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Harold Ford’s gay marriage reversal is a bad omen

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Writing of Harold Ford in the past, I have made snarky references to the fundamentalist end times theology in the book of Revelations about the Antichrist and the Omen trilogy of horror films. I make no apology because the evil that the corporate whore from Tennessee represents cannot be understated by my use of a provocative rhetorical device.

That said, I think if somebody were to check underneath Harold’s fade, I sincerely believe you’d find a 666 birthmark in the back of his head. The way Harold has effortlessly revived his political career in the most cutthroat place imaginable and become a contender for New York Senate seat is, to be frank, fu*#ing scary. He pushed up and outmaneuvered the top dog in New York politics, Chuck Schumer, like a seasoned ward heeler.

The last several months of maneuvering reads like the script from the Omen. To review, the son of Satan is “born” to an influential political family and the minions of the devil eliminate all obstacles and kill off all people that seek to thwart his rise to the presidency and his eventual dominion over the earth.

Yesterday’s nakedly political and deeply disingenuous reversal on Same Sex Marriage is just further evidence that Harold Ford Jr is a congenital liar that will say or do anything to beat Kirsten Gillibrand’s political career to death.

In October of 2006, right in the middle of his fevered Tennessee Senate Race, the New Jersey Supreme Court ruled unanimously that gay unions had to be recognized under the state’s constitution. A majority of the court left it up to the legislature to design what shape the recognition would take. After the decision was announced, Harold Ford Jr released the following statement:

I do not support the decision today reached by the New Jersey Supreme Court regarding gay marriage. I oppose gay marriage, and have voted twice in Congress to amend the United States Constitution to prohibit same-sex marriage. This November there’s a referendum on the Tennessee ballot to ban same-sex marriage – I am voting for it.

Harold’s position, as wrong as two left shoes, was unequivocal. Gillibrand’s people have done some good work in poisoning the well against Harold because of his positions on choice and same sex marriage. He finally responded. On the Today Show the demonic spawn said, “My support for fairness and equality existed long before I moved to New York.”

Bull*hit

He continued spinning the lie after being asked if this was a major change. He said, “Maybe in the language.” “…But I’m a believer that benefits should flow to same sex partners and if indeed the fiction of the language, the title, should be changed, much like Chuck Schumer who changed his mind on it and Bill Clinton’s evolved, I’m of the opinion now that nothing is wrong with that.”

The following clip must be seen to be believed. It puts to bed any notion of Harold’s veracity.

The Whore must defeat NY Senator Kirsten Gillibrand because she stands in the way of Harold’s nefarious designs on the seat of ultimate power. Moreover, he is running to put himself into a position to one day become President.

Everything seems to be falling into place in the complicated chess game that is New York identity politics.

Last week, according to the New York Times, Al Sharpton and Ford, “chatted warmly for about 10 minutes. Mr. Sharpton did not seek to discourage Mr. Ford from running, and recommended that he begin to reach out to the state’s black leaders and clergy.”

They end the article by telling us, “Mr. Ford will be the keynote speaker next month at the conference of the state’s Association of Black and Puerto Rican Legislators.” And that the organization’s leader believes Harold will encounter a “receptive” audience as he debuts before the state’s Black and Latino establishment.

Taken together, these developments are a bad omen indeed.

Harold Ford Jr: Rotten Apple

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The “news” broke yesterday that former Tennessee Congressman Harold Ford Jr’s three year effort to revive his flagging political career in the cesspool of New York politics has borne rotten fruit.  Since leaving the congress, Ford has kept busy with a few media gig’s on Fox News and MSNBC as a “political analyst,” Chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council, and most important, a corporate executive at Bank of America Merrill Lynch—a bank that acquired the largest predatory lender, Countrywide. These corporate entanglements coupled with his unabashed support of estate tax repeal for the wealthiest among us make it clear to all sentient beings that Harold Ford Jr is nothing but a shameless corporate whore with an insatiable lust for power.

The day began with an appearance on “Morning Joe,” MSNBC’s corporate sponsored Salon of establishment propaganda. The Whore played coy as Mika and Joe held forth on the NY Times story detailing Harold’s courtesan seduction of powerful and prominent Jewish fundraisers and corporate heavyweights in an effort to line up enough cash to mount a serious primary challenge to Hillary Clinton’s designated successor, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

The Whore even got Mayor Michael Bloomberg to say he would “take a look” at supporting him.  Y’all can believe what you want to believe, but the Whore is serious about this sh*t.  In one fell swoop, he has damn near neutralized Chuck Schumer, a man not to be trifled with.

Schumer considers himself the godfather of New York Politics and certainly the top Jewish pol. When he couldn’t control Mayor Bloomberg, he put his wife, Iris Weinshall, in his administration as one of Bloomberg’s commissioners.  Former Governor Spitzer was Schumer’s top rival  and his downfall in a tawdry sex scandal was relished with glee.  Harold is playing this political game of chess like Bobby Fischer.

All of this inside baseball is important considering his unmistakable fingerprints in clearing the field for Gillibrand.  As a former Senate Campaign Committee Chair, Schumer modis operandi is to clear the field for his favorites and to dry up the money for their opponents. Threats are exchanged and favors extended. It always worked.  It worked for Gillibrand up until now. Steve Israel and Carolyn Maloney dropped their bids after being passed over for appointment after being threatened by the White House at the behest of Schumer.

