Thursday, July 29, 2010

Heads need to roll on this one: “It’s shameful that an insurance company is stealing money from the families of our fallen servicemen."

There are SOBs. There are greedy SOBs. There are greedy, lying, conniving, evil SOBs. And then there are insurance companies.

David Evans of Bloomberg news reveals how the families of fallen American soldiers are getting misled and essentially ripped off for part of their life insurance benefits by Prudential and Met Life (as well as other life insurance beneficiaries getting ripped off by other insurance companies), with the complicity of some state insurance regulators and the Federal Veterans Affairs Office.

Read it, gnash your teeth, and then write your Congressional representative and Senator telling them you want these evil insurance people behind bars, where they belong, as well as the insurance regulators who bent over for them.

(Thanks to Underbelly-Buce for alerting me to this.)

Monday, July 26, 2010

The mosque, Ground Zero, and a bunch of U.S. Constitution-hating nincompoops, including Sarah Palin, Andrea Peyser, and Carl Paladino

Back in colonial times, a Quaker passing through the Massachusetts Bay Colony got whipped and had his ears sliced off by the good Puritan colonists for…being a Quaker.

In the name of the Inquisition, hundreds, if not thousands of non-Catholics were tortured, and burned at the stake. Their crime? Not being Catholic.

In France, Protestant Huguenots were enslaved for life on galley ships for being…Protestants.

The U.S. Constitution supposedly

put an end to intolerance

When America was founded, the founding fathers said they’d had enough of this hateful intolerance. The Bill of Rights, the very First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, in its very first sentence, even before it got down to Freedom of Speech and the Press, declared this:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”

It didn’t and still doesn't say, “except when a lot of people with money and the media equivalent of loud speakers say differently.”

In New York City, a group of Muslims wants to build a mosque. I have no particular brief for the Muslim religion, and I have a personal loathing for jihad and for the practice of Sharia law in the 21st Century. But I do have respect for the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

An outpouring of hatred

So I’m horrified at the huge outpouring of hatred from monied and politically devious sources who are stirring up a hornet’s nest of hatred against the Muslim group because the mosque and community center they want to build is two blocks from ground zero.

The operative word is “two” because, of course, none of the people opposing are bigots. Oh no!

“I am not against a mosque. I am against a location of a mosque. I don’t want a mosque on the grave of my son and on the grave of everybody else who was murdered that day,” said one woman while the Fox News TV cameras rolled. Fox. Of course, Fox.

How far away is far enough?

But wait a second, m’am. Your son’s grave is two blocks away. And if that's too close, how far away is far enough? Would three blocks do it? How about four? A mile? Two miles? Or should mosques be allowed on the same island? What about the same coast of the United States, m’am?

But wait, you've got idiot friends seeking to be in powerful places who are backing you up, m’am. Sarah Palin, for example.

In a post to her Facebook page which mysteriously disappeared and then reappeared, Palin declared, and then undeclared, and then re-declared, “Many Americans, myself included, feel it would be an intolerable and tragic mistake to allow such a project sponsored by such an individual to go forward on such hallowed ground. This is nothing close to ‘religious intolerance,’ it’s just common decency.”

Right. Except that, as previously noted, the hallowed ground is two blocks away. (Who hallowed it, by the way? By what authority is land made holy under the First Amendment?) What Palin is doing with statements like this is stirring up religious intolerance, a just plain common indecent thing to do.

At Rupert Mudoch’s right wing New York Post, the mother of all witches, Andrea Peyser, plays fast and loose with the facts. She writes: “Plans to bring what one critic calls a 'monster mosque' to the site of the old Burlington Coat Factory building, at a cost expected to top $100 million, moved along for months

without a peep. All of a sudden, even members of the community board that stupidly green-lighted the mosque this month are tearing their hair out."

Community board had no real say

Witchy Andrea a few paragraphs later finally got around to mentioning that Community Boards in New York have no official say in such matters. So what it boils down to is that their “green light” was the equivalent of a whistling “Melancholy Baby” — a total irrelevance.

Now some upstate New York candidate for Governor who is so-far-right-it’s off-the-charts, a fellow named Carl Palladino claims he will “use the right of eminent domain” to stop the mosque. He

doesn’t spell out what that means, but if it means anything at all, it means that he’ll take a couple of hundred million worth of taxpayer money to buy up commercial property two blocks from ground zero so Muslim worshippers can’t have it.

Good luck to funding education, or highways, or law enforcement, or hospitals, or anything else a state ought to be doing with Palladino’s cut-taxes-and-spend-for-mosque-property philosophy of government.

Of course, the other looney Republican candidate for Governor, Rick The Loser Lazio, who proved what a jerk he is when he walked up to Hillary Clinton during a televised debate and aggressively shoved a pile of paper under her face, also favors repealing the First Amendment — whoops, I’m sorry, stopping the mosque.

But also note Muslim-American

tone deafness

The wannabe builders of this Muslim facility aren’t without blame either. They suffer from a severe case of tone deafness in standing by their proposal.

