Saturday, September 28, 2013

President Obama's Weekly Address - September 28, 2013

Averting a Government Shutdown and Expanding Access to Affordable Healthcare

"If Congress doesn’t pass a budget by Monday – the end of the fiscal year – the government shuts down, along with many vital services the American people depend on. On Friday, the Senate passed a bill to keep the government open. But Republicans in the House have been more concerned with appeasing an extreme faction of their party than working to pass a budget that creates new jobs or strengthens the middle class. And in the next couple days, these Republicans will have to decide whether to join the Senate and keep the government open, or create a crisis that will hurt people for the sole purpose of advancing their ideological agenda... 
I will work with anyone who wants to have a serious conservation about our economic future. But I will not negotiate over Congress’ responsibility to pay the bills it has already racked up. I don’t know how to be more clear about this: no one gets to threaten the full faith and credit of the United States of America just to extract ideological concessions. No one gets to hurt our economy and millions of innocent people just because there are a couple laws you don’t like. It hasn’t been done in the past, and we’re not going to start doing it now."

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Please Help a Twitter Sister @Keepitcleva

Twitter, we have a sister, @keepitcleva, who could use some help. I know, I know. You have either been burned by someone on twitter or you've watched it happen with all the accompanying twitter drama. I sympathize with you, believe me. I was burned badly by a twitter "friend" and my poor judgment is the only excuse I can give. I'm still embarrassed by my experience. Having said that, I've also built some strong friendships with twitter friends beyond the confines of twitter. I'm only sharing this with you so you know that I know risks abound when you decide to help someone you don't know.

Cleva and I have been following each other for about 1 1/2 to 2 years, and in that time we've developed a friendship. We have never met one another, but we chat on the phone and text, tweet, and Facebook. Here's what I know about Cleva. She's a single mom with two kids, a nineteen-year-old son and a twelve-year-old daughter. She works for the county of Sacramento, CA and like most civil servants these days she’s not well paid.

For the past several months, Cleva has been tormented by young men living in the apartment below her. They regularly slam into the walls late at night and blast music well past the 10 p.m. curfew when the Sacramento noise ordinance goes into effect. Some nights they play the guitar and drums. Cleva has contacted the property manager and/or the property management company nearly 20 times by phone or in writing asking them to intervene. Each time her pleas for assistance have fallen on deaf ears.

She has called the police several times, but they’ve done nothing. On several occasions when she’s called the police, they’ve said they can’t send someone at that time. They then tell her to call back in an hour if the neighbors have not reduced the volume, and they may be able to send someone then. She has called back, but no one shows up to deal with the noise makers, in spite of California's noise law that prevents its citizens from being exposed to unsafe levels of noise.

She has asked the neighbors herself to turn down the music and been ignored. Her appeals for quiet have been met with defiance exhibited by louder music for longer periods nearly every night.  She and her daughter are both suffering exhaustion due to sleep deprivation. Her daughter’s school performance is also beginning to suffer. In addition, Cleva has been having anxiety attacks from months of dealing with this unnecessary stress and lack of sleep.
 Cleva no longer feels safe in her current apartment. A few weeks ago, a racist picture was taped next to the mailboxes, which was obviously aimed at her and her daughter, the only African-Americans in the apartment building. She pleaded with the property manager to deal with this, but he tore the picture down, threw it away and refused to do anymore.

Without anyone to advocate for her and enforce the state laws property owners, managers, and police are required by law to enforce, she realized she had no choice but to move as soon as possible. She does not have the money for an attorney nor the emotional wherewithal to wait several months for a hearing. And because this move was not something she’d been planning, she lacks the funds for the move and for a security deposit. Because of the animosity she’s gotten from both the property manager and property owner, she fears she may not get any of her deposit back.

Out of desperation she started apartment hunting. She has found a small townhouse to move into at the end of the month. She filled out an application and has been approved. She will have enough money to cover the first month’s rent, but she needs money for the security deposit and the moving truck/ supplies. Two of us have given her a small amount in order to hold the property, but she need help raising the rest of the money.

Just $5 or $10 from a number of you would probably raise enough money to cover the deposit and UHaul rental. Please consider helping out our twitter sister.

Donations can be made at Cleva's PayPal account:



P.S. A special thanks to @Ferallike for her assistance in writing this post.

