in Queens.

It's a great borough. My buddy and I weaved through Western Queens (Sunnyside, Long Island City, Astoria) for what turned out to be about eight miles. Destinations included Court Square Diner (because we needed some diner brunch), Socrates Sculpture Park, Astoria Park, and back home.

In between and after those destinations we just wandered. We wandered by the Keyspan power plant with its giant smoke stacks; we wandered by a curious block of houses that looked like a cross between big homes in Chicago and those odd houses up small hills from the sidewalk in, say, Santa Cruz, California; we wandered through no man's lands, some of which were poor and shitty and others which looked poor and shitty but featured expensive cars on the street; we wandered by the Queensbridge housing project, birthplace of Nas; we wandered along the East River with its views of Roosevelt Island and the Upper East Side; we wandered through Astoria Furniture Mart; we wandered by community garden plots; we wandered through the hipster part of Astoria and down Steinway Street... Oh, we wandered, B&E readers. You bet your sweet bippy we wandered.

Queens is a fine borough for living. Yes, indeed. So stop overselling me, Brooklynites. I live in Queens.

Oh, and look! Getting beaten by your husband is a pre-existing condition! Yeah, so health care status quo sounds like a pretty fucking good idea! The Republicans are the party of torture and wife-beating! Way to go!

And a very happy fucking Monday to you.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

The Condescension of Soundbites

Some of you may have heard that the President gave a speech to Congress and that a major Dickhead shouted, "You LIE!" in the middle of it. Yeah, I heard that, too.

But I didn't see it because I was at a play that people in the New York City area should go see. It's called Aftermath by Jessica Blank and Erik Jensen, and it's running at the New York Theater Workshop. [Full disclosure (as if I have enough readers to warrant "full disclosure"): I know the playwrights.]

Aftermath features the stories of Iraqi refugees living in Jordan - and what happened to them after the United States invaded. Jessica and Erik traveled there, and interviewed about 35 refugees, and selected seven people on which to focus. So the words are theirs (translated into English, usually).

What's nice about the play is that the characters aren't ideologues, and the authors' own politics (about as left-leaning as I am), at least where the Iraq War is concerned, were complicated by the experience of the interviews. This is a messy war that had many complex issues surrounding the lead-up and aftermath.

Nothing is ever as simple as either side wants it, is it? And when we make it simple we do a real disservice to the discourse, not to mention the handling of something as important as, say, a war.

Anyway, there was a discussion after the performance I saw, and at one point it actually got a little contentious. A guy whose politics I would say I probably agree with said, "It's time for the Iraqi people to stand up and take charge of their own country."

This is a sentiment I've heard quite a lot. Many people on the left say that as rationale for getting our troops home. It's especially used amongst Democratic Party members. It must have been tested in a focus group at some point.

And sure, I guess I agree with that. But when this fella said it, he was speaking to an Iraqi. And it sounded condescending. The fact is we invaded a country that was fucked up, and we fucked it up in an entirely new way. Surely, we have some responsibility for that. Isn't it our duty to support the Iraqis as they "stand up and take charge of their own country"?

Of course, even as I type that last paragraph, I find myself horrified by how it sounds like an argument for an open-ended commitment to be occupiers, and that freaks me out.

So even in my simplified thinking of these complex issues, it gets really complicated, and there are nuances and cultural challenges I know absolutely nothing about.

I guess all I'm really saying is that all major issues are exceedingly complex, and the older I get, the less tolerance I have for the soundbites.

And hell, man, soundbites are essentially what I do for a living. I boil down, I distill, I simplify. As I think about it, I realize maybe that's why I get so irritated by the soundbites. Maybe it's not so much that the soundbites simplify. Maybe it's how they get simplified.

Simplifying to help people understand is one thing. Simplifying to win an argument is something altogether different. And both sides do it.

Naturally I think the right-wing does it a lot more dishonestly and destructively. But I certainly felt the same yucky feeling as that left-leaning dude shouted down the Iraqi with his over-simplified regurgitation of a Democratic Party talking point.

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

The President Should Stop Doing Stuff

It was totally wrong for President Barack Hussein Obama to make a speech to our nation's school children, encouraging them to stay in school. If I want my kid to be home-schooled or better yet to drop out, it's totally my choice, and President Obama can't make me keep my kid in school! What does he think this is? Nazi Germany? Today in France?

And as long as I'm airing grievances about President Barack Hussein Obama, here are a few other things he shouldn't be doing, have done, or plan to do...

1) Be born in Hawaii. It's downright anti-American.

2) Brush his teeth. We've already got a war on terror; we don't need a war on tooth decay.

3) Play basketball. Swagger much, you cocky motherfucker?

4) Make speeches of any sort. The executive branch is about secrecy; loose lips sink ships, you idiot.

5) Travel. This is America; we don't need a leader influenced by other countries. Countries like Europe or Havana or Hawaii.

6) Wear suits. Oh, you look SO good!

7) Take vacations. You should always be working. Go to a ranch and clear some fucking brush.

8) Have a family. A hot wife and cute daughters play to our basest instincts. Shame on you.

9) Smile. What the fuck do you have to be happy about?

10) Eat dinner. There are hungry people around the country and world, and when you eat - especially food from your precious organic garden - you're really just showing off. Snack on your massive ego instead.

Yes, I could go on. But President Barack Hussein Obama, I think you get my point.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Choice

Don't worry, B&E readers. I'm not about to write about abortion, not that I feel the need to avoid the subject or anything. But no, I'm talking about the concept of choice.

Twice in the past few days I've heard clips of President Obama speaking, and on two separate subjects he talked about how something wasn't a choice but a necessity.

The first time I heard this, he was discussing the war in Afghanistan. "Remember, this was not a war of choice, but a war of necessity." (I'm paraphrasing quotes from memory.)

The second time had to do with the economic meltdown. I can't remember the specific context because I wasn't really paying attention until I heard the phrase, "We had to take the steps we did. It was not a choice but a necessity." I think he was speaking in response to how the deficit is worse than originally projected.