But after looking at the love in these two men’s eye’s, I seriously doubt whether a call from the White House will be forthcoming this time.

Senator Caroline Kennedy

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GET FILES-FRANCE-US-KENNEDY

I find it ironic and disengenuous that the Hillarycrat detractors of Caroline Kennedy, a New York resident for over four decades, would have the temerity to suggest that the Harvard University educated author, lawyer, and philanthropist lacks the necessary qualifications  to represent New York State in the United States Senate.   Ms. Kennedy has always been a dignified, understated and classy mover and shaker that has used her celebrity,  talent, and money to help other people.   Politically, nobody could beat her under any circumstances.   She can raise the money and would maintain the current number of women in the senate, which is already too few. Where the hell were these people when Hillary decided to accept the phony draft of New Yorkers to run for the Senate in a state she had never lived in?  Caroline Kennedy has been a New Yorker longer than the Queen of Triangulation has been a blond.   I am relieved that she has decided to throw her hat in the ring.   If David Paterson is smart, he’ll appoint Caroline without any more deliberation and secure his re-election at the same time.


			

Officers in Sean Bell case acquitted

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Hat Tip: By Michael Wilson, NY Times

Three detectives were found not guilty Friday on all charges in the shooting death of Sean Bell, who died in a hail of 50 police bullets outside a club in Jamaica, Queens, in November 2006. The verdict prompted calls for calm from the mayor, angry promises of protests by those speaking for the Bell family and expressions of relief by the detectives.

Detective Michael Oliver, who fired 31 bullets the night of the shooting and faced manslaughter charges, said Justice Arthur J. Cooperman had made a “fair and just decision.”

Justice Cooperman delivered the verdict in State Supreme Court at 9 a.m. Giving his reasoning, he said many of the prosecution’s witnesses, including Mr. Bell’s friends and the two wounded victims, were simply not believable. “At times, the testimony of those witnesses just didn’t make sense,” the judge said.

Several supporters of Mr. Bell stormed out of the courtroom, and a few small scuffles followed outside the courthouse. By midafternoon, there were no suggestions of any broader unrest around the city. Mr. Bell’s family and fiancée left without making any comments and drove to visit his grave at the Nassau Knolls Cemetery and Memorial Park in Port Washington.

The verdict comes 17 months to the day since the Nov. 25, 2006, shooting of Mr. Bell, 23, and his friends, Joseph Guzman and Trent Benefield, outside the Club Kalua in Jamaica, Queens, hours before Mr. Bell was to be married.

It was delivered in a packed courtroom. Mr. Bell’s family sat silently as Justice Cooperman spoke from the bench. Behind them, a woman was heard to ask, “Did he just say, ‘Not guilty?’ ” Detective Oliver and the two other defendants, Detectives Gescard F. Isnora and Marc Cooper, were escorted out a side doorway as court adjourned.

The acquittals do not necessarily mean the officers’ legal battles are over. Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said the three men could still face disciplinary action from the Police Department, but that he had been asked to wait on any internal measures until the United States attorney’s office determines whether or not it would pursue federal charges against them.

The seven-week trial, which ended on April 14, was heard by Justice Cooperman after the defendants waived their right to a jury, a strategy some lawyers called risky at the time. But it clearly paid off.

Before rendering his verdict, Justice Cooperman ran through a narrative of the chilly November evening when Mr. Bell died, and concluded “the police response with respect to each defendant was not found to be criminal.”

“The people have not proved beyond a reasonable doubt” that each defendant was not justified in shooting, the judge said, quickly adding that the men were not guilty of all of the eight counts, five felonies and three misdemeanors against them.

Roughly 30 court officers stood by, around the courtroom and in the aisles. At one point as he read, Justice Cooperman paused to insist that a crying baby be taken from the courtroom. Immediately a young woman who appeared to be among the Bell contingent got up and left with a baby.

The Rev. Al Sharpton accompanied Bell family members to the cemetery, and said later that they will join him on Saturday at a rally protesting the verdict. He said he had spoken to the governor and the mayor, and that he believed a federal civil rights prosecution of the officers would be appropriate.

“This verdict is one round down, but the fight is far from over,” Mr. Sharpton said.

He promised protests “to demonstrate to the federal government that New Yorkers will not take this abortion of justice lying down.” He even raised the possibility of taking protests directly to Justice Cooperman’s home.

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg called for calm. “There are no winners in a trial like this,” he said. “An innocent man lost his life, a bride lost her groom, two daughters lost their father and a mother and a father lost their son.”

The mayor continued: “Judge Cooperman’s responsibility, however, was to decide the case based on the evidence presented in the courtroom. America is a nation of laws, and though not everyone will agree with the verdicts and opinions issued by the courts, we accept their authority.”

He added: “There will be opportunities for peaceful dissent and potentially for further legal recourse — those are the rights we enjoy in a democratic nation. We don’t expect violence or law-breaking, nor is there any place for it.”

A subdued Queens district attorney, Richard A. Brown, whose office prosecuted the case, said at a news conference: “Judge Cooperman discharged his responsibilities fairly and consciously under the law. I accept his verdict, and I urge all fair-minded individuals in this city to do the same.”

Commissioner Kelly, speaking in Brooklyn, would not comment on the verdict itself. But he did say that while there were no reports of unrest in response to the acquittals, the Police Department was ready should it occur.

