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Archive for the ‘democrats’ Category

I haven’t been 100% up on what was and wasn’t getting included in the Farm Bill as it made its way through Congress over the last year – but I read just now that today Pres. Bush vetoed the Farm Bill! And then the House overrode the veto! The Senate will begin consideration tomorrow, and according to the AP they’re expected to have enough votes to override as well.

Read Bush’s veto notice here, and the USDA support of the veto here.

NPR’s coverage highlights that the vetoed bill contained prosocial things like food aid for the poor, biofuel development, and incentive to let farmland lay fallow (this is prosocial because of its long term benefits to the land). Unsurprisingly, NPR’s take on things is different from the federal government’s. What IS surprising is that the issues the feds object to are totally easy to agree wtih. Bush’s and the UDSA’s statements cited subsidization of farmers with income over $15 million (?!!?! This figure comes from Bush’s statement – I don’t know where that number comes from); funding and authority for the noncompetitive sale of National Forest land to a ski resort; and a $170 million earmark for the salmon industry.

Here are the beginnings of my thoughts on the Farm Bill as it stands now (or, as the media is reporting that it stands now):

PRO: Cuts tax credit for corn-based ethanol (less sustainable of biobased fuels), and creates tax credit for cellulosic ethanol (more sustainable of biobased fuels).

 

PRO: Adds $10.4 billion over 10 years to nutrition programs, including food stamps and food pantry donations. 

CON: Well, not a con so much as a ‘that’s good, but you need more.’ As in, those are poverty mediation efforts, not poverty prevention/eradication efforts. But they’re necessary for the world we live in now.

 

PRO: Increases funding for land stewardship. Almost $30 billion, according to NPR. When food prices are so high, farmers have way more incentive to plant, and take advantage of the record prices. It takes $$ to encourage them NOT to plant. Not planting is important in safeguarding the longterm viability and quality of the soil.

 

CON: National reserve land gets turned into a ski resort!

 

PRO: The bill would deny all subsidies to people with more than $500,000 a year in off-farm income and bar “direct” payments to those with more than $750,000 a year in farm income.

CON: Is this stringent enough?

 

CON: This salmon farming business – wtf? Haven’t seen an explanation of that anywhere yet.

 

And yet… I’m confused! Is Bush trying to distract us with images of richy rich farmers raking it in, when really he wants higher corn-based ethanol rates for his buddies at high corn-producing outfits like Monsanto and Cargill? Or does he want to squeeze the nutrition and emergency food money out? And did the Dem’s in Congress really let these porky earmarks in at the last minute?  Or was Bush just feeling bored and ornery and wanted to use his veto power while he still could? All of the above?

With a 1700 page, $300 billion behemoth legislation like this it’s pretty safe to assume that no one has read it cover to cover. Shit gets snuck in at the last minute – who the fuck knows how. The legislators are so disassociated from the actual effects of their work that budget items and restrictions and tax credits get traded back and forth as though they were items of comparable value. 

drama Drama DRAMA!

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One of my favorite things about election time is the ceaseless stream of statistics that shoot out of every media orifice. I love statistics.

So on this glorious (kind of) and depressing (sweet, sweet Obama) morning, the New York Times offers a bevy of exit polling statistics which asked New Hampshire’s primary voters what they thought about a variety of topics. The questions were separated into Democrat and Republican and the answers were broken down by the respondent’s candidate of choice. Awesome!

This was the best question asked of the Democrats:

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Now see, this makes me sad for Hillary. Because, while she did technically win New Hampshire, in actuality, Bill Clinton won. And really, no one can compete with Bill Clinton. He’s our Reagan. (Oh man – that was my favorite thing to write of all time.) I don’t know if this is legal, but would it be possible for Bill to run as Hillary’s VP? Does anyone know if this violates the term limit rule?

Nevertheless, unless he can run as VP, I’m still reasonably certain we won’t actually have Bill running, and I’m satisfied that Obama supporters actually like Obama most. And while we all know that the 90s were a culturally superior era (for proof, see Britney then and now), I’m not sure that Bill Clinton could even make things better at this point. We need someone completely new to start repairing our bonds to the rest of the world.

On to the Republicans:

The thing that’s so great about New Hampshire, is that they’re all staunch libertarians. Let me just put it out there that I don’t like libertarians because their policies only work for the middle range of people in a society and cannot take into account the 25% at the high and low end of every statistical range. Also, I don’t think they understand the concept of a public good. Whatevs. So, libertarians, while ridiculous, are the only conservatives I even like at this point. Also, it makes for wholly un-extrapolatable (oy, sorry) data in terms of what other American Republicans are into. Check it out:

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Here are excellent examples of New Hampshire Republicans totally bucking two of the key foundations of modern Republicanism. Eighty-two percent of them believe that in some-to-all cases, abortion should be legal. This is probably better than the national average for Democrats (but don’t quote me on that). Libertarians believe this because, like traditional conservatives, they want the government all out of their shit, including their women’s uteri. Neo-conservatives, on the other hand, are all up in everyone’s shit, forcing their questionable Christian values on otherwise good, moral people.