Jack Bauer, in the TV show 24, during particularly intense moments, especially if he's arguing with someone who doesn't want to be as ruthless as Jack does, will often growl, "You don't have a choice!"

I hate this. There's always a choice. Maybe you don't much care for the options you have, but yes, there's always a choice. You can choose to do nothing. You can choose to take action. You can choose from a variety of actions.

Even something as simple as eating... Eating is, I'm sure we would all agree, a necessity. But I still have a choice about whether or not I'm going to eat. If I don't, I'll die, so I choose to fucking eat.

Necessity is a point of view. What you deem necessary informs your choices. But regardless, it's a goddamned choice. Bailing out the banks is a choice. Creating a stimulus package is a choice. Going after al-Qaeda, bin Laden, and the Taliban is a choice. Continuing to fight in Afghanistan is another choice.

All of those actions take difficult choices. I can accept that. I don't even disagree with all of the choices you made above, Mr. President. But don't tell me you didn't have a choice at all.

There's always a choice.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Ouchie Wouchie

Big news today. Senator Ted Kennedy died. So I'm going to say a few words about the Mets.

When the Mets began the 2009 season, this was their opening day lineup:

Jose Reyes, SS
Daniel Murphy, LF
David Wright, 3B
Carlos Delgado, 1B
Carlos Beltran, CF
Ryan Church, RF
Brian Schneider, C
Luis Castillo, 2B
Johan Santana, P

In last night's game, the starting lineup looked like this:

Angel Pagan, CF
Luis Castillo, 2B
Gary Sheffield, LF
Jeff Francoeur, RF
Fernando Tatis, 3B
Daniel Murphy, 1B
Omir Santos, C
Anderson Hernandez, SS
Nelson Figueroa, P

Two players from that original lineup continue to play: Daniel Murphy (who's been switched to first base) and Luis Castillo (the only player still in his original position). If I'd have predicted someone who would be out for the season at this point, I would've picked Luis Castillo. Go figure.

Church was traded. Schneider platoons with Santos. Reyes, Wright, Delgado, Beltran, and Santana are all on the disabled list. That's one disabled list for five all-star players.

Johan Santana is just the latest to join the injured crew. Since the season is a bust anyway, he's having bone spurs removed from his elbow now, so that he's got plenty of time to recover for next season.

See? Everyone related to the Mets - management, players, and fans - have moved onto next year.

Even the players who play every day now are mostly auditioning or practicing for next year. Murphy is honing his skills at first. Sheffield is hoping to prove himself indispensable enough to warrant a new contract. Francoeur, if he gets a new contract, will be an everyday player. Pagan is hoping to be an everyday man next year as well. Tatis is... well, he's probably hoping to be a bench man again next year. Santos has been a bright spot this year and could well take over as starting catcher for Schneider. Anderson Hernandez should be the starting second baseman instead of Luis Castillo, if he could just learn to hit. I've called him Batman on B&E in the past because of his amazing fielding. He made the single greatest catch I've ever seen in person.

What's my point? I'm sad about Ted, about health care reform, about our criminal justice system, about the feckless Democratic Party, about the destructive Republican Party, about my friend who passed away, and about so much more...

And I can't even fucking turn to baseball. Fuck me, B&E readers. Fuck. Me.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

The Controversy of Compassion

A very interesting and controversial thing happened in Scotland last week.

Kenny MacAskill, Scotland's Justice Minister, released, on grounds of compassion, the convicted bomber of the PanAm flight that blew up over Lockerbie in 1988, killing 270 people. The convicted bomber, Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, has prostrate cancer and, according to British doctors, has about three months to live.

A portion of MacAskill's statement and a pretty hard-hitting BBC interview can be found here. I urge you to watch both videos. It's a glimpse at justice in terms we don't usually hear in this country.

So... Uh, yes... Release of a convicted terrorist on compassionate grounds is, well, pretty ballsy.

And when al-Megrahi returned to a very public hero's welcome in Libya, people already angry about his release got even angrier. Even people in support of his release - and indeed MacAskill himself - were pretty angry about that display.

In our country, i.e. the United States, we don't have the element of compassion as part of our justice system. We have a "fuck 'em" attitude toward our prison population, embodied most clearly and cynically in the death penalty. In Scotland, however, compassion is a requisite part of the justice system.

President Obama denounced the decision, and FBI director Robert Mueller accused the Scottish government of giving comfort to terrorists.

So it's no surprise that there's a movement in the U.S. to boycott Scotland. Don't visit. Don't take advantage of its legendary golf courses. Don't drink its fine whisky. As someone who enjoys Scotland, its beauty, its food, its drink, and its women (or at least one particular woman), I think that taking this sort of action is really only punishing the people who participate in the boycott.

My heart goes out and always will go out to the victims of the bombing of PanAm Flight 103. It's incredibly painful to lose someone anyway, and losing someone through an act of violence, terrorism, or other means in which someone else can be fairly blamed must cause tremendous anger. Assuming justice was done and that al-Megrahi did indeed blow up Flight 103, I will never defend his horrific act of murder.

But by releasing al-Megrahi so that he can die with his family at home, MacAskill has said something about our humanity that you don't hear very often. We can rise above people who do us harm. We can recognize that people who commit horrific acts are still human, if not humane. We can value something larger than punishment and firmly grasp the moral high ground.

As the missus asked rhetorically and succinctly over the weekend, "Why is compassion controversial?"

I expect that the missus and I are in a small minority of people in this country who think the Scottish Justice Minister performed a beautiful, profoundly spiritual act of humanity.

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Sunday, August 09, 2009

I'm Paying a Lot for Health Insurance, but I'm Not Buying Your Shit

Perhaps you've heard that there's a debate about health care reform going on. I mean, technically, it's not really a debate. There's a proposal on the table, and a well-funded, very loud opposition is saying no.