“We have prepared, we have done some drills and some practice with appropriate units and personnel if there is any violence, but again, we don’t anticipate violence,” Mr. Kelly said. “There have been no problems. Obviously there will be some people who are disappointed with the verdict. We understand that.”

Detectives Isnora and Oliver had faced the most charges: first- and second-degree manslaughter, with a possible sentence of 25 years in prison; felony assault, first and second degree; and a misdemeanor, reckless endangerment, with a possible one-year sentence. Detective Oliver also faced a second count of first-degree assault. Detective Cooper was charged only with two counts of reckless endangerment.

All three of the detectives, none of whom took the stand during the trial, spoke at the offices of their union on Friday afternoon. “I’ve just started my life back,” Detective Cooper said.

During the 26 days of testimony, the prosecution sought to show, with an array of 50 witnesses, that the shooting was the act of a frightened group of disorganized police officers who began their shift that night hoping to arrest a prostitute or two and, in suspecting Mr. Bell and his friends of possessing a gun, quickly got in over their heads.

“We ask police to risk their lives to protect ours,” said an assistant district attorney, Charles A. Testagrossa, in his closing arguments. “Not to risk our lives to protect their own.”

The defense, through weeks of often heated cross-examinations, their own witnesses and the words of the detectives themselves, portrayed the shooting as the tragic end to a nonetheless justified confrontation, with Detective Isnora having what it called solid reasons to believe he was the only thing standing between Mr. Bell’s car and a drive-by shooting around the corner.

Several witnesses testified that they heard talk of guns in an argument between Mr. Bell and a stranger, Fabio Coicou, outside Kalua, an argument, the defense claimed, that was fueled by bravado and Mr. Bell’s intoxicated state. Defense lawyers pointed their fingers at Mr. Guzman, who, they said, in shouting for Mr. Bell to drive away when Detective Isnora approached, may have instigated his death.

Noose found on Columbia University Professor’s Door

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Madonna Constantine

Hat Tip: By Adam Goldman, Associated Press

Investigators on Wednesday were looking into whether a noose hanging from the door of a black professor at Columbia University was the work of disgruntled students or even a fellow professor.

A police official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because details of the investigation have not been made public, stressed that investigators were looking into a variety of possibilities. One is that the noose was placed on Madonna Constantine’s door by another professor with whom she was having a dispute at the university’s Teachers College, the police official said.

The discovery of the noose, found Tuesday, has roiled the Ivy League campus, prompting plans for a protest rally and a meeting for upset students and faculty.

“This is an assault on African Americans and therefore it is an assault on every one of us,” university President Lee C. Bollinger said in a statement. “I know I speak on behalf of every member of our communities in condemning this horrible action.”

Columbia planned a town hall meeting Wednesday afternoon for faculty and students to address the incident.

Derald Wing Sue, an adjunct professor at the Teachers College who does research with Constantine, said he was at work Tuesday morning when another colleague spotted the noose hanging on Constantine’s door. She wasn’t in her office at the time.

Constantine has written about race, including a book entitled “Addressing Racism: Facilitating Cultural Competence in Mental Health and Educational Settings.” Students said Constantine teaches a class on racial justice.

“Clearly, it was a symbolic act of racial hatred that was intended to intimidate,” Sue said. “I felt outraged and angry that this was directed at such a close colleague and friend of mine.”

Sue said he informed Constantine about the noose and she was devastated.

“She’s doing fine,” he said “She’s OK. I’ve talked to her. She’s getting a lot of support.”

An e-mail to Constantine was not immediately returned Wednesday, nor were calls to the publicist for Teachers College and Constantine’s office.

As word of the incident spread, students and faculty reacted with sadness and anger.

“It’s hard hearing about it,” Danielle Green, a black student, said Wednesday. “I’m not uncomfortable here but I’m not surprised. I mean, look at the world we live in. There is a lot of racism going on.”

In the message to the college’s 5,000 students and 150 faculty members explaining why police were on campus Tuesday, college president Susan H. Fuhrman said: “The Teachers College community and I deplore this hateful act, which violates every Teachers College and societal norm.”

“You would think, Columbia being such a diverse campus and New York being such a diverse city, it shouldn’t happen here,” said student Mikayla Graham.

Teachers College, founded in 1887, describes itself as the nation’s oldest and largest graduate school of education.

According to its Web page, the college brought black teachers from the South to New York for training in the early part of the 20th century, when schools in the South were segregated.

The college has a diverse student body, including students from nearly 80 countries. The racial breakdown is 12 percent black, 11 percent Asian American and 7 percent Hispanic.

The discovery of the hangman’s noose echoes other recent incidents involving the symbol reviled by many for its association with lynchings in the Old South.

Last year in Jena, La., three white students hung nooses from a big oak tree outside Jena High School. They were suspended but not prosecuted.

Racial tensions rose and a white student was beaten unconscious three months later. Recently, thousands of people protested the arrests of six black students in the incident.

Columbia has been the site of other campus turmoil, most recently last month when Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was invited to speak, prompting protests by groups angry over his statements questioning the existence of the Holocaust.

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Bloomberg bows out

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 Michael Bloomberg Takes Press Questions at The Commonwealth Club of California

 Hat Tip: By Rachel Capochunas, CQ Politics

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg issued a definitive-sounding denial that he will run for president in 2008 during an interview with television newsman Dan Rather taped for airing on the HDNet cable network Tuesday night.