Nevertheless, last I heard, tone deafness wasn’t against the law and the U.S. Constitution still hasn’t been repealed.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Go ahead. Murder a cyclist. In New York and New Jersey, cops and judges think it’s cool. Serves the green-minded bastards right!

Watch the You Tube video above as it shows, a cop running out to body slam a cyclist who was taking part in a legal demonstration.

The former police officer, Patrick Pogan, was found guilty in a jury trial of lying on an official police report about what happened. Fortunately, the videotape clearly contradicted Pogon’s coverup.

Unfortunately, Judge Maxwell Riley imposed no punishment — none whatsoever — on Pogan. Pogan’s lawyer had asked for a ridiculously light sentence of community service. Not light enough, said Judge Riley, who evidently thinks that negative publicity is punishment enough for attempting to inflict bodily harm on a peaceable citizen, falsely arresting the citizen, and lying on a police report.

If cyclists in the New York metropolitan area are outraged, this isn’t the first time. Advertising copywriter and journalist Richard Rosenthal, who specializes in bicycle related subjects, recently catalogued on the website of the New York Cycle Club a list of outrages by cops and judges.

In one post on a lengthy bicycle club
bulletin board thread Rosenthal wrote:

Wylie joins Alpine Judge Robert L. Ritter (who has a Hackensack law practice) in those in law who can't bring themselves to rise to the responsibility of their position. Ritter found Wha S. Kim not guity of even a modest driving infraction when she came up from behind and killed Camille Savoy as he was, according to an accident reconstructionist and a police expert, biking on the shoulder of 9W.

Wylie joins the NYPD and prosecutors on Staten Island who couldn't bring themselves to so much as issue a ticket to Anthony Tasso, Jr., the 23 year old driver-killer of upper-50s bank examiner Jerome Allen, as Tasso drove his uncle's Lexus SUV with a suspended license.

Wylie joins the Queens NYPD and prosecutors who couldn't bring themselves to so much as issue a ticket to 23 year old Jose Vicens as he came up from behind and killed 14 year old Andre Anderson as he was riding his bike.

The list goes on and on: A spectacularly caring and humane physician, Dr. Carl Nacht. Killed while cycling. Driver not ticketed.

Dr. Rachel Fruchter, 57, a graduate of Oxford with a Ph.D. from Rockefeller, a biochemist and professor of obstetrics. Killed while cycling in Prospect Park. Driver, who was not supposed to be in the park as he was, was ticketed. For equipment failure.


Must we supinely hope for injury or death while cycling of those loved by those in authority before they can bestir themselves to exercise their authority in a just, even-handed way...

For starters, I'd say demand answers of those whose failure to act in accord with the law and their responsibility to enforce, prosecute, and adjudicate it.

I am. I've written Justice Wylie to explain his thinking...
Great reporting, Richard! And if you ever hear from Judge Wylie (or if, after a reasonable time you don't) please let us know.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Republican Senatorial Candidate Linda McMahon’s plan to “create jobs” is actually a plan to enrich the rich at your expense. And to cost your job.

As a neighboring New Yorker, I’ve been bombarded with so-called “businesswoman” Linda McMahon’s televised promises to create “jobs jobs jobs” if she gets elected as Senator from Connecticut.

The commercials are nonstop, day and night, night and day.

So I went to her website, just as she encouraged me to do, and checked out her so-called jobs program.

The “program” is contained in a 20-page brochure, and it’s pretty self-evident that McMahon wants to bore you out of reading before you get down to the details — what little there is of them.

Instead, the first six pages lull you with cheap knocks at “career politicians,” paragraph after paragraph of generalities and nonsequiturs, and the valuable economic program news that “Linda and Vince McMahon are celebrating over 43 years of marriage…” a bulletin that ends with her grandchildren count.

Then, little by little, she begins to give away what she really intends to do if she can trick enough voters into voting for her. And if you read carefully enough, it gets mighty scary, mighty quick.

Four McMahon “initiatives” that can bring

the U.S. economy to its knees

McMahon favors four initiatives that she admits having lifted from the Reagan administration.

The first is to “reduce tax rates across the board.” Fine, but you’d better believe that the Wall Street billionaires and multi-millionaires who are socking it away will get a better break than you, fellow taxpayer. Want to bet it’ll work like this: You get $200. The billionaire gets $200,000 million. And then guess what happens to services, highways and other infrastructure? Or to your unemployment benefits, your Social Security or your Medicare? Or to Federal subsidies to schools? Or consequently, guess what happens to your school taxes? Or to the education your kids will get? The list goes on, but I think you get my drift. She'll reduce taxes mostly on the rich by reducing programs for the middle class and poor.

“Reduce regulations and mandates on business” is her second iconic Reagan Administration “achievement.” And what did that result in? Well, an unregulated Wall Street led to the economic meltdown we’re suffering from now, for example. And to the lack of safety enforcement that led to the BP blowout in the Gulf of Mexico.

