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Life in post apocalyptic NJ: gougers and bipartisan bullshit

Running off Generator Power!!
Riverdaughter’s — Free Charging Station

Courtesy of The Confluence

I’m about to head out for gas and firewood but not very confident about finding either. Last night,the lights flickered briefly, then went out again. The high voltage transmission lines cut through this section of new jersey about a mile from my house. The road beneath them is blocked off and it now occurs to me that there must be a major problem with one of the towers.

In the meantime, I’ve been listening to the news on WNYC and everyone is marveling over the amazing bipartisanship display between Chris Christie and Barack Obama. Allow me to be cynical here. Christie is the governor who cancelled the new rail tunnel project underneath the Hudson between Hoboken and manhattan. That tunnel wouldn’t have saved Hoboken or the rail line this year but in future storms, it would have had modern anti flooding and pumping mechanisms so the catastrophe we’re now looking at with the rail system would be avoided.

Governor Christie has a particular loathing for NJ Transit. His budget cut $300 million from NJ Transit in the first year of his administration, causing fares to skyrocket and improvements to be cut. Instead, Christie’s administration gave $300 million to the developers of a white elephant shopping mall extravaganza in the Meadowlands. Those developers lost their shirts in 2008 before they could finish the mall that nobody wanted. So, to recap, NJ rail customers – 0, rich developers – 300. This is the same governor who yells at teachers and makes the rest of us feel like parasites. He belongs to the party that cut back unemployment bennies for people in this state by 26 weeks. Let’s not make a hero out of Christie.

And let’s not pretend that it is above Barack Obama to milk this disaster for all that it’s worth. Sometimes, I wonder if there really is a Satan and Obama is his guy. First there was the financial collapse of September 2008 and now this. In both cases, Obama looks like he’s cruisin for a bruisin and then voile! Catastrophe and loss. It’s perfect. Lots of free airtime with Obama hugging displaced elderly ladies in a shelter and distributing packs of White House stamped m&m’s to poor little kiddies missing Halloween. Did Michelle know he was going to do that? Message, “I care”.

Please.

Here’s what I imagined happened. Christie reads the signs on the national hurricane service maps, which his party is dying to privatize, and sees sandy heading right towards us. Knowing that re-election campaigning for him starts in January 2013, he swallows his pride and calls the White House. Obama drives a hard bargain. If you want a quick response, you’d better say nice things about us from the very start. You will appear at my side and fawn all over me. You will say I’m the nicest, bestest, most efficient and empathetic president you have ever met and my administration is on the ball.

So, Christie is.

I don’t expect Obama’s attention to New Jersey to last beyond election day. After that, Christie is on his own and so will the rest of New Jersey. If we’re going to get this state up and running again, it all has to happen before next Tuesday or we’re screwed. By the way, to change the date of a presidential election takes an act of Congress. Please let me know if you hear of representatives rising back to make the election fair for those communities at the shore who were obliterated.

In the New Jersey Hall of Shame add AT&T. Their response has been pathetic during the aftermath. Unlike the electric and gas utilities, they have been very tight lipped to reporters about the extent of damage to their cellular network. Service has been spotty at best although it looks like the local cell tower is finally back on line. But considering the fact that we still don’t have cable or any electricity and are living in a black out zone as far as news goes, I was more than a little infuriated that AT&T sent a “you only have 20% left on your data plan” message to my iPad. Amazing how they can keep track of that in the midst of a catastrophe that they are partially responsible for. I’ve heard that AT&T was finally forced to join forces with Verizon to get the data/cellular network going and the first thing they send out is a data limit notice.

In this emergency when we don’t know what’s going on or whether to boil our water or not or where we can get cheap firewood, the idea that AT&T is still putting artificial limits on the data plans is outrageous. Not only that but from what I heard in WNYC last night, back in 2008 after another cellular network failure in the aftermath of a catastrophe, there was a bill pending in Congress that would have mandated that the cell towers have an 8 hour back up generator plan and the telecoms killed that bill. Yep, they killed it. This is when many people such as myself have ,given up our landlines so the only way we can call first responders after and emergency is by using our cell phones and the immoral bastards killed the bill with their army of lobbyists.

There should be congressional hearings when this is all over. There need to be limits on how little regulation utilities and telecoms should be getting away with. We are talking about public safety now.

F}#^ers.