Earlier this week, I got an email from President Bill Clinton (which gosh, I guess he wrote in his free time in between making all of his plans for travel to North Korea). The subject heading of this email was "1993." Clever. You see, his (and Hillary's) health plan was killed in 1993. The goal of Bubba's email was to raise money for the DCCC (Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee).

His email includes this line: "...Republicans are waging a fierce assault on President Obama's health care initiative." OK, that's accurate, as far as it goes.

I really hate partisan politics. Especially bullshit partisan politics. There are Democrats who are weakening or attempting to kill health care reform. And they're in Congress. So my money might go to support those assholes, too.

Of course the Republican Party is standing firm against health care reform. Why would anyone expect differently? I don't know why the Democrats are even attempting compromises if the Pubes won't support the bill anyway. Fuck 'em.

And this is just one reason I think the Democrats are a bunch of feckless weenies. In theory, they've got a "super majority" and can pass the Best Health Care Reform Ever. But they won't. Because they're Democrats.

So Bill, I'm thrilled that you saved those journalists from hard labor in North Korea, but I'm afraid that Republicans aren't the only obstacles to passing real health care reform. I won't be making a donation at this time. I tend to not make donations to feckless weenies.

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Saturday, August 01, 2009

Oh, My Aching Back

I've largely stayed clear of commenting on the current health care debate for a couple of reasons: 1) The bill changes too rapidly to keep up, and I would go crazy tracking the details; 2) I'm a believer in a single-payer system, which has never been taken seriously as a solution by our corporate-owned political parties.

In other words, ideologically, I support reform. Real reform. Not bullshit reform. If whatever plan they end up passing (or not) doesn't include a robust (and I mean fucking robust) public option, it's bullshit reform.

This week, my ideological support for reform turned practical. I have what is generally considered to be "good insurance." My employer contributes toward my insurance costs (job perk!), but (especially since my wife is also covered) I pay for the majority of it myself (taken out pre-tax! Thanks, Republicans or Clinton (I assume)!)

It's got relatively low deductibles, the co-pay to see my primary doctor (whom I like quite a bit) is not outrageous, and I'm covered (I think) should something terrible happen, such as a stabbing on the subway or a massive coronary.

When I yanked my lower back last weekend, I went to see a chiropractor, also known by my insurance company as a "specialist." Well, the co-pay for a specialist is a hell of a lot higher than my co-pay for my "primary care physician." If you have to see a specialist once, say, to get a mole removed (as I have before), it's no big deal.

But when you need to see a "specialist" with some regularity... Dude, the shit adds up. I mentioned having some concern about being able to shell out this kind of money, and the chiropractor said, "Ah, I see you have [evil insurance company]. Your co-pay pretty much covers the cost of the session. We get another four or five bucks from them for you."

So I put in my several hundred dollars a freakin' month, and when I really hurt myself, [evil insurance company] covers four or five bucks. [Evil insurance company] is making a shitload of money off of me and the missus. I'd like to meet the person who gets my insurance contribution as a bonus. And I'd like to poke them in the fucking eye.

This, B&E readers, is the way things are with "good insurance." People opposed to single-payer or health reform are afraid that the government will stand between them and their doctors.

Well, people... Perhaps you haven't had the experience yet, but insurance companies stand between you and your doctor. And their motive is profit.

It is not the government's job to protect the market for health insurance. But so far, I have yet to see them do anything else.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hey, I've Missed That Guy

Like most people on the left-leaning side of the world, I've got mixed reviews of the still relatively new president thus far. Many things I like; many things I wish he'd do differently.

One of the things I wish he'd do differently is go back to that powerful speechifying of the campaign. It'd be nice to have a president that inspires, not just a presidential candidate.

Well, I'm a few days late on this, but he gave me a taste of that action last Thursday in a speech to the NAACP, in which he honored their 100th anniversary.

Watch it. And watch it to the end. It's a tone he hasn't struck in a while, and it's a tone I'd love to hear him strike on the health care debate. And anything else really.

Pretty speeches matter; words matter; inspirational communication matters. Yes, back it up with action, but you're the president... Inspire us; move us; kick some ass.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Ease Up, Dude

It seems like almost every day I'm getting yet another flyer in my mailbox from Mayor Mike Bloomberg, asking for my vote for his reelection.

I'll back up just a little bit for any non-New York readers. New York City has term limits. The people of New York voted twice in favor of limiting time in office to two terms. I've got mixed feelings about term limits, and honestly I don't remember which way I ended up voting on the issue. But the people of New York have spoken. Twice.

Earlier this year (maybe it was even last fall), Bloomberg wheeled and dealed and convinced the City Council to extend term limits. Everyone who would've had to leave office can now serve another term. Including Mayor Mike.

So Mayor Mike is running like hell for mayor. The #17 on the Forbes' richest people list is putting some of his personal fortune into his campaign, just like he always has. It is formidable wealth.

His ads are everywhere - on TV, online, in print. The direct mail pieces arrive regularly.

Bloomberg has been a pretty popular mayor, although there's the whiff of discontent among the masses for the first time. Now, months after the fact, people seem to be like, "He can just buy a third term like that?"

And here's where the problem lies: Most New Yorkers probably can't name his opponent. I can (it's Bill Thompson), but I can't tell you much about poor Bill, except that every time I've seen him on the news, he's attacking Mayor Mike. He has no personal fortune, and I suspect he's hoping that his attacks will get him free publicity at least.

I've never been the biggest Mayor Mike fan. I've written here in the past about how there are things I admire about him (his long-term vision for a green New York) and things I don't (his massive donations to Bush's reelection and "business first" attitude). But I've never voted for him (although I considered it last time, being severely underwhelmed by Jose Ferrer).

I won't vote for him this time either. And no amount of advertising will convince me otherwise. A friend told me that he wishes Bloomberg would save his money because he's voting for him anyway. So no amount of advertising will convince him either.