And Bloomberg, according to a partial transcript provided to CQPolitics by HDNet, is outdoing even the famed non-candidacy announcement of 19th century Republican William Tecumseh Sherman.

When the Civil War general made his “Shermanesque” statement rejecting entreaties that he run for the 1884 GOP nomination, he acknowledged the possibility that he might win, stating that he would not serve if elected. Bloomberg, on the other hand, tells Rather that “nobody’s going to elect me president of the United States.”

This is not a matter, according to the transcript, of self-doubt on Bloomberg’s part. Instead, the longtime Democrat who won for mayor in 2001 and 2005 as a Republican moderate and then switched again this June to independent contends that his willingness to take politically contrary views would limit his appeal as a national candidate.

Bloomberg stressed that his beliefs are not “tailored to what is politically popular.” continuing, “I believe that certain things and if somebody asks me where I stand, I tell them. And that’s not a way to get elected generally.”

The comments came after Rather raised the speculation that Bloomberg, a billionaire media magnate, might stage an independent presidential bid — a topic that has drawn intensified interest since Bloomberg, who holds strongly liberal views on most social issues, quit the Republican Party earlier this year.

When asked by the former longtime CBS Evening News anchorman if he would run, Bloomberg first simply stated “no.” When Rather pressed further, asking if there were any circumstances under which Bloomberg would run for president, Bloomberg first responded that he didn’t know, then added, “If I don’t say ‘no’ categorically, you’ll then read something into it. The answer is no.”

Campaign Mailbag: Giuliani again reaches out to wingnut America

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RUDY GIULIANI


Dear Wingnut,

I believe in solving problems through intimidation-not weakness-from hubris, not vacillation.

I’ve seen the everyday racism and homophobia of Americans across our country. I’ve seen people create political careers from nothing-using nothing more than the inherent fear white folks have of colored folks. I’ve witnessed how well it always works and have good reason to peddle the white fantasy that anybody can grow up to be President. In America, we love to congratulate ourselves for our openness to diversity while simultaneously asserting white privilege.

I am running for President because when I look to the future, I see a fascist police state where Americans are confident that their President is in rigid control of the country.

When I was first elected Mayor, we looked at the places where the City, or bureaucracy, or racial liberalism, were taking away people’s white pride. We cracked down and focused our sights—we took the bull by the horns.

Wages, hard work and ingenuity were overtaxed and overregulated. Too many white people felt like they couldn’t get ahead if they allowed black folks a level playing field and played by the rules. So we took decisive steps to dramatically slash social services and cut the N****** off welfare.

When I was elected Mayor, half the blacks were on welfare clogging up the system and sucking decent taxpayers dry. Therefore, we took on the state-sponsored liberal welfare state bullshit and turned “Welfare Offices” into “Job Centers” that became an Orwellian nightmare only a fascist could love.

We were successful because we refused to define deviancy down-instead we raised expectations and told the lazy ass blacks to get a damn job. We frustrated legitimate job seekers and people eligible for assistance and took on the black groups in the spirit of my mayoral campaign slogan, “one city, one fascist dictatorship.”

I’m writing you because you are some loon on a right-wing mailing list the campaign bought. You fancy yourself influential in your community and give to various and sundry right-wing causes and candidates. You know what they say, “A fool and his money are soon parted.” It would be great if you could be parted with a gift of $ 1,000, $500, $250, $100, $50, or even $25 bucks. If you could send it today, our grassroots hand holding and pacification of the troglodyte right can begin immediately.

We stand at one of he most crucial points in the history of the campaign-I got Fred Thompson breathing down my neck and I NEED YOUR SUPPORT.

Like you, I believe that Ronald Reagan was the greatest thing since sliced bread and that we must look toward the future to reassert our core values of hate, fear, racial polarization, respect for law and order, and a commitment to scaring the bejesus out of stupid people about Arab ragheads out to get us at home and around the world.

And while we know damn well that the bullshit in Baghdad and Afghanistan ain’t going well, I need to fill your stupid head up with ridiculous rhetoric about victory so that I can win your vote and the nomination.

This campaign is about strong, fascist leadership. When I took office in New York, people were afraid of criminal blacks and felt like they were losing control of their own lives. Drawing upon the “Broke Negroes” theory of policing, we cracked down on the quality-of-life-crimes such as walking, driving, and just plain being-while black. We cleaned the riff-raff out of Times Square so that wholesome white families from Nebraska could feel safe visiting the Big Apple.

To usher in an era of dictatorship based on our shared right-wing fascist Republican values, we must win this race for the White House so that I can uphold our priorities and demand accountability.

We will impose discipline on the budget by kicking the blacks and Hispanics off welfare. By doing so, we will reclaim our Reagan tradition as the party that understands the importance of hostility to minorities wins elections.

At the core of our approach to reform is the basic concept of white supremacy.

I believe that every parent should have the ability to send their child to the all-white school of their choice, be it public, private, or parochial.

We cannot be discouraged or cynical in the wake of our Party’s disastrous midterm F-up’s. For the Republican Party to win the presidency in 2008 and take back the majority in Congress, we must wholeheartedly embrace our core principles-or simply steal it again.

From the first Republican President, Abraham Lincoln, to Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, our party’s greatest contribution is to expanding the wealth of the top 1% and keeping the blacks and Hispanics down in this land and around the world.

When I say we should reduce taxes on the rich to stimulate the economy, I say it to slavishly appeal to the anti-tax nutcases and government phobic wingnuts that get off on that bullshit and will vote for me. It worked in New York because I did it and saw it work like a charm.