“Never attribute to malice…

…that which can adequately be explained by stupidity”

- Robert Hanlon

For those who are curious, I haven’t been posting much because I’ve been living in interesting times, in the Chinese sense of the term.  I’d love to be a passive observer, sort of an anthropologist, watching fault lines develop and empires rise and fall.  There’s a book to be written about this period of time when the Ozymandius we call the American Dream started to crumble. Fortunately, there will be plenty of documentation for the future author to sift through. Oh, well, it’s very hard to reverse the bad decisions of 2008 when the king makers deceived the general public.  Who could have guessed that Obama would be the guy most likely to reintroduce feudalism?

Um, actually, I think we might have been on to that.  But whatchagonnado?  We’re just a bunch of uneducated working class menopausal sino-peruvian lesbians.  (Sorry, myiq)

Anyway, I thought I’d weigh in on topics I haven’t been following closely because we are all entitled to our own uninformed opinion.

Elena Kagan: All I need to know about Kagan is that Obama is appointing her.  Perhaps this is unfair guilt by association but as I’ve said before, “nothing good grows from a bad seed”.  Obama’s meteoric rise to fame and glory had some notable unpleasant features and starred some very bad actors giving him scads of money and encouraging party officials to reshape the rules to favor a predetermined outcome regardless of the voters’ sentiments.  That was a bad sign of things to come and our concerns were largely born out.  If you want to see what this has done to the party as a whole, you need look no further than BTD’s post from yesterday and the exchange in the comments that followed where several people straighten out his ass.  The Democrats really don’t know what to think about much of anything anymore.  That’s what you get when you opt for political expedience over guiding principles.

Anyway, about Kagan, I would hope that Al Franken questions her about stuff related to commerce and business and labor relationships and finance and pensions and whether investment brokers have an obligation to tell their clients what they’re really up to and free speech and net neutrality and stuff like that.  The abortion ship has sailed.  Roe never meant equality, ladies.  Let it go.  Work on getting real equality.  If the USSC wanted to outlaw abortion today, it has the votes to do it and that’s not going to change with Kagan’s vote.  If it remains the law of the land, it’s only because both parties find it politically expedient, except now we know that the Democrats are hyprocrites.  Let this be a warning to young Democratic women.  Never join a club that has less than 34% women.  If Democrats want my vote back, they’d be wise to implement a quota system in their party membership guaranteeing no less than 34% women running for office.  Scandanavian political parties have a quota system and they have some of the highest living standards and gender equality statistics in the world. But we can save an argument in favor of gender equality in the political parties for another post.  Let’s just say it’s past due and there are very good arguments in favor of it.

Facebook: As many of you may have discovered, I am not a facebook addict.  Send me an invite and I’m likely to ignore it.  I like friends as much as the next person and believe me, it’s not personal.  But I just don’t like the idea of facebook, it’s kludgy interface or the pressure to join it.  In my humble opinion, I feel it has the potential to become the tool to use for social engineering.  Imagine an army of Obot marketers and political psychologists getting their tentacles into facebook through some back room deal with facebook’s founder. The very thought gives me chills.   It would be like the Big Orange Cheeto on crystal meth.  Before you knew it, half the country could be convinced that social security is a commie plot and Democrats have always been against it.  I love to connect with people but prefer my GD independence.  If I wanted peer pressure, I could attend a DFA event.  Not really my thing.  I know some of you don’t see the harm in it and that’s ok.  But that’s how consensus reality works.  You get subsumed into the culture of a thing and before you know it, your perception has changed.  And when your reality is shaped by another entity, how are you going to be sure you’re making up your own mind?

I’ve been following some of the controversy around facebook privacy settings.  This Week in Google, had a very good discussion around the facebook issue and the potential dangers.  (the facebook discussion starts about 1/3 of the way through the podcast)  Also, Al Franken has instructions if you want to disentangle yourself from facebook.  Your choice.

Or it *should* be.

I’ve got a lot of things to say but limited time these days.  But as I watch events around me, I continue to be surprised, but not at all astonished, at the level of incompetence and pointless ambition of the people who we have entrusted to run things.  I can’t imagine why BTD wouldn’t want Bill Clinton back at times like these.  Nor can I understand why the Democrats would slit their throats and destroy the country rather than do the right thing.  If there’s an enthusiasm gap with voters, they brought it on themselves through what I hope is just stupidity. So, to them and all the other clueless who are cannibalizing each other these days, um, have a nice day.