And, in fact, that same friend said that the more mail he gets from Mayor Mike the less likely he is to vote for him.

The Mayor is also quite the philanthropist. Few people give more money to charity than Mayor Mike. That's a much better way to spend your fortune, Mr. Mayor. And for someone so pursuant of a "green" city, all this paper and printing is really off-message.

This argument that Mayor Mike's not paid for by special interests or beholden to a party. OK, that's true, sort of. But the guy is a freakin' billionaire. He is his own special interest.

I just can't vote for a one-man special interest. But I suspect we're stuck with him for another three years. We find out in less than five months.

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Friday, July 10, 2009

Dickhead Rewarded

The stupid stupidheads that call themselves the New York State Senate have finally resolved their stupid stupidness.

The winner is... Dickhead Martin Espada!

Espada and Hiram Monserrate were the original defectors, with Monserrate almost immediately returning back to the Democrats to create the stalemate. Thirty-one days later, the Democrats reclaim power, with Espada also returning to the Democrats.

And imagine that! All it took was to name Pedro Espada the Majority Leader. So as long as we're without a Lieutenant Governor, this guy is second in line to be Governor!

On NY1 this morning, they were showing a clip of the actual transfer of power from previous Majority Leader Malcolm Smith to Espada. Smith introduced the new leader, and while the many stupid senators applaud, Espada stands, buttons up his sharp suit jacket, and has the single smuggest, most self-satisfied look I've ever seen on a face.

NY1 then followed that clip with a clip from the news conference announcing his return to the Democrats, during which Espada said something like, "It's never been about power; it's been about empowerment."

His own personal empowerment, apparently. This guy is truly loathsome.

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Monday, July 06, 2009

It Was Over Before Screech Could Yell, "Moo Goo Gai Pan."

As Curt (Bald Bro), if that is indeed his name, points out in the comments of a previous posting, you really do need to have a sense of humor if you're going to pay attention to the New York Senate these days.

Over the holiday weekend, Governor Paterson called for special sessions, so that the little bitches who call themselves New York Senators can work out a goddamn deal and begin to take care of the people's business again. Sunday's session lasted three minutes. Three fucking minutes. Let's see... What else can you do in three minutes?

- Transfer at Grand Central from the 7 train to the 4/5 train.
- Listen to "More" by The Sundays.
- Let your French press steep (if you're the missus - I prefer the full five).
- Get rid of the Jehovah's Witnesses at your door.
- Enjoy a nice daydream.
- Read this post (even if you read slowly).
- Have sex to completion (if you're an anxious teenager who suffers from premature ejaculation).

All of those things are far more productive, useful, and successful than our New York Senate.

Not that I usually condone fishing for comments, but feel free to tell me what you can do in three minutes, thereby making you more productive than the New York Senate.

[Oh, and you all have my lesbian ex-girlfriend to thank for the title, as she posted a link to this "Celebrity Shtup" from Heeb Magazine. Please be forewarned: It is not for the faint of heart. Or children. Or mothers. At least not my mother. Mother, please don't read it. Although it too will take you less than three minutes.]

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Sunday, July 05, 2009

She's a Genius! She's an Idiot! She's a...

I feel like I'd be a little remiss if I didn't say anything about Sarah Palin and her sudden resignation.

There. I said it. Now I hope she'll go away.

And fortunately for me, I keep my expectations lower than my hopes.

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Friday, July 03, 2009

Good Grief, Harry

I think I picked up this link from Huffington Post, but this little tidbit from yesterday really pushed my buttons (and not in a good way).

With Al Franken's seating in the Senate, the Democratic Party has 60 seats, that magical "filibuster-proof" majority. During last year's election, this is what the Democratic Party was fundraising on: With a filibuster-proof majority we will be able to move the Obama agenda forward without obstacle.

Now that they've got those 60 seats, of course, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid is tempering expectations, talking about how they're all individuals with diverse political ideas and philosophies.

Meanwhile, RNC leader/kook Michael Steele (and other Republican leaders) are now saying, "Well, that's it. The government is yours now. You own whatever happens." Obviously, they are assuming that what happens will either be nothing or failure or both.

The point that Greg Sargent (a former blogger for Talking Points Memo) makes is, "Own it, Democrats. Anything you accomplish belongs to you." And fair enough.

But I think Greg is forgetting that they're Democrats. It's probably been 35 years or so since the Democratic Party hasn't been a bunch of feckless weenies. I predict that very little will be accomplished, even with this giant majority.

And Harry's already shown us part, if not most, of the problem. The Democratic leadership refuses to be bold.

Go out there and inspire some Hope. Make some Change, dammit. You're the fucking Senate Majority Leader. Sure, acknowledge that it'll be hard work. But for Christ's sake, you talk like a fucking loser.

The Democrats are led by Charlie Brown. And I think we all remember how good his baseball team was.

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Thursday, July 02, 2009

Give Me Choice, or... God Knows I'll Live With It

When Hillary Clinton was named Secretary of State, we had an open Senate seat here in New York. The people of New York had been feeling pretty good about our new-ish Governor Paterson up until this point, but many of us were turned off by how he handled naming her successor.

We ended up with Kirsten Gillibrand, a Congresswoman from upstate, who had the reputation being relatively conservative. I still don't know much about her, except that she's shifted a little to the left in some of her positions since becoming Senator from a state that trends a little more liberal than her district in Congress.

Still, she was appointed not elected, and those of us who are fans of democracy bristle at this simple fact.

Because law requires Gillibrand to run for election in the next cycle (in this case 2010), a few New York politicos were considering a run against her in the primary. But the White House talked all of them out of it.

Except Carolyn Maloney. And the Democratic Party machine isn't terribly happy with her.

Long-time readers might recall that I've had some questions about who actually represents my apartment in Congress. I've only ever voted for Joseph Crowley, but I get mail from Carolyn Maloney, and most Political Action Committees seem to think that my zip code+4 puts me in her district.