As Mayor, I stood up to the politics-as-usual agenda, held fast to my unprincipled demagoguery, and proved that:

  1. Tax relief creates more wealth for the rich and leaves the rest behind.
  2. Picking fights with a cartoonish clown like Al Sharpton was good for my approval ratings.
  3. Shooting an unarmed black man 41 times because the NYPD have a vague sense that he might have committed a crime is a public relations bonanza and an opportunity to pander to the basest elements of the white electorate.

Our party is at its best when it connects to the primal racial fears of the white populace.

At a time of war and danger, the Republican Party must nominate a proven demagogue. At a time when Americans want to feel confirmed in their desire for white privilege, the Republican Party must boldly lead in this direction. Being a stubborn prick with strong beliefs and the arrogance to stick with them through unpopular times is an essential characteristic of our next president.

I’ve been tested, after all, I was the gigantic asshole that brazenly flaunted my whore in public and then announced the dissolution of my marriage in a televised press conference before I asked my wife for a divorce to her face. If y’all can let me get away that bullshit and still take me seriously, I deserve the Republican nomination for President.

Sincerely,

Rudy Giuliani

Campaign Mailbag: Rudy’s 12 commitments

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12 CommitmentsDear Wingnut,

I’m running for President of the United States based on the fear and hate I can offer the American people. When I was the Mayor of New York, the city was in a crime crisis, a budget crisis and a financial crisis. When I left office, we had turned the city into a boiling cauldron of racial division and economic stratification.

Many of the things I did as Mayor of New York City are irrelevant to what America needs now. That’s why today I announced my 12 commitments to you, the American people. These commitments are intended to lift my megalomaniacal ass into the White House.

My 12 commitments to the American people are:

  1. I will shamelessly exploit the fear of terrorism and tragedy of 9/11
  2. I will shamelessly exploit the fear of terrorism and tragedy of 9/11
  3. I will shamelessly exploit the fear of terrorism and tragedy of 9/11
  4. I will shamelessly exploit the fear of terrorism and tragedy of 9/11
  5. I will shamelessly exploit the fear of terrorism and tragedy of 9/11
  6. I will shamelessly exploit the fear of terrorism and tragedy of 9/11
  7. I will shamelessly exploit the fear of terrorism and tragedy of 9/11
  8. I will shamelessly exploit the fear of terrorism and tragedy of 9/11
  9. I will shamelessly exploit the fear of terrorism and tragedy of 9/11
  10. I will shamelessly exploit the fear of terrorism and tragedy of 9/11
  11. I will shamelessly exploit the fear of terrorism and tragedy of 9/11
  12. I will shamelessly exploit the fear of terrorism and tragedy of 9/11

My focus – as it was when I ran for Mayor – is on the accumulation of unlimited power. Because real leadership is focused on handing our nation to the next white generation far more right-wing than it was when handed to us. Today, I’m asking you and all of my fellow White Americans to join me in this mission. Will you go to my website, JoinRudy2008.com, to sign my petition and show your support? I also ask that you forward this to 12 of your most right-wing, knuckle dragging friends and get them to sign it as well.

Nothing polarizes a government and a people better than a racist control freak that challenges it to deform, change and regress. I can divide this nation in ways nobody thinks is possible and can’t be accomplished. I did it as Mayor of New York City, and I can do it again in Washington.

It’s a hard job and I can’t do it alone. Will you join me? Please visit JoinRudy2008.com and sign my petition to show your support. Please ask 12 of your scariest wingnut friends to sign on as well. Together, we can destroy constitutional government forever.

If I am elected President, I want to establish a fascist police state. That is the kind of leadership I am offering. And that is why I am running for President.

Sincerely,

Giuliani Sig

Breaking News: Bloomberg leaves GOP

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HAT TIP: rikyrah, NY Times by Adam Nagourney

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced tonight that he is quitting the Republican party and changing his affiliation to independent.

The announcement came after Mr. Bloomberg gave a speech denouncing partisan gridlock in Washington, stirring renewed speculation that he is preparing to run as an independent or third-party candidate in 2008.

“I have filed papers with the New York City Board of Elections to change my status as a voter and register as unaffiliated with any political party,” he said in a statement issued while he was in California delivering political speeches. “Although my plans for the future haven t changed, I believe this brings my affiliation into alignment with how I have led and will continue to lead our city.” The full text of his announcement is on the new City Room blog.

Mr. Bloomberg is a former Democrat who won the New York City mayoralty in 2001 running as Republican. The mayor, who cannot seek a third term, has said he had no plans to run for president, but has declined to shut the door completely on a White House bid.

“We have achieved real progress by overcoming the partisanship that too often puts narrow interests above the common good. As a political independent, I will continue to work with those in all political parties to find common ground, to put partisanship aside and to achieve real solutions to the challenges we face,” he said.

“Any successful elected executive knows that real results are more important than partisan battles and that good ideas should take precedence over rigid adherence to any particular political ideology. Working together, there s no limit to what we can do.’’

Mr. Bloomberg announced his decision after a campaign-style swing through California in which he gave a series of speeches that clearly previewed what aides have long said would be the thematic underpinnings of a Bloomberg presidential campaign, should he decide to run.

He presented himself as an antidote to partisan gridlock in Washington, suggesting that not withstanding his party affiliation, he had brought non-partisan government to New York.