Reward Good Behavior- Al Franken

Al Franken has been busy, busy, busy this week!  Just look at all the stuff he’s been up to:

  • Al Franken spoke sternly to David Axelrod (does anyone else think that Axelrod has the profile of a rat? Raise your hand).  Where is the leadership from the White House?  LOL!  That’s a good one, Al.  I’m sure that was meant to be a rhetorical question.  See, Obama and his droogs handlers don’t think they *have* to lead.   I guess the White House figures that either the Senate forces the health care insurance reform bill on the House as is and makes the whole Democratic party look like they are capitulating to the right, thereby alienating their base, possibly permanently, or the Senate grows a more liberal spine and gets blamed by the media for capitulating to the extremist left.  Ooooo, Tea Partiers!  BOO!  It’s not like the media and its superultrauber wealthy, ruthless authoritarian owners like the Rupert Murdoch and Jack Welch proteges don’t have a vested interest in turning up the volume on those tea partiers.  Whatever, is the attitude the White House is projecting, with Obama doing the “And that would affect me how…?” posture of the smartass teenager.  Everyone <3 Obama, or so Axelrod thinks.  But my momma told me that “Looks don’t last, cookin’ do” (It’s probably Pennsylvania Dutch).  I suspect that a lot of people in those polls say they like Obama because they’re sick of being called racists if they say they don’t like his poor presidential leadership.   Obama might need his party someday.  Better make friends with those senators and stop being so coy and ethereal about his political philosophy.  Sink or swim with your party.  Solidarity should mean something and besides, we’re losing patience out here.
  • Al Franken gave a speech to NARAL on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.  You can read the whole thing here.  Al’s got our back on the Choice front but I would like Al to think bigger than Roe v. Wade.  After all, we wouldn’t need a Roe v. Wade if women were truly equal persons under the law and were able to exercise their unalienable right to decide for themselves whether or not to become parents.  Or their unalienable right to worship as they please or not please.  Or their unalienable right to determine their own morality about their reproductive decisions as women in many developed countries around the world are able to do.  The time has come.  Roe v. Wade was never our ticket to equality.  Let it die.  Bring on the war.
  • Al Franken takes on media giants Comcast and NBC.  He’s absolutely right about one thing.  You can’t trust the media.  They are not on the side of a free society.  They on the side of those maintaining a carefully controlled underclass.  Hey, if Democrats want to vote for this merger without closing all of the loopholes and strengthening the anti-trust protections, who are we to stop them?  They’ve never wanted our input on anything anyway (but they call our houses incessantly for money and our votes).  On the other hand, I can see no logical reason why any entity would consciously participate in its own demise, content with a few weak promises of restraint from the guys who potentially have Democrats’ balls in their hands come election time.  If Comcast and NBC REALLY, REALLY want to merge, now is the time to extract that pound of flesh, like reinstatement of the “fairness doctrine” or painful concessions on net neutrality or new rules regarding competition in townships like mine where Comcast practically owns the high speed internet market, keeping out competitors like Verizon FIOS.  This is a no-brainer to those of us out here watching.  But Democrats have been winning a lot of Darwin Awards for the past several decades so expect them to screw it up.
Trust me, kids, the Al Franken Decade was a classic

The Al Franken Decade was a classic.

I’m happy to say that Al was one of my better bets in 2008.  He’s turned out to be pretty much what I expected: an assertive, principled, liberal Democrat who is a royal pain in the ass to the Republicans and some Democrats alike.  He opens his mouth and shameless liberal ideals come out of it.  Watching him go after insurance companies that cut people off at their sickest, defense contractors who force rape victims into mediation and Joe Lieberman’s endless monotone bogarting of the Senate mic has been a joy and a pleasure.  This may be the “Al Franken Decade”.  It’s 30 years late but I’ll take it.

In the meantime, I propose we show Al some appreciation and demonstrate to the other “anonymous Senators” who are secret liberal Al admirers (that means YOU, Bob Menendez)  that good behavior will be rewarded.  You can make a contribution to Al here.

$25 per Conflucian adds up to a lot of reward.

What will it take for Koolaid drinkers to finally accept reality?

Some still refuse to see the truth

Some still refuse to see the truth

The Obama administration’s betrayals of liberalism are ubiquitous. Has he ever kept a single one of his campaign promises? They could hardly be called promises anyway, since Obama had such a long history of voting “present” before he ran for President. Way back in January, 2008, I was asking Obama supporters to name an issue that he really cared about enough to stand and fight.

I never got a clear answer–because Obama never made those kinds of commitments. He was always wishy-washy and all over the place when it came to important issues. Yet we are still seeing passionate Obama supporters who fail to deal with this reality. Here are three examples of Obama administration betrayals that I found today in about 10 minutes of ‘net surfing.

Outrage #1

Long-time Obama stooge and Huffpo columnist Sam Stein reports today that unnamed “Hill aides” have complained to him that the votes for the public option would be there in the Senate if only President Obama would step up and fight for its inclusion in the health care reform bill.