Maloney is a pretty reliable liberal. I'm a fan. I still know very little about Kirsten Gillibrand.

But if not for the New York State law giving the authority to fill an empty seat to the governor instead of the people, we'd have had a robust Democratic primary to fill Hillary's seat. I want a robust primary.

It's a democracy, man. Run, Maloney! Run!

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Re: Governor Mark Sanford

At least now we know why the good governor felt he didn't need any stimulus money.

Zang! Zzp-POW! Wocka-wocka-wocka!

Ah, nuts. I'm telling this joke about 36 hours too late.

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Our Stupid Senate

I kinda want to just ignore these stupid New York Senators, but they're behaving so stupidly that I need to call them stupid.

Governor Paterson is making them come into the stupid chamber by calling special (and stupid) sessions, which require their stupid presence.

Yesterday, the stupid Democratic Senators sneaked through a back door and locked themselves in the chamber. They weren't even stupidly creating a stupid metaphor to vote on the gay marriage bill. The stupid Republican Senators couldn't get in for a while, and once they did, the stupid parties held dueling sessions, neither of which weren't stupid.

So then today, the stupids stupided the stupidheads and stupidly stupided the stupids. As if that weren't stupid enough, they stupided the stupid stupids. And before long, stupid was as stupid does, and the stupids left the stupid, having stupidly stupided stupid. All for the sake of stupid.

Fucking stupid.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Why I'm Up at Stupid O'Clock

This morning, around 4:30 AM, in my half-asleep stupor while lying in bed, my mind started racing.

I was thinking about how Democrats have been saying for years now that if they just had control of the White House, the Senate, and the House of Representatives, they could pass real reform.

I was thinking about how maybe their idea of reform is different than mine.

I was thinking about how our country can't seem to stop fighting wars, even though the US Congress hasn't seemed to actually declare any wars.

I was thinking about how the US Congress is probably the least relevant branch of government, and it's no one's fault but the US Congress's.

I was thinking about how Mayor Michael Bloomberg is spending a gazillion dollars of his own money on his re-election, which only makes me want to vote for him less.

I was thinking about how few New Yorkers even know who's running against Mayor Mike. (It's City Comptroller Bill Thompson, not that anyone cares either.)

I was thinking about how not only has money from the health industry corrupted the debate on health care, but also how the personal investments our Senators and Representatives have in insurance and pharmaceuticals will make any real changes to the current system impossible, since they've got careers and personal fortunes on the line.

I was thinking about what an asshole Tom Daschle is for recommending to President Obama that he take a public health care option off the table when three-quarters of Americans support a public health care option.

I was thinking about what a relief it is that Tom Daschle isn't Secretary for Health and Human Services.

I was thinking about how the man who's probably more responsible for saving the Democratic Party than anyone, Governor-Doctor Howard Dean, has been marginalized by the party he put back in power.

I was thinking about how the New York Mets haven't lived up to their potential since 2000.

I was thinking about how I still don't really understand what exactly is going on in Iran.

I was thinking about how I really need to buy some pants that fit me.

I was thinking about how little money we have right now for me to invest in pants.

I was thinking about how I should really just get up and make myself some goddamned coffee, because now that I'm thinking about all these things, I'm not going back to sleep.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I Think We Need That Dog Whisperer

We still don't have a functional Senate in New York (we don't have one in the federal government either, but for totally different reasons - zang! zzp-POW! wocka-wocka-wocka!) because a judge refused to a) condone the Republican takeover, or b) reject the Republican takeover.

Instead, he was all, "Yo, jackasses. Go across the fucking street, stop being little bitches, and work this shit out."

While I can understand the sentiment (and perhaps if I had any knowledge of the law I could also understand the legal argument), I'm not sure that the Honorable Thomas J. McNamara quite understands what we're dealing with here. This is, after all, the most corrupt bunch of power hungry fucking idiots this world has ever seen.

Or perhaps the judge understands completely and realizes that getting in the middle of the wrestling match with this bunch of clowns will only end with His Honor getting a massive a pie in the face. (Thanks again to Titivil for inspiring the clown imagery w/r/t our State Senate.)

Either way, New York still has no Senate. The Republicans show up in the chamber with their 31 seats, one seat shy of a quorum, i.e. no business can get done. The Democrats stay home with their 31 seats, celebrating individual quorums in their living rooms while watching reruns of The King of Queens and wonder how it is that Kevin James keeps getting himself into such wacky pickles. (Is that what happens on that show? I can't say I've ever seen an entire episode.)

And yet, life goes on as normal for the rest of us in NYC. I realize of course that eventually no Senate will have real repercussions (City budgets won't get approved, Bloomberg can't be named school czar, gays can't continue to be considered second-class citizens).

But for now, to put into new words a sentiment my dad used to express quite often, these utter Dickheads totally deserve each other.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Left and Right and... Left?

When one looks at the radical left wing to find dangerous criminals or terrorists, only one name really comes up with any regularity: Bill Ayers. His name only comes up because he's met President Obama.

Bill was a member of the Weather Underground. The Weather Underground killed exactly three people. Those people were all members of the Weather Underground who died in an explosion by a bomb in their possession. All Weather Underground attacks were done to property during non-business hours, usually with the warning that they were coming.

My point is that the radical left doesn't seem to kill people.

The radical right seems a little less queasy about murder. Timothy McVeigh blew up the Oklahoma City building in 1995 just after 9:00 AM, when people were there. Violence against abortion providers has killed a couple of handfuls of people (the most recent, of course, being George Tiller, the doctor in Kansas). And James von Brunn (allegedly) opened fire in the Holocaust museum.

Then you get dangerous Dickheads like Randall Terry (formerly of Operation Rescue) excusing the violence against abortion providers, while doing everything he can to separate himself from the von Brunn type of violence. Well, Mr. Terry, you're both part of a right-wing movement.

Unless you believe the right-wing media, which seems hell-bent on getting von Brunn lumped along with the left-wing radicals, and (also found via TPM)... lesbians?