“When you go to Washington these days, you can feel a sense of fear in the air, the fear to do anything or say anything that might affect the polls or give the other side the advantage or offend a special interest group,’’ Mr. Bloomberg said. “The federal government isn’t out front – it’s cowering in the back of the room.’’

Should Mr. Bloomberg end up not running for president or any other office, the announcement could become an interesting footnote to one of the more unusual mayoralties in a city that has produced a series of memorable mayors.

However, it was immediately viewed – by many of his prospective rivals – as presenting a major jolt to the presidential campaign. Mr. Bloomberg has a huge personal fortune and has never shown any reluctance to used it on advancing his career: He spent $150 million on his two bids for mayor. He would have no problem financing his own campaign.

What is more, Mr. Bloomberg has arguably at least as strong a claim on the prosperity that New York City has enjoyed as his predecessor, Rudolph W. Giuliani, who is seeking the Republican nomination. If Mr. Bloomberg decides to run as an independent or third-party candidate, he might find that he enjoys the benefits of New York City successes without the ideological burdens Mr. Giuliani has faced in trying to win the Republican nomination while being identified with such positions as supporting abortion, gay rights and gun control.

That said, several analysts have argued that a third-party candidacy by Mr. Bloomberg could be a problem for the Democratic Party. Until he ran for mayor, Mr. Bloomberg was a lifetime Democrat, and his success in New York reflected his ability to draw Democratic votes.

Should he enter the race, that would mean that there would be three major New York figures seeking the presidency this year.

Mr. Bloomberg’s trip to California came in a week when he was on the cover of Time Magazine and stood by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, a Republican who like Mr. Bloomberg has proven successful in appealing for Democratic support, told a crowd of reporters that he should run for president.

Mr. Bloomberg, while in California, told an audience of Google employees that the country is “really in trouble” and used caustic language in describing what he said was timidity in Washington, contrasting that with his own approach to running New York City.

In his speech, he laid out what he said were the cornerstones of nonpartisan leadership – independence, honesty, common sense, innovation, teamwork and accountability. Mr. Bloomberg promoted his approach as mayor to issues like education, crime prevention and health care in putting those principals into practice.

“None of the initiatives we’ve undertaken are owned by the Republican or Democratic Party,” Mr. Bloomberg said. “They were built on the values of nonpartisan leadership, and they paid off.”

This is the biggest bombshell of the day and represents a significant milestone for the 2008 race.  A Bloomberg candidacy changes everything for Hillary and seriously imperils her candidacy. 

Bloomberg has serious appeal to independent voters and could tip the scales to the eventual GOP nominee.

Obama kisses Sharpton’s ring

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By BETH FOUHY 

NEW YORK (AP) – Wooing black voters while tackling questions about his experience, Democrat Barack Obama said Saturday that his years as a community organizer and accomplishments in the Illinois state Senate have prepared him well for the presidency.  

Addressing the National Action Network, a civil rights group founded by Rev. Al Sharpton, Obama touted his successes as an Illinois lawmaker in providing health insurance to children and reducing the price of prescription drugs for senior citizens. He also told of passing legislation to monitor racial profiling and to require that police interrogations of suspects in capital cases be videotaped.“I haven’t just talked about these things, I’ve actually done them,” he said, adding that he’d worked well with the Republicans who controlled the state Senate for most of his tenure there.

With just over two years in the U.S. Senate, Obama has faced questions over whether he has sufficient experience to be president.

On the campaign trail, front-runner Hillary Rodham Clinton stresses her long career in public life and often warns voters that the next president will need to “hit the ground running.”

Sharpton, who ran for the Democratic nomination in 2004, has also openly questioned Obama’s credentials for the job. Obama, running to be the first black president, acknowledged those concerns. He also assured the largely black audience he did not believe he was automatically entitled to their support.

“I’ve said to Rev. Sharpton and I’ll say it today, if there is somebody – I don’t care whether they are white or black or they are male or female – if there is somebody who has been more on the forefront on behalf of the issues you care about and has more concrete accomplishments on behalf of the things you’re concerned about, I’m happy to see you endorse them. But I am absolutely confident you will not find that,” he said.

With black voters a key part of the Democratic party base, the four-day NAN convention has attracted nearly all the 2008 Democratic contenders, as well as former President Bill Clinton and DNC Chairman Howard Dean. Connecticut Sen. Chris Dodd had been expected to speak but scheduling problems forced him to cancel.

A spokeswoman said Sharpton was not expected to endorse a candidate soon.

Hillary Clinton, who spoke Friday, won several standing ovations from the audience.

Officers indicted in Sean Bell case

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Hat tip NY Times

NEW YORK (AP) — A grand jury Friday indicted at least three of the five police officers whose 50-shot barrage killed an unarmed man on his wedding day, lawyers for the officers said. It was not immediately disclosed if the other officers were also charged.

Attorneys for officers Marc Cooper, Gerscard Isnora and Michael Oliver said their clients had been indicted, but they did not know what offenses the officers had been charged with.

The three officers fired the most shots — Cooper, 4, Isnora, 11, and Oliver, 31 — in the Nov. 25 confrontation that killed 23-year-old Sean Bell and wounded two of his friends.

Isnora, 28, was ”very upset,” attorney Philip Karasyk said. ”But he is confident that once he has his day in court he will be vindicated.”