“There is a clear sense that it would be helpful,” said one senior Democratic aide. “Throughout this entire debate the White House line has been ‘We will weigh in when it is necessary’…. Well now we need 60 votes. So if it’s not necessary now, then when will it be?”

“I think folks in general in Congress were looking to the president to clearly define his feeling on the issue,” another aide said. “And I don’t think he has done that on the public option from the get-go… With a lot of senators nervous because of elections or other political dynamics, it would be helpful for the president to send a strong signal that this is what he wants in the final bill.”

Let me get this straight. There are still people working for U.S. Senators who actually believe that Obama supports the inclusion of a public option in the bill?! And these morons are helping to run our government? No wonder things are so f**ked up! These “Hill aides” need to put down the Koolaid glass and step away from the punch bowl. Time for a reality check. Obama doesn’t care about the public option. He will only accept one if it is either completely neutered or forced on him. Pull up your britches and fight for it yourself! Continue reading

Thursday Morning at The Confluence: Browsing at Nini’s Corner

Nini's Corner Newstand, Harvard Square

Nini's Corner Newstand, Harvard Square

In your mind’s eye, join me for a leisurely morning browse through the Nini’s Corner newstand in Harvard Square. Before the internet, it was great place to find local, national, and international newspapers and periodicals. For now the monsoons have stopped and Harvard Square is warm, sunny, and welcoming. We can buy a selection of newspapers, grab a cup of coffee and a muffin, and find a comfortable place to sit outdoors and catch up on what’s happening in the world. Many thanks to MABlue for sending along some recommended links.

Sotomayor Confimation Hearings

Legal experts’ views on the Sotomayor hearing

At Stake in Hearings Are Post-Sotomayor Nominations

After three days of testimony, Judge Sotomayor appeared to have made no major mistakes that would jeopardize her confirmation in a Senate dominated by Democrats. So both sides are trying to use the Judiciary Committee hearings to define the parameters of an acceptable nomination in case another seat opens up during Mr. Obama’s presidency.

Charlie Savage is such a good reporter–a real throwback.

Franken Stumps Sotomayor

Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor was breezing through her third day of confirmation hearings before the Senate Judiciary Committee when she was tripped up by, of all people, the junior senator from Minnesota, Al Franken.

The comedian, in his second week on the job, noted that Sotomayor had, earlier in the day, said she was inspired to become a prosecutor by watching “Perry Mason,” who, in all his TV episodes, lost only one case to the nefarious Hamilton Burger. Franken’s question was deft and devastating: “What was the one case in ‘Perry Mason’ that Burger won?”

For the first time all week, the future justice was stumped.

[....]

“Didn’t the White House prepare you for that?” he asked with incredulity.

I remember that case. But I think Perry Mason won it on appeal.

Coburn might have some “splaining to do”

Of Pride and Prejudice: Latinos celebrate a milestone that Judge Sotomayor’s critics struggle to understand (h/t MABlue) Continue reading

You can call him Senator Al

Franken takes the oath, proudly (Photo from the NYTimes)

Franken takes the oath, proudly (Photo from the NYTimes)

He’s an occasionally tasteless, egomaniac who declared the 80’s “The Al Franken Decade”, dedicated to him, Al Franken.  But Al Franken got me and millions of others through the darkest nights of the Bush Administration in 2004.  His Sundance Channel rebroadcast of his Air America show was one of my DVR must sees.  Every night.  As I curled up on the sofa sipping my chamomile tea and wondering when it would all end.  We cried together when Kerry lost, not because we were enamoured with Kerry but because the Bushies had four more years to screw things up.

He wrote some pretty scathing books too.  Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot and Lying Liars were funny in a “kidding on the square” way.  In other words, Franken flayed the bastards with facts.  They were deliciously wicked reads. Not only is he funny but he’s smart as a whip and could always carry on an intelligent conversation with his guests on Air America.

But it was easy to see where Franken was coming from.  He never hid his political leanings.  He is unabashedly liberal who cares about his country in a choked up with pride and concern kind of way.  I remember seeing him in an interview a couple of years ago after Air America started.  At one point, he stopped the sarcasm and got emotional about what was happening to the country.  It’s real.

I think his friends told him to hold off running for Senate in 2006.  He probably wasn’t ready but you could tell he was disappointed to not be able to pick up where Paul Wellstone left off.  But 2008 was a good year for him and he learned what it takes to be a good politician and also how to be patient during an agonizing 8 months of recount.  Now, he’ll have his chance to be a dedicated public servant.