Sorry, dudes, but neo-Nazi philosophies - whether coming from politicians, nutjobs, or murderers - are right-wing ideas. Von Brunn is yours.

So, yeah... Nice work bad-mouthing that report from the Department of Homeland Security that discussed the danger of right-wing violence a few weeks back.

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Our Local Politics is Dumber Than Yours

On Monday, a couple of Democrats in the New York State Senate defected (somehow without switching parties), giving the Republicans control of the chamber once again.

I tend not to follow our state politics terribly closely because, every time I do, I start breaking out in hives. Everything is shrouded in secrecy, and things only get done through back-room deals. People have been wondering for a while what ever happened to the mob. I think they're in the New York State Senate and Assembly.

Who were the Democrats that defected? Pedro Espada from the Bronx is being investigated for ethics violations. Hiram Monserrate from Queens is under indictment for cutting his girlfriend's face with a cocktail glass.

My hunch is that some snappy descriptor like those could be used to describe just about everyone in Albany's government.

So the whole thing is silly. Very silly. It's almost like nothing of any significance is happening in New York. Of course, nothing of significance seemed to be getting done before either. Still. It's all very silly.

Which is why I like this particular coverage of events over at Titivil. Thank you, good sir.

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Monday, June 08, 2009

In Case You Think I Haven't Noticed

B&E has taken a turn away from the political in recent weeks. Part of it is the simple difference it makes to have an administration that isn't a complete embarrassment.

Another part is that I'm spending less of my creative energy writing on B&E, and it's a lot easier to show photos of Scotland than get all thinky about politics, especially when participating in that activity leaves me with little hope for the future of, well, everything.

Anyway, I just want there to be a record on B&E about one very specific thorn in my political side...

The mechanical parts that take up the space where Dick Cheney's heart used to be obviously run on bile.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Required Posting

In the last couple of days I was really hoping to write a little bit about Xe, the mercenary army formerly known as Blackwater. That's pronounced "zee." They retooled their website, and amazingly enough, the "history" section says nothing about the founder or the former name. Yea, rebranding!

But Xe's already getting its own bad name (just like the bad name you gave love, according to Bon Jovi). Four Xe contractors opened fire on a civilian vehicle, wounding two Afghans. That might be a problem in and of itself, but the contractors were also off-duty, drunk, and not allowed to be carrying weapons at the time.

[Web redesign story via TPM, and Xe mercenary shootings via HuffPo.]

Anyway, this is that posting I put up on B&E at least once (and sometimes twice) a year, in which I give you advance warning of an absence. I didn't take the time to line up any prearranged postings or anything, and unless my day today goes a lot differently than I imagine it will, I won't.

Yes, that's right: I'm going to be out of town, and although I'll probably have some semi-regular internet connection, come on people, it's a freakin' vacation. I'm vacating, for crying out loud.

Oh, and burglars? We have a really large person house-sitting for us, so don't get any ideas. We've given the large person permission to check our mail and kick your fucking ass. He's from Xe, the mercenary outfit formerly known as Blackwater.

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Wednesday, May 06, 2009

That Hump is a Burger

It's Wednesday, or Hump Day as the kids like to call it, which can only mean one thing, B&E readers! It's Burger Day!

(That's right, it's the only thing Wednesday can mean.)

My Wednesday is thus far meatless, but my media is carnivorous as ever. I'm not talking about the "red meat" of attacking one's political opponents, although that's surely happening somewhere, too. No, indeed, I'm talking about actual red meat in the media.

First of all, this fine feature in the New York Times, which some of you may have heard of. Click on a burger to see a bit of info about it and hear a little audio review. Donovan's Pub (home of the #2 ranked burger on this list) is just up the road from my apartment in Queens, and I can vouch for that particular burger's tastiness. The missus calls it greasy; I call it juicy. Tomato, tomato. Hm... That comparison doesn't work at all in writing.

Looks like our President also appreciates a burger, and when he and Vice President Biden had a hankering, they headed over to the strip mall home of Ray's Hell Burger in DC.

If you watch the video, you may catch that President Obama orders his burger medium-well. What the hell is that all about? I grew up in the red meat belt, and you just don't order a burger medium-well. Medium is OK; medium-rare is better. If the beef's really good, take it rare. It's gotta be at least a little pink. This is one time when pink doesn't equal gay.

(Speaking of gay, shout-out to Maine!)

Anyway, medium-well... That's not beef I can believe in, Mr. President.

With my share of complaints (of course), I'm much more in sync with the views and positions of this President over the last one, certainly. But this really takes the cake. Medium-well? Oh, Mr. President, how could you?

You might as well order a hockey puck on a roll and call yourself Canadian.

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Monday, May 04, 2009

Things Are Different in Europe, But...

People are complex and multidimensional. Relationships between complex, multidimensional individuals can be messy. And there are certain cultural mores in Europe that seem surprising to our Puritanical American sensibility (some of you may remember Francois Mitterand's wife and mistress mourning together over his grave in France).

Still, even with all of these things in mind, I suspect that Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi is a gaping asshole.

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

My Morning Boehner

Ever since John Boehner was elected House Republican Leader in 2006, I've been having a good adolescent chuckle at his name. A couple of examples from other B&E entries:

John "Crap, I'm Losing My" Boehner
John "Lobbyist-Paid Travel Gives Me A" Boehner


Heh. I'm twelve.

The Perfesser (if that is indeed his name) responded once with his own set of Boehner jokes, which I reproduce in its entirety here:
It's up to Boehner to erect a new standard for the Republicans - a flagpole, if you will. Boehner must stiffen the base's resolve; Boehner cannot have the flaccid support of a bunch of sad sacks. Boehner needs action now without DeLay.

Boehner must penetrate deep inside the dark mysteries of Congress. It's all up to Boehner.

Boehner should be out in the open for everyone to see. Few Americans, in this conservative climate, want to have a Boehner sneaking up on them from behind.