Below is the last appeal to the apartment owner for help in stopping the harassment by her neighbors. 

 September 8, 2013

To: -----


 Re: Racist Poster and Continued Noise from Apt --

On Friday, September 5, at approximately 5 p.m., I  arrived home from work to see a flyer hanging on the fire extinguisher right next to the mail box. The flyer was impossible for me to miss.  I looked at the  flyer with the heading “Lost Dawg” and saw a picture of a black man, not a dog.  I am the only African American living in this building along with my 12-year-old daughter as management is well aware.  I was shocked to find that type of flyer hanging there. I was very offended and believe that the neighbors in apt - did this as an act of racial intimidation.   My daughter was deeply offended, and as a 12-yeas-old, she most certainly recognizes a racist act.

I called the manager to advise him of this incident, and he expressed no interest in dealing with this issue.  After I did some convincing, the manager came down and ripped the flyer down and tore it  into pieces and then threw the evidence in the trash.  This was a clear indication that management is not going to investigate this very dangerous behavior. I no longer feel my 12 year-old daughter is safe in this complex.

In addition to the new racist intimidation, the neighbors continue to be a nuisance with the noise.  My daughter informed me that the neighbors started blasting their music starting at 12:15 am on 9/8/13. which flooded my living room with noise.  She went to bed around 2 a.m. and the downstairs neighbors proceeded to bang on walls and move furniture causing all kinds of noise that prevented her from sleeping.  My young daughter deserves to have peace in her space as do I.   This has been a continued  issue that management is aware of, yet he has refused to deal with it. But I'm the one branded the trouble maker by standing up for my rights as a tenant. If my complaints had been taken seriously and acted upon, this would have been taken care of long ago, and you would not have heard another word from me. Instead it appears it's been easier to paint me as some sort of villain than confront the actual instigators.



President Obama's Weekly Address - September 21, 2013

Congress Must Act Now to Pass a Budget and Raise the Debt Ceiling

"...after five years spent digging out of crisis, the last thing we need is for Washington to manufacture another...
...This is important: raising the debt ceiling is not the same as approving more spending.  It lets us pay for what Congress already spent.  It doesn’t cost a dime, or add a penny to our deficit.  In fact, right now, our deficits are already falling at the fastest rate since the end of World War II.  And by the end of this year, we’ll have cut our deficits by more than half since I took office...

Democrats and some reasonable Republicans are willing to raise the debt ceiling and pass a sensible budget – one that cuts spending on what we don’t need so we can invest in what we do.  And I want to work with those Democrats and Republicans on a better bargain for the middle class. 
But there’s also a faction on the far right of the Republican party who’ve convinced their leadership to threaten a government shutdown if they can’t shut off the Affordable Care Act.  Some are actually willing to plunge America into default if they can’t defund the Affordable Care Act. 
Think about that.  They’d actually plunge this country back into recession – all to deny the basic security of health care to millions of Americans.
Well, that’s not happening.  And they know it’s not happening. 
The United States of America is not a deadbeat nation. We are a compassionate nation. We are the world’s bedrock investment. And doing anything to threaten that is the height of irresponsibility. That’s why I will not negotiate over the full faith and credit of the United States. I will not allow anyone to harm this country’s reputation, or threaten to inflict economic pain on millions of our own people, just to make an ideological point."

Thursday, September 12, 2013

The Partisan Divide Has Never Been Wider

There are two editorials in The Washington Post today. The liberal leaning Fareed Zakaria wrote "Obama on the path to success in Syria" while conservative leaning Michael Gerson titled his piece, "Obama's missteps in Syria lead to retreat." And so it goes.

The Grand Canyon-like chasm that divides along party lines would be laughable if it weren't so pathetically sad. And before I go any further, no, both sides don't do it. 