The shooting stirred outrage around New York City and led to accusations of racism against police. Bell was black, as are two of his friends who were wounded in the shooting. Two of the officers are white, and three are black.

The grand jury’s decision came after three days of deliberations.

The Rev. Al Sharpton said the charges marked an important first step in the fight for justice in the case.

”Since Nov. 25th, we have battled together. Today is a major step in that battle, whether it will be a step forward, time will tell. But one thing that we can say, if you stay together and you fight, you can do what is necessary to protect children,” the Rev. Al Sharpton said at a news conference.

Anticipation has been running high around New York City about the grand jury’s decision. Extra police officers were put on standby, and the mayor met with black leaders in the Queens neighborhood where shooting occurred in hopes of defusing any tensions that might arise from the decision.

”Whatever the grand jury says … I think you will see the people of this city behaving in an exemplary manner,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday. ”They can be disappointed, they can express themselves — that’s freedom of speech, I don’t have a problem with that. But nobody is going to go out and make our streets unsafe.”

NYPD Detective who fired 35 shots testifies in Sean Bell case

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Published: March 10, 2007  NY TIMES 

A grand jury in Queens weighing evidence in the fatal police shooting of Sean Bell heard yesterday from the last of the five police officers involved in the case, a detective who fired 31 of the 50 shots at Mr. Bell’s car.

The actions of the detective, Michael Oliver, who emptied his 9-millimeter Sig Sauer pistol, reloaded and emptied it again during the barrage of police gunfire, have been among the focal points of the investigation into the shooting, which took place outside the Club Kalua strip club in Queens on Nov. 25, hours before Mr. Bell was to be married.

In the moments after the shooting, Detective Oliver, 35, told a supervisor at the scene that he was unsure whether he had even fired at all, according to the Police Department’s preliminary report. The detective’s lawyer, James J. Culleton, said yesterday that it could take as little as 10 seconds for an officer using a gun like his client’s to fire 31 shots.

Detective Oliver testified for about two and a half hours before the grand jurors yesterday, Mr. Culleton said. The detective did not respond to reporters’ questions as he left at 2 p.m.

Earlier, as Detective Oliver was escorted to the office building where the grand jury is seated, at 80-02 Kew Gardens Road, the leader of the detectives’ union, Michael J. Palladino, paused at a bank of microphones and defended the detective, who since he joined the department in February 1994 has more than 600 arrests to his credit, including multiple arrests in crimes involving guns.

“This detective has been characterized as a cowboy, and that’s not true and it is unfair,” said Mr. Palladino, who said that Detective Oliver, like his colleagues, was testifying without immunity. “This detective is an impeccable officer, has an unblemished record.”

Detective Oliver’s appearance yesterday signals that the grand jury’s work is winding down. It has heard this week from each of the five officers, in the order of the number of rounds they fired: Detective Paul Headley, 35, who fired one shot, and Officer Michael Carey, 26, who fired three, testified on Monday; Detective Marc Cooper, 39, who fired four shots, and Detective Gescard F. Isnora, 28, who fired 11, testified on Wednesday.

Mr. Culleton, Detective Oliver’s lawyer, said yesterday that the grand jurors had agreed with the officers’ request that they listen to an expert witness in firearms, tactics and training. That witness testified for two and a half hours yesterday afternoon, Mr. Palladino and lawyers said. A decision on whether any of the five officers who opened fire on Mr. Bell’s car will face criminal charges could come as early as next week, according to lawyers involved in the case.

Mr. Bell, 23, and his friends were celebrating at his bachelor party when the shooting occurred. Two of his friends, Trent Benefield, 23, and Joseph Guzman, 31, who were wounded, testified before the grand jury last week.

Sanford A. Rubenstein, one of the lawyers representing Mr. Benefield and Mr. Guzman, as well as Mr. Bell’s fiancée, Nicole Paultre Bell, 22, said his clients were awaiting a conclusion. He said that deliberations, once commenced, “might take some time,” since five police officers were involved.

“All the victims have testified before the grand jury, and they want justice,” Mr. Rubenstein said. “What justice means is that if a police officer committed a criminal act, that the police officer be held accountable, criminally.”

Lawyers for the officers have said that the shooting tore at their clients emotionally. Before Nov. 25, none of them had ever fired a round in the line of duty. Mr. Palladino, president of the Detectives’ Endowment Association, has repeatedly said that the officers’ actions were not criminal.

“We ain’t mean to kill nobody, and it is just a dead Nigga, so can we go home now like nothin’ happened, Y’all?  No harm, no foul, right?”

Nothin’ criminal?  Are you freakin’  kidding me? Unarmed Negro, Shot Dead. Unarmed Negroes, shot?  Unarmed Negroes charged with no crimes, but still shot up-Hmm.  Yeah, why don’t y’all just go home. Chill.  Relax.  Take two racial amnesia pills and call us in the morning. 

Thugs in NYPD Blue testify in Sean Bell case

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Sean Bell with fiancee and child. Bell was killed on saturday, November 25, 2006, by New York police just hours before the wedding was to take place. The plainclothes cops, who did not identify themselves, fired 50 shots at the vehicle where Bell was murd

NEW YORK (AP) — Two of five police officers involved in the 50-shot fusillade that killed an unarmed man on his wedding day appeared before a grand jury Monday.

The shooting that killed Sean Bell and wounded two of his friends prompted community outrage and questions about police tactics. The survivors claim the officers never identified themselves as police before they opened fire.