I'm glad to see so many Republicans proud of their Boehner. I hope this Boehner is around for a long time.
Oh, man, it just doesn't get old.

More recently, Boehner came (heh) out strong against the stimulus (heh) package (heh) because it included funding for contraception (heh).

I think Politico might be equally excited (heh) by Boehner's name, because they were responsible for an article about how turned off (heh) Boehner was by Obama's package (heh), which made me giggle back in January.

And Politico is back at it again with an article yesterday called, Boehner Slams Obama.

Seriously, this is getting nuts (heh)!

A colleague at work found this article yesterday before I did. He was like, "Really? Slams? Boehner??" I said something about how Boehner's nickname in the House was "Semi" before he discovered Cialis, an admittedly lazy and predictable joke. My colleague's response:

"If your filibuster lasts more than four hours..."

Zang! Zzp-POW! Wocka-wocka-wocka!

Yes, that's right. This is how I acknowledge the first 100 days of the Obama presidency: dick jokes!

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Something Good Has Come of All This (So To Speak!)

So it's tax day, and in response, some right-wing nuts threw a bunch of "tea parties." As I've mentioned before, fortunately these nuts have embraced the term teabagging.

The protests are stupid, but at least now everyone on the planet will know what teabagging is. I mean, once David Gergen gets the reference, surely we've reached some sort of teabagging tipping point.

B&E is very pro-sex education.

On a separate but related note, earlier I scrolled through a few dozen photos of various teabagging events around the country, and I'm sure you'll be surprised to hear that I didn't see a single non-white person among the teabaggers. Boy, we whiteys sure are a privileged bunch of tax-haters.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Follow Up From a Busy Week

It was another one of those weeks, B&E readers, when I got a tad busy, and many things went through my notice without comment. In most cases, people with more time (and, let's face it, more talent) have made more insightful comments in better prose stylings than I probably would have even if I'd had the time.

So here's a quick roundup of just a few things...

Cuts to the Military Budget
Early in the week, I got all excited because I heard that Obama was making cuts to the military, a logical place to look for extra money to help pay for spending that actually promotes the common good. Turns out, I was believing headlines.

TPM seemed to be the first place to state outright that in no way does a 4% increase in military spending constitute a cut. The Daily Show mocked this thinking, too. As did Rachel Maddow.

And yet, Obama-is-gutting-the-military remains standard coverage, and it's certainly what the pundits and politicians of the right continue to state/lie.

But it's sort of brilliant. The left is now in a position to explain that it's not a cut. "It's an increase! We're stronger AND smarter about defense!"

Instead, it seems to me that the left should be saying, "Hey, if they're gonna accuse us of gutting the military anyway, maybe we should actually cut defense spending." Where the fuck are those voices?

We pay way more on the military than any other country and way more than we ever need to. We're building out-dated bullshit equipment that'll never see the light of day, and good goddamn if that fucking money shouldn't be helping to build a windmill somewhere.

Lefty watchdog cheerleaders
During the years of the Bush administration, I would often rely on lefty advocacy groups to keep me informed of various nefarious dealings in the White House. Many of these groups were understandably thrilled with the election of Barack Obama. But I'm not a big fan of these groups just becoming cheerleaders for the people in power.

It's perhaps unfair to pick on one of these groups, but I'm going to anyway. TrueMajority is an advocacy group with a fairly broad left-ish agenda. They were founded by Ben Cohen of Ben & Jerry's ice cream. Here's a quote from their website:
The central objective of TrueMajority is to increase America's investment in programs that benefit our children (like schools, health care, HeadStart) by cutting Cold War weapons systems and shifting the savings. That's just 15% of the Pentagon budget but would make $60 billion available every year to meet children's basic needs.
OK, that sounds fine.

But in their latest email blast, they state that, "under President Obama's budget, instead of paying billions in missile defense and useless Cold War weapons, your taxes will buy schools, healthcare and green-collar jobs."

It's just not true. Although there may be a shift away from spending money on useless Cold War weapons, money from those weapons programs are staying in the military. Remember? Obama has proposed a 4% increase in military spending. I guess we're going from useless weapons to useful ones. That doesn't sound so terrific to me. At least the useless ones won't kill anyone.

Look, TrueMajority, it's totally fine if you want to support the Obama budget. He is actually spending a lot more on schools, healthcare, and green-collar jobs. But don't spread misinformation and pretend it's being paid for by a cut military budget. I expect more out of my lefty watchdog groups.

Taxes
Once again, B&E readers, it's tax season! I'm from the left. I don't mind taxes. I don't particularly like owing taxes, but I certainly have no problem with the pay-as-you-go approach to taxes.

Some people hate taxes. And some of those people are complete idiots. You may have heard about "tea party" protests. The Boston Tea Party was about "taxation without representation." So unless every one of these people lives in Washington DC, they're fucking stupid.

Not only that, but they seem to be completely unaware of what, exactly, "teabagging" means. This is not a family blog, so let me explain for readers who may not know. It's very simple. Teabagging is dipping one's balls into someone else's mouth. Get the image?

Now watch this. Rachel Maddow and Ana Marie Cox clearly know the definition of teabagging.

And finally, just to end on a cleaner note... One of my colleagues is a creator of "information visualizations." That's "info-graphics" if you want to insult her intelligence. She will occasionally send around a particularly interesting info-viz, and this week's was tax-related. Fascinating.

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Tuesday, April 07, 2009

How Fucking Awesome Is Vermont?

Today, Vermont legalized gay marriage. It's a little hard to believe that the Socialist Republic of Vermont was actually behind Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Iowa (Iowa??) when it comes to equal rights for the LGBT crowd, but there's an important difference between Vermont and those other states.

Vermont's legislative branch made it happen.

In all the other states, it's taken a judge to look at the Constitution and see, why yes, discriminating against someone based on sexual orientation goes against, well, just about everything that the US Constitution stands for. Then the right starts shouting their accusations of "activist" judges, when really the judges are just doing their jobs.