And then, while the same-sex union issue isn’t quite as stark for the state’s Republicans as a whole (60% kind of-to-totally oppose), for the voters of the dude who actually won (McCain), they pretty much love themselves some unencumbered dude-on-dude marriage action.

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This one is just nice because I hate Bush so much, and apparently everyone but Romney’s bitches agrees with me.

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In an anticipated, but still disappointing compromise between Democrats and Republicans, the House passed the Employment Nondiscrimination Act that makes it illegal for an employer:

“to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise discriminate against any individual with respect to the compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment of the individual, because of such individual’s actual or perceived sexual orientation.”

While on its face this law might seem like a kind of civil rights triumph (certainly Nancy Pelosi believes so), omitted from this legislation is language that would protect employees on the basis of actual or perceived gender identity. The New York Times reports that Democrats initially included the language for gender protection in ENDA, but removed it to garner Republican support and the chance of Bush withholding his veto. ENDA also includes language that allows religious institutions a blanket exemption from the nondiscrimination policy.

Democrats insist that progress in this civil rights area must be incremental for change to happen at all, but fail to admit the unlikelihood that a protection for gender identity could ever be passed on it’s own without tying it in with a broad base of other protections. Comprehensive legislation that is deferred until all provisions can be included would force the Republicans to lose face on this legislation as many state governments and large corporations already incorporate these protections and support them for promoting justice and economic prosperity. Thankfully the Senate still has to introduce its own version of the legislation, which many hope will restore the gender identity provisions. If you are looking to volunteer with phone banks or otherwise help organize around this issue, there are two organizations active in or near Brooklyn who support Transgender inclusion in legislation.

The Audre Lorde Project:

5 South Oxford Street, Brooklyn, NY, 11217-1607
Phone: 718.596.0342 Fax: 718.596.1328

About the ALP:

The principles guiding the work and development of The Audre Lorde Project as a progressive organiztion seeking social justice are as follows:

Recognizing the full diversity of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two-Spirit, and Transgender (LGBTST) people of color, and our collective histories of struggle against discrimination and other forms of oppression, the Audre Lorde Project has been established to serve as a home base that LGBTST peoples of African / Black/ Caribbean, Arab, Asian & Pacific Islander, Latina/o, and Native/Indigenous descent can use to organize, support, and advocate for our diverse communites.

As such, ALP seeks to work with LGBTST people of color organizations and communities across differences of race/ethnicity, culture, gender, sexual orientation, age, ability, and life experiences (e.g. class, immigration status, HIV serostatus, health status, etc.) in order to develop and implement culturally specific and effective programs and services reflecting the needs of our communities.

Volunteer at the ALP:

Have you ever thought of getting involved with the Audre Lorde Project (ALP), but weren’t sure how to plug in? Are you looking for an opportunity to discuss and learn more about the critical issues facing the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans and Gender Non-Conforming (LGBTSTGNC) People of Color communities?

Then come by and help out on our new volunteer night! The second Tuesday of each month! This Tuesday, November 13th 6:30pm! Learn about opportunities to volunteer at ALP. Help create general information guides and fun safer sex kits. We’ll provide the food and fun. Metro Cards provided upon request.

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Center:

208 West 13th Street, New York, NY 10011
Phone: 212.620.7310 Fax: 212.924.2657

About the LGBT Center:

Established in 1983, the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender Community Center has grown to become the largest LGBT multi-service organization on the East Coast and second largest LGBT community center in the world. Every week, 6,000 people visit the Center, and more than 300 groups meet here. In addition, our myriad meeting rooms are booked months in advance, indicating the community is as hungry as ever for a place to call its own.

We provide groundbreaking social service, public policy, educational and cultural/recreational programs. We also serve as an incubator for grassroots groups that meet here. Indeed, we were the birthplace of organizations such as the AIDS activist group ACT UP and the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), the principal organization combating homophobia and stereotyping of gays in the media.

Volunteer at the LGBT Center:

An enriching, rewarding, and fun way to participate and to contribute to the community is to volunteer. Nothing takes place at the Center that does not require some level of volunteer energy and expertise. Volunteers fuel the Center’s engine by building community and family. Some come with specific knowledge, such as architects, bankers, lawyers, teachers, painters, parents, event planners and producers, activists, archivists, editors, photographers, and builders. Others come with patience, time, and the willingness to provide whatever support is necessary so long as it benefits the larger community. We, the Center, could not survive and could not serve the community without volunteers.

Sign up to be a volunteer here.

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As you may already know, it is election season! In this, the most exciting of electoral times, what can we, as Brooklynites, expect to pull the lever or flick the tab for (or against)?