As Steve Benen notes:
"I suppose this is about the point at which some will suggest Democrats are equally guilty of playing politics with foreign policy and national security, but recent evidence points in the exact opposite direction. 
For much of the Bush/Cheney era, Democrats were, often to the chagrin of their base, willing to be constructive partners with Republicans -- large numbers of Democratic lawmakers voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq in large numbers; they backed the PATRIOT Act; and they approved a revised FISA law. Democrats could have simply said they opposed Bush/Cheney, and voted accordingly, but they took the notion of a 'loyal opposition' seriously. 
Likewise, if Democrats were reflexive partisans on questions like these, we'd also see Dem lawmakers lining up in droves to endorse President Obama's proposed intervention in Syria. Except, that's not happening, either."
The Republican Party has been co-opted by more than a handful of Tea Party politicians, some of them verifiably nuts, but the party goes along to get along for fear of being primaried from the right. Their Anti-Obama Doctrine has crippled the House of Representatives, slowed the Senate to a crawl and revealed their hypocrisy for all to see.

The situation/crisis in Syria is a perfect example in a microcosm. It was just a few weeks ago that you couldn't find a Republican worth his spit, or anyone on Fox News for that matter, who didn't call President Obama weak in his failure to act on the situation in Syria.
Rep. Peter King (R-New York):  “I just wish the president had laid this out better. I wish he'd quit backing away from his own red line," King said Sunday during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press." "And I wish he was more of a commander in chief than a community organizer."

King added he'd support a strike despite the President's lack of leadership. But that was before President Obama gave them what they were asking for. I don't know if King supports a strike now.

Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma): "It's more important now than ever that President Obama step up and exhibit the leadership required of the commander in chief. It's time he clearly articulate a plan to help stem the violence, lead the international community, and demonstrate to Assad that his barbaric actions have consequences."

That was Inhofe's stance before the President concurred. Now he's against a strike because "our military has no money left." ...Like that's ever stopped us before.

I can give you further examples of the amazing contortions the GOP is taking to oppose the White House now that there is a possibility they may be seen in broad daylight actually agreeing with anything President Obama has to offer, but it would just be a time-wasting exercise. 

Rep. Steve Israel (D-New York), said it best and called the GOP out:

“What has fascinated me more than anything is this,” said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel (D-N.Y.). “Does anyone truly believe that if Mitt Romney had been elected president and had asked House Republicans for exactly what President Obama is asking, that House Republicans would oppose it to the extent that they’re opposed to what President Obama wants? The level of hypocrisy is what amazes me.” 
“Let’s not be fooled. I don’t know of any credible analyst who believes that if Mitt Romney had been elected president and produced this same exact resolution that you would see the whip counts in the Republican caucus that you see today,” he added.
Does anyone seriously doubt Rep. Israel's question? Does anyone doubt that the Republican Party, since Mitch McConnell claimed that their top priority would be to see Obama be a one term president, has done absolutely nothing but obfuscate and obstruct?

The House just came back from a five week recess and has/had only nine working days before the deadline to pass new funding legislation by September 30th, or risk government shutdown. And what was first on their agenda? Figuring out a way to defund Obamacare - besides the fact that they've voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act FORTY times, and delaying a forty-first time by trying to toss it into the lap of the Senate - as if by some miracle it would pass, do they think the President would actually sign it?!

And I can do nothing but laugh in the face of those who actually blame President Obama for the partisan divide. To that faction of America, he may ultimately be the cause of it, but really, who is to blame? And why? I think we all know the answer to that one. 

And what does it say about those same people, and those in the right wing media, who now claim they're on the side of Vladimir Putin? Seriously. But it's President Obama who is to blame for the partisan divide.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

And The Winners of the New York City Mayoral Primaries Are...

... those who decided to actually vote.

A friend of mine wrote this on his Facebook status:
"The population of NYC was 8.2 million, as of 2011. 257,000 people voted for Bill DeBlasio. Assuming no runoff & a Democratic victory in the general, 3% of NYC decided our next mayor."
THREE PERCENT. Now I know that primary election turnouts have historically always been low, but there were five candidates running in the Democratic primary. Does anyone want their voice heard? A total of 599,035 as of this writing, voted in the Democratic primary. A pathetic 56,817 (and counting) voted in the Republican primary, and winner Joe Lhota received 29,909 of those votes.

Taking my friend's theory even further, if by some chance Lhota should win the general election (and hey, we haven't had a Democratic Mayor in New York City since NINETEEN-EIGHTY-FUCKING-NINE) then .3%, that's three-tenths of one percent, of New Yorkers will have decided the next mayor.