Today as he took the oath, many congressional staffers who wanted to see him sworn in were prevented from doing so.  The gallery was too crowded.  There was an ovation afterwards.  People who still see him as a comedian don’t understand how courageous he looked to the rest of us.  It’s hard to go against the irresistable force of public opinion and conventional wisdom and to put one’s fortune and sacred honor on the line for principle and personal belief.  In this day and age, it’s just not done.  But he did it.

Al Franken has managed to snag some pretty impressive committee assignments. He will be a junior member of the Committess on Aging, Indian Affairs, HELP (Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) and Judiciary.  That last assignment is a bit unusual for a guy who is not a lawyer.  But Al has a chance to become our voice in the nomination hearings of Sonia Sotomayor starting next week.  We’ll have to work out a live blog schedule to cover it.  I hope Franken recognizes that Sotomayor probably isn’t going to change the dynamics when it comes to abortion but her opinions on business practices, corporations, the unitary executive theory and discrimination law need to be fleshed out.  I’m looking forward to seeing Franken sink his teeth into it.

So, Good Luck, Al.  We know you can do this.  Make the voters of Minnesota and the rest of us proud.

Now, get to work!


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Chuck Schumer Might Need to Watch His Back

You tell 'em, Chuck!

You tell 'em, Chuck!

Wow! In an interview with Huffington Post over the long weekend, Chuck Schumer said that with Franken seated, there is no more need for compromise on health care legislation.

Schumer offered a detailed and frank assessment of the political landscape of the current health care debate. Predicting that the final bill will include a public plan, he painted the Republican Party as rigid to a fault when it comes to negotiations.

“This is where we are going to end up,” he said of a health care overhaul that included a public plan. “And I think, it would be much better for the Senate Finance Committee if we did it in the committee… I think the Senate HELP committee compromised already, because you have a lot of members on the HELP committee who would’ve liked [the public option] to be much closer to Medicare. The idea seems to be catching everybody’s imagination, and sense of fairness. And the only holdouts are sort of ideologues on the Republican side of this saying no government involvement whatsoever.”

Schumer didn’t add, but I will that we have a President who is too wimpy to stand up to the Republicans and fight for a public option and who opposes singer payer because it would “suddenly upend” the current health care system.

Back to Schumer:

“My bottom-line criteria is that it has to be strong, national, and available to everyone on day one, to keep the insurance companies honest and I’m not sure we can get there,” Schumer said. “I’ve been talking to [Sen.] Olympia [Snowe] about this,” he added, referring to the trigger option’s main proponent in the Senate, “but I’m not sure we can bridge that gap.”

Similarly critical remarks were offered for the idea of replacing a public plan with health care co-ops, which Schumer described as insufficient and unpractical.

“[Sen. Chuck] Grassley hasn’t closed the door, but it seems in general that his model of co-op is little co-ops popping up like they do in farm country,” he said. “And the model that we are saying we need is they have to be strong, national and available everywhere from the first day. And I think we are very far apart on this.”

I wonder if the Senator from New York has discussed this with the big boss. Hasn’t Obama been making noises about compromising on the public option in order to get Republication votes? And then when people keep complaining, “expressing concern” about grass roots effort to get single payer health care?

Can Schumer withstand the presidential blowback? I just hope he sticks to his guns, even after Obama returns from his latest trip and starts talking about compromise and trying his best to make sure his buddies in the insurance and pharmaceutical corporations are well taken of. I’m not going to hold my breath, but I do have hope.

And maybe Shumer has been hearing from his constitutents. Today’s Washington Post has an interesting on-line post by Doug Feaver on the views of “health-care lobbyists vs. real people

Our Readers Who Comment are nearly unanimous this morning in condemning the news that more than 350 former government staff members and retired members of Congress are lobbying for major health-care firms in the legislative attempts to reform the broken system.

Feaver provides a sampling of reader responses. Here are a few examples:

sashab1 wrote, “…Single-payer, universal health care is the only reform that will actually work. The insurance industry is going to water down the public option until it won’t work, and they will be back in business (and we will be wringing our hands again) in a couple of years.”

lionelroger predicted that “Obama will most certainly be a one-termer if he falls in with a corrupt Congress and does not deliver a public option Plan or single-payer universal health care… It is a monumental travesty for Congress and Federal employees to enjoy a cafeteria-style Health Benefits Plan subsidized by taxpayers but not available to all our citizens. Enough of this injustice.”

texanrme said, “This a war for the survival of those that have profited at the expense of the sick and elderly for generations… They want to argue how government can not handle healthcare administration, but they have proven beyond a doubt that neither can they…”

Of course some commenters still think that Obama is looking out for their best interests, but it does seem that generally people are starting to wake up and smell the corruption.


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