On November 6, 2007 Brooklyn will (or will not) vote on:

Justice of the Supreme Court – 2nd Judicial District, Vote for 4

These justices will serve 14 year terms, or until they reach 70. They generally hear cases outside the authority of the lower courts such as civil matters beyond $25,000, divorce proceedings and criminal prosecutions of felonies.

Surrogate Judge

These courts handle cases involving the affairs of the deceased. Spooky! They, like the justices, serve 14 year terms or until they are 70.

Judge of the Civil Court – County-wide, Vote for 4

They serve 10 year terms and decide Small Claims and Housing Court. If you are considering withholding rent from your negligent landlords or your good-for-nothing tenants are refusing to pay just because of a few bits of asbestos and lead paint falling into their kitchen, look for these judges in Housing Court!

Member of the City Council – 40th Council District

40th District is Flatbush. The rest of the City Council is elected but a few districts across the city are having special elections to fill open seats. 40th District is voting to replace Yvette Clarke, who has gone on to become Congressional Representative for NY’s 11th District! Woo hoo! Flatbush Gardener mentions a candidate’s forum, but it’s hard to find any real info on their positions or differences.

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Map from Flatbush Gardener on flickr.

Judge of the Civil Court – 3rd Municipal Court District

Dem. Dawn Marie Jiminez runs uncontested.

Judge of the Civil Court – 5th Municipal Court District

The 5th Munipal District includes Bath Beach, Bay Ridge, Bensonhurst, Boro Park, Dyker Heights, Kensington, Sunset Park, Windsor Terrace.

This is the race to watch {especially if your (my) default is voting for a Dem. on a small-scale race you know nothing about}. In this one is Dem. and former Bklyn Councilman Noach Dear running as a disgraced non-practicing attorney who didn’t get approved by Brooklyn or NYC bar associations on his candidacy, versus Repub. Jim McCall. Read the NY Daily News story for more deets.

Judge of the Civil Court – 6th Municipal Court District

Dem. Katherine A. Levine runs uncontested.

Proposal Number 1, An Amendment

This amendment will allow the town (hamlet) of Raquette Lake to (continue to) access some water in Long Lake, which is in state forest land. I don’t think anyone’s really against this. Other than maybe some beavers and otters and stuff. Think of their adorable protests and paw-printed petitions!

Gotham Gazette has a teaser for their last minute voter guide, but it jumps to info on last September’s election! They have promised an up-to-date posting on Nov. 4th.

The pdf file from the NYS Board of Elections site that is supposed to list the candidates for these positions is mysteriously blank! A conveniently paid for oversight by a crooked campaign? Or a careless oversight on an election that no one except the schoolkids who get the day off cares about? You decide!

(By Googling some other stuff I found a proper copy of the list here.)

(A special shout out to Brooklyn Eagle for at least knowing some of the candidates names, and the League of Women Voters, whose brochure was the only complete list of seats up for election that I could find.)

(And finally, does anyone know where to find a listing of which municipal districts are which neighborhoods?)

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Regarding oneiroi’s recent post about Congress stepping aside and letting Bush quietly ream our democracy: MoveOn.org has created a petition that you can read and sign here. Go on record saying, “I’m outraged that Congress capitulated to President Bush and gave him more unchecked power to wiretap Americans without a warrant. I demand Congress act swiftly to reverse this reckless act.”

Because, seriously. Why the fuck did we elect democrats if this is what they’re doing with their time?

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When the Republicans lost their iron grip on all 3 branches of government, losing to the Democrats in both in the House and the Senate, many people sat around trying to figure out why. Was it the Iraq War? The fun & exciting sex scandals? The government’s role in warantless wiretapping, “torture”, and other dubious actions?

Congress took on the mission to prove themselves worthy of the seats they sat in, and started putting pressure against the war, promised to clean up the scandals, and started inquiring about some of those questionable activities. They put Gonzales on the stand and grilled him on the legality and constitutionality of things like the warrantless wiretapping. Congress expressed concern about how the Bush administration was administering a secretive program to wiretap people phones without oversight, as established by the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

These concerns were not really about the existence of the wiretapping, which has always happened, just that they’re not being approved by the proper authorities. The fact that they’ve gone this far to avoid judicial oversight is troubling, because the process was a breeze anyways. The court is already held secret from the public, and there can even be surveillance without a warrant as long as its reported within 72 hours. There is no delay to worry about. Even
then, from the program’s inception in 1978 at least until 2005, there have been four rejections out of 20,806 approved warrant requests. That’s .019% of all requests that were outright rejected.

In response to this concern over the legality of the program, the Democrat controlled congress approved of Bush’s ability to conduct these wiretaps without even this small piece of oversight. And even goes so far as to make it easier to get information from telephone companies, who before had occasionally resisted!

So…good job Democrats!

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