But in Vermont, it's a different story. The state senate and legislature voted in favor of gay marriage. The Republican governor vetoed it. How the hell did Vermont get a Republican governor? Well, he ran against three people on the left who split each others' votes.

To override a veto in Vermont, it takes a two-thirds majority. The Senate overrode that shit soundly, 23-5. In the legislature, it was a squeaker, 100-49 - exactly what was needed and no more.

And now gays can marry in Vermont. No courts, just a equal-minded state government, governor notwithstanding.

Well done, Vermont, you Green Mountain living hippies.

So what the hell is wrong with New York that we're getting out-gayed and out-pinkoed? Next thing we know we'll be getting out-abortioned!

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Friday, April 03, 2009

Git Yer Paws Off Our First Lady, Lady!

It was totally inappropriate the way Queen Elizabeth groped Michelle Obama at Buckingham Palace.

I don't know what sense of entitlement you have, old woman, but that there is our First Lady. She is not to be groped, stroked, embraced, pushed, fondled, cupped, manhandled, or, indeed, queen-handled.

You may recall a little thing we call the Revolutionary War. Perhaps you refer to it as the Colonist Uprising or the New World Rebellion. Because we kicked your red-coated ass right out of our country, you can't just get all grabby with Michelle Obama like that.

You do not rule over our First Lady's ass.

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Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Too Close To Call

So we New Yorkers (really, those New Yorkers) had a special election to fill the House seat vacated by our new Senator, Kristin Gillibrand (or is it Kirsten?).

It's a mostly Republican district, but a lot of New York Republicans aren't exactly Sarah Palin/Rush Limbaugh/right-wing Republicans. Of course, that also means that the Democrats aren't exactly Dennis Kucinich/Michael Moore/left-wing Democrats.

But an unknown Democrat called Scott Murphy has found himself 65 votes ahead of Republican Jim Tedisco, largely because he kept to the mantra, "I support the stimulus package, and my opponent doesn't, or he won't say if he does or doesn't, and isn't that suspicious."

Still, the race is too close to call, with several thousand absentee ballots left to count.

Although the Republican Party seems determined to keep the Minnesota Senate race between Al Franken (who's won) and Norm Coleman (who hasn't) going for "years" (according to Senator Jim Cornyn of Texas, the head of the NRSC, which is the National Republican Senate Committee - I think - and they're bankrolling the court case), and even though this one too will likely end up in court, it should be resolved in weeks, not months or years.

This race, by the way, is also an unofficial test for the leadership of new Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele who, so far, has largely just been making an ass of himself. This is a Republican district, and the Republicans are struggling like hell to win it. Doesn't bode well, Man of Steele.

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Nothing To See Here Folks, But...

If you're desperate for a little hot B&E action on a Sunday (on a Sunday? Really?), check out my guest post on the Artsy Fartsy Tim blog instead.

You (all six of you B&E readers) should check out Tim's blog regularly. He talks art and shows art, sometimes discusses politics, and he's rather obsessed with kiwis. Not the fruity kind, but the land-based bird with the long, pointy beak. What's not to like?

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Friday, March 20, 2009

A Couple of Approaches

The death penalty, or the abolishing thereof, has once again (twice again?) been in the news this week.

First, New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson, whose office is being investigated by the FBI to such a degree that he withdrew his nomination for commerce secretary, abolished the death penalty in his state. He called it the toughest political decision he's ever had to make (although it almost had to have been harder to go with that Obama endorsement over Hillary in the primary).

In his announcement he said that he'd visited the prison where people serve life without the chance for parole and deemed it worse than death. So that's good enough. No more death penalty in New Mexico.

Meanwhile, B&E man-crush Russell "Damn, you" Feingold of the great state of Wisconsin, pulled his long-time favorite death penalty abolishing bill out of his back pocket, just for the pure fun of it. He cited that only China, Saudi Arabia, and Iran put to death more people than the United States. That's some good company!

Long-time B&E readers already know that I'm an anti-death penaltier. I'm a pretty cynical person, but nothing is more cynical than the death penalty. I believe in the power of redemption. I believe that even a person who's committed a terrible, terrible act has the potential to come to terms with that terrible, terrible act, and feel genuine remorse over it. And even if they have to stay in prison and live with that, the potential for redemption makes saving the life necessary.

Oh, and of course, sometimes justice screws up, and people on death row are innocent. Yeah, and the state shouldn't be in the business of murder.

So props to Governor Bill for getting rid of the death penalty and all, but what's with this, "Life without parole is worse than death"? Why you gotta make the death penalty sound like it's all weak on crime? Get outta here. That's just stupid. Get rid of the death penalty because it's wrong, Guv. Don't cop out on the issue, for crying out loud.

And real props to the stunningly and substantively attractive Russ "Your Policies Are" Feingold for putting up a good bill without any need to make excuses for it. God knows it won't pass, mostly because politicians are cowards. But it's nice to get the issue back on the table for discussion.

It's time, America. Let's grow up here.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Obama Keeps Tapping

President Obama is doing too much! He's working too hard! He's employing too many people! He's solving unemployment by hiring everyone himself!

Anyway, President Obama has tapped Van Jones. (Heh, heh.) Sorry... President Obama has appointed Van Jones a special adviser for green jobs.

Van Jones has been making some national noise over the past year or so as an activist and environmentalist. He writes from time to time in The Nation magazine and has been a guest multiple times on Democracy Now!. He wrote a book called The Green Collar Economy, and his nonprofit Green For All helps lift people out of poverty through environmental jobs.

I like this fella a lot. I'm a fan of that place where environmentalism intersects with social justice, and Van Jones is pretty much the man taking up the space there.

These quiet appointments can be very powerful in an Obama administration, and assuming that Van gets his voice heard in the White House, this tapping (heh, heh) demonstrates some terrific progressive thinking. Well done, President Obama. Well done, Van Jones.

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