The truth is, we need more regulations, sternly enforced if we want to save jobs. Those include jobs in small business that once were financed by banks. Unregulated banks have ceased financing small businesses because with no regulation they're free to gamble with depositors' money instead, enriching nobody except bankers. More regulation would also restore jobs lost in the Gulf region — jobs that range from fishing, to travel, to even oil drilling.

“Sound government finances. Don’t spend more than you can pay for,” is her third Reagan policy icon. Fine. If we had that rule during WWII, we would have lost WWII. And where was Linda McMahon when George W. Bush and his cronies were racking up the largest debt in American history? Gee, I didn’t hear from her then. The truth is, the government should control and pay back its debt. But there are times when only borrowing can help an individual—or the United States economy—survive. This is one of them.

“Sound money. Keep inflation low; keep the dollar strong,” is her last Reganomics mantra. Small problem. Inflation has never been lower. We’re teetering on the brink of deflation, not inflation. The dollar has recently gained impressive strength against the Euro. Give that wonderful news to all those unemployed people, Linda.

And she proposes more horrors:

Linda McMahon opposes tax increases and surcharges on the rich, who already are letting what’s the shrinking middle class do the heavy financial lifting while they buy yachts, McMansions, and multiple homes — and walk then away from mortgages at a faster rate than anyone else.

Linda McMahon would give rich investors a better tax break if they lose their investment money, not to you if you lose your job. She would “help [rich] people recover from the devastating losses in real estate and stock markets during the financial crises.” She doesn’t say a word about helping you survive a devastating job loss.

If you have a job, she’d export it to China. She says it in code by declaring she would “Resist protectionist policies that hamper global trade and investment.” She claims the Columbia, Panama and Korea Tree Trade agreements “would increase exports by more than 1%.” Small problems: Exports of what? Mostly of jobs that are already here, that’s what.

Incidentally, there’s a scandal brewing about Linda McMahon and steroids in professional wrestling.

But then, why is a “family values” person like McMahon promoting the violence of wrestling in the first place?

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Evil Step Mother, 21st Century Version

Excerpted from a blog post by Lauren Heaton in the Yellow Springs, Ohio, NEWS (and you should read the rest and retch):

I'm not a mom, but I am a step-mom. I’m a step-mom who likes to cook all manner of new and surprising dishes and try them out on my captive consumers. Well, actually they wouldn’t eat it any other way.

The first dinner I ever made for “the kids” occurred shortly after we met. None of us knew anything about step-relationships, let alone how our individual personalities would mesh. If I was going to be part of the crew they were going to have to turn the kitchen pretty much entirely over to me, and I didn’t want to create false hopes that they would be seeing Kraft Mac ‘n Cheese and boiled peas every night. So I made the kids, ages 4, 7, 10 and 12, vegan shabu shabu, a Japanese hot pot with nappa cabbage, tofu and cellophane noodles in a citrus-soy fish broth.
Look, I'm as much a fan of quirky Yellow Springs as anyone else, but enough is enough! Have a heart, lady! Give the kids a cheeseburger!

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

"Police State USA?" Well thanks to its mayor, New York is working hard to earn that title.

You’re walking down the street. Say, on your way to the supermarket. A cop stops you and demands you lie down on the ground, face down. Then he frisks you.

Poof! You're forever a criminal suspect.

You haven’t done anything illegal. It doesn’t matter. The cop finds your driver’s license in your wallet and calls it in. That action puts your name in a database for suspicious people. Along with your picture. Now, whenever there’s a criminal investigation, people will be asked if they recognize you, if they know your name.

Chechnya? Moscow? Peking?

Nope. New York.

As New York Times columnist Bob Herbert recently pointed out, it happens with regularity to African-Americans and Hispanics in New York.

This is racist behavior. It’s police state behavior. And it’s disgraceful.

Why won't Napoleon Bonaparte Bloomberg
stop this disgraceful behavior?

It would stop in a second if Mayor Michael Bloomberg told his police commissioner, Ray Kelley, “Cut it out or you’re fired.”

Fat chance! Since Michael Bloomberg overthrew New York’s election laws and did the equivalent of what another pipsqueak tyrant, Napoleon Bonaparte did when he crowned himself emperor, New York is only for people Mayor Bloomberg thinks ought to be living here.

The Mayor effectively threw out term limit laws by making a devil’s compact with the City Council. It said, in effect, “Let’s all override the public referendum that imposed term limits.” Job-greedy City Councilmen went along.

Drowning out legitimate opposition

Then, with $60 million or so of campaign spending, Bloomberg drowned out the protests of anyone who’d dare run against him.

Now corporations have the same right to drown out the free speech of others, thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court. I’ve already made a case for why justices Roberts and Alito ought to be impeached. Now you know why Bloomberg out to be sent to the woodshed, too.

Not that it’ll ever happen. Unless you start to make a lot of noise.