I'm appalled at the apathy at which the right to vote is taken for granted, whether it be local or federal elections, in this country. Every jingoistic person I come across speaks about our soldiers fighting for our "freedoms." Well, a part of those freedoms is having the right, the privilege to vote. I wonder how many fist-pumping-rah-rah-USA-Number-One New Yorkers voted yesterday?

Here's Craig Ferguson, a naturalized American citizen, back in September of 2008.

September 11th

Twelve Years Later

Has it already been twelve years?

I've written this before, but it bears repeating so that I will always remember where I was on September 11, 2001.

Written in June, 2009, after the death of Michael Jackson:
"I was the assistant production electrician for the Michael Jackson 30th Anniverasry Concert at Madison Square Garden. We worked for a solid week getting this rig together  - by solid, I mean 16 hour days - and the stars that performed that weekend included Usher, Ray Charles, Liza Minelli, Britney Spears and the rest of the Brothers Jackson. There were two concerts, one on Friday night and one on Monday night celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Michael Jackson and The Jackson Five. After the second concert we worked all night to load out the show and ended at about 10am... on the morning of September 11, 2001."
You can watch some of the concert video here. It's a little eery watching the crowd having so much fun and then thinking that less than twelve hours later, the feeling would be so different.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Dr. Jeckyll & Mr. Zimmerman

There will be a day, probably in the near future, where Stand Your Ground Against An Unarmed Youth hero George Zimmerman will kill another person. 

Since his acquittal of murdering Trayvon Martin, Zimmerman can't get out of his own way. For a while I wondered why? How could his continuing run ins with the law or playing good Samaritan constantly make the news? I suppose if you're minding your own business, you wouldn't constantly be in the spotlight. But if you're looking for trouble, trouble will find you.
"'He punched my dad in the nose my dad has a mark on the nose. I saw his glasses were on the floor,' Shellie Zimmerman said in the call. 'He then accosted my father then took my iPad out of my hands. He then smashed it and cut it with a pocketknife, and there is a Lake Mary city worker across the street that I believe saw all of it.' 
Shellie Zimmerman tells her father on the call to get behind a car. 'I don't know if he's going to start shooting at us or something,' she says in the call.

She said her father 'feels like he's going to have a heart attack.' She requested medical attention for her father, saying it looked as though his nose may be broken. 
'I don't know what he's capable of,' Shellie Zimmerman said in the call. 'I'm really scared.' 
Lake Mary police spokesman Zach Hudson tells the station police are 'trying to determine what exactly happened.'

No arrests have been made. The estranged husband and wife are blaming each other for starting the fight, police said, though Shellie Zimmerman has said she won't press charges." 
Shellie Zimmerman has said her husband has become arrogant and felt invincible since his acquittal, and has filed for divorce. She called 911 because she felt threatened by him, said Zimmerman punched her father and that he threatened them with a gun. But she's not pressing charges and she's backed off her initial 911 statements.

Who knows if she was being honest, overreacting due to an argument, or has Battered Wife Syndrome. But whatever the case, I have no doubt that George Zimmerman will continue to have "run ins" and confrontations. And I have no doubt he will kill again. He is a loose cannon and, providing his next victim is white, maybe justice will be served.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

President Obama's Weekly Address - September 7, 2013

Calling For Limited Military Action In Syria

"As the leader of the world’s oldest Constitutional democracy, I also know that our country will be stronger if we act together, and our actions will be more effective. That’s why I asked Members of Congress to debate this issue and vote on authorizing the use of force.  
What we’re talking about is not an open-ended intervention. This would not be another Iraq or Afghanistan. There would be no American boots on the ground. Any action we take would be limited, both in time and scope – designed to deter the Syrian government from gassing its own people again and degrade its ability to do so. 
I know that the American people are weary after a decade of war, even as the war in Iraq has ended, and the war in Afghanistan is winding down. That’s why we’re not putting our troops in the middle of somebody else’s war. 
But we are the United States of America. We cannot turn a blind eye to images like the ones we’ve seen out of Syria. Failing to respond to this outrageous attack would increase the risk that chemical weapons could be used again; that they would fall into the hands of terrorists who might use them against us, and it would send a horrible signal to other nations that there would be no consequences for their use of these weapons. All of which would pose a serious threat to our national security."