The first officer to appear, Detective Paul Headley, left the closed-door session feeling ”relieved that he had the opportunity to tell his version of events,” said his attorney, John Arlia. ”Clearly, it has been a toll on him and his family.”

Headley, 35, did not speak to reporters after testifying for more than two hours.

Officer Michael Carey, 26, arrived a short time later accompanied by Patrick Lynch, president of the Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association.

”He will go in there and tell his story as a police officer and put some facts to some of the fiction that ran on the streets,” Lynch said.

The grand jury called the officers in the order of the number of shots they fired. Headley fired one round and Carey fired three. They were to be followed by Marc Cooper, who shot four times, Gescard Isnora, who fired 11 shots, and Michael Oliver, who shot 31 times.

Last week, the grand jury heard from the two survivors, Joseph Guzman, 31, and Trent Benefield, 23.

Bell, 23, was killed before dawn after his bachelor party at a topless bar where police had launched an undercover operation in response to complaints about prostitution. He was to be married later that day.

Rudy’s whoring around a tough sell to right-wing

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I’m feeling catty today so please forgive me.   I can’t help it.  But y’all know I have a low tolerance for B.S.  This steamy photo on the front page of the New York Post borrows from a March Harper’s Bazaar piece on the First Whore in waiting, Judith Nathan Giuliani.   Miss Judi, you’ll recall, was Giuliani’s so-called “very good friend” whose “friendship” brought a public dissolution of Hizzhonor’s second marriage.  He was whoring around with this tramp and bringing her for clandestine stays at Gracie Mansion, the Mayor of New York’s official residence.  

In a public display of arrogance more shocking than Vice President Cheney dissembling after shooting a  79 year-old hunting partner in the face, Giuliani publicly announced his separation from his wife, Donna Hanover before he told her himself.  This was during his ill fated 2000 run against Hillary Clinton for a New York Senate seat. 

Understandably, Miss Donna had a problem with Giuliani flaunting his tramp in front of her damn face and those of her children.  She had a press conference of her own and alluded to another of his affairs “with one staff member” that she had been unconscionably subjected to.  Classy and smart, Miss Donna rose to the occasion and played her part of the wronged wife to the hilt.  Her performance added to the impression of Giuliani as a petulant bastard,which, of course, he is and will always be. 

After impeachment, I thought I’d seen it all.  This run for the White House brings the hypocrisy full circle.   After threatening to destroy our republic in a demagogic and hypocritical power grab by fools in glass houses, now this.  Republicans are far from tepid about his candidacy.  Most of them welcome his candidacy like another grandbaby-with enthusiasm.  The right-wing, however, seems ready and loaded for bear.  They don’t appear poised to let him slide into power on an uncritical tidal wave of post-September 11th publicity.  He ain’t on their far-right home team of knuckle dragging sycophants.

I shudder to think what a Giuliani Presidency would be like.  He actually has a good shot at the nod, and in the end, the Oval Office.  God forbid that we’re treated to another disgusting spectacle of him changing whores in midstream.

Giuliani 2008

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Rudy Giuliani-3.jpg

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, a Republican presidential contender acclaimed for his leadership after the September 11 attacks, took a step closer to an official White House run on Monday.

He filed a statement of candidacy with the Federal Election Commission establishing a committee to explore a presidential bid, which allows him to raise money, travel and hire staff.

“We still have to formally announce it and do a few more things, but this is about as close as you’re gonna get,” Giuliani said on Fox News Channel’s “Hannity & Colmes.” “We did everything you have to do, I guess, legally to do it, then you still have to make a formal announcement.”

The new paperwork removed the phrase “testing the waters” from the statement of candidacy Giuliani originally filed in November.

Giuliani said the move put him in the same position as his Republican rivals Arizona Sen. John McCain (news, bio, voting record) and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney.

“If I were going to bet like you bet on the Super Bowl … I would bet that we are going ahead,” he told reporters in New York, before declining to give an announcement date except to say it would be “sooner rather than later.”

The move could calm growing doubts among Republicans about whether he is serious about a White House run in 2008. While Giuliani leads eight other Republicans in many national polls, there has been growing speculation he might not run.

He faces an uphill battle winning over conservatives who wield considerable influence in Republican primaries because of his stance on some social issues, including his support for gay rights and abortion rights

Community Anger Intensifying in Sean Bell Case

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Several marches have been held in the past six weeks protesting the senselessness of the Police Shooting and killing of Sean Bell and the wounding of his three friends outside a Queens strip club in the small hours of the morning of Sean Bell’s wedding day.   Celebration turned to mourning as a family came to grips with another unjustified NYPD homicide.   The NYPD thugs in blue had struck again.  The intensity of the community reaction has been swift and their anger at the NYPD for their harassment campaign against witnesses to the incident is running over.  

Queens area politicians are unified in seeking an orderly but thorough investigation that hopefully leads to a felony prosecution for the officers involved. The prosecution track record in these incidents is appallingly unacceptable.  The Mayor has held a rolling series of meetings with community leaders and activists to signal his displeasure with this incident but has stopped short of calling for Police Commissioner Ray Kelly’s resignation.  A Queens Grand Jury convened Tuesday impaneled to investigate charges against NYPD Officers in this case.  This development comes on the heels of a protest vigil launched by Mrs. Valerie Bell and Sean’s fiance’ Nicole Paultre Bell in front of the 1o3rd precinct station house in Jamaica. 

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