Tag Archives: hillary clinton

#FreedomofSpeech

15 Feb

1. CNN has been offering up wall-to-wall coverage of the Carnival Triumph, which has limped its way back to the US after suffering a crippling engine fire on Monday. They were calling it, and treating it like, a “disaster”, but was was disastrous about it? What it amounted to was 4,000+ passengers and crew being wildly inconvenienced and placed under poor conditions of sanitation and comfort. But no one died, and everyone came home last night. This wasn’t a floating boxcar of detainees – it was a cruise ship that broke down, revealing perhaps that cruise ships need fewer nightclubs and more backup systems, as WKBW reporter John Borsa pointed out on Twitter. It wasn’t a disaster – it was a mass inconvenience. 

2. Remember the “proud racist South Buffalo guy“? He made headlines some months ago for complaining about how those minorities commit crimes, cause property values to decline, and destroy neighborhoods. He’s now been arrested for robbing a West Seneca bank

3.  A West Seneca high schooler misbehaved at a hockey game and was asked to leave. He later took to Twitter and cursed out the teacher who did it. He did not threaten the teacher, he did not mock or insult the teacher – he merely vented his frustration with a Tweet that read, in relevant part, “f-ck [Teacher’s Name] #freedomofspeech”. The school found out and gave this honor student who, it is said, has no great history of behavioral problems, a five-day suspension. 

Interestingly, the student’s hashtag wasn’t frivolous. A kid doesn’t shed his constitutional rights when he enters the school building, and he especially doesn’t lose them when he uses a public platform from home, off school grounds, and outside school time. This particular student did absolutely nothing wrong. He took to a social media site and vented about a teacher with whom he had just had a negative experience. The only punishment this student should receive, if any, should come from his parents. The teacher can confront the student directly and demand an apology, I suppose, but the school has absolutely no right and no business to regulate or ban speech – even profane speech – a student uses on social media outside school time and grounds. Believe it or not, this is a case with federal, Constitutional, ramifications.

4. A big national tea party group – FreedomWorks, which was until recently led by former Congressman Dick Armey – made a video depicting former First Lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton receiving cunnilingus from a panda. The tea party, relegated to the very deepest fringes of the right wing, has devolved from an anti-Obama movement into a group promoting some pretty base, offensive sexist stuff. I’m not surprised, either

In one segment of the film, according to a former official who saw it, Brandon is seen waking from a nap at his desk. In what appears to be a dream or a nightmare, he wanders down a hallway and spots a giant panda on its knees with its head in the lap of a seated Hillary Clinton and apparently performing oral sex on the then-secretary of state. Two female interns at FreedomWorks were recruited to play the panda and Clinton. One intern wore a Hillary Clinton mask. The other wore a giant panda suit that FreedomWorks had used at protests to denounce progressives as panderers. (See herehere, and here.) Placing the panda in the video, a former FreedomWorks staffer says, was “an inside joke.” 

Another FreedomWorks staffer who worked there at the time confirms that “Yes, this video was created.” 

Days before the FreePAC event, the video was screened for staff. “My mouth was wide open,” a former official recalls. “‘What the hell is this?'” Several FreedomWorks staffers were outraged and stunned that Brandon, the group’s second-in-command after Kibbe, had overseen the video’s production, appeared in it, and intended to show this film at the conference, which would be attended by many social-conservative activists. They raised objections to the film. 

“How was that not some form of sexual harassment?” a former FreedomWorks official asks, noting that two female interns had been requested to act out a pretend sex scene. “And there were going to be thousands of Christian conservatives at this thing. This was a terrible lack of judgment.”

Brandon, a former FreedomWorks official says, defended the film, insisting it was creative and funny. But eventually a decision was made not to show the video at FreePAC. 

Armey says he didn’t became aware of the film until months later: “I heard they had made an obscene video mocking Hillary Clinton.” He says he was told the video showed Clinton having sex with an intern. “I asked another [FreedomWorks] guy if he had seen it,” Armey recalls. “He said, ‘I heard about it. I was traveling at the time. It was shown around the office.'” Armey adds, “There was a concern that this kind of behavior could land you in court. I was shocked at the ugly and bad taste.” 

Dick Armey is the guy who called Representative Barney Frank “Barney Fag”. Dick Armey is a horrible person, and “FreedomWorks” is a horrible organization. The news that they produced a video showing Hillary Clinton engaging in some form of bestiality is unsurprising.  After all, 15 years ago these same clowns were probably referring to her as “Hitlery Klintoon” over on Free Republic. 

5. Tesla is a company that manufactures and markets a gorgeous, all-electric luxury sedan. It recently contacted the New York Times to do a story showing off, in cold weather and real-life conditions, Tesla’s new network of high-capacity chargers placed at 200-mile intervals along the Northeast Corridor. It didn’t go well

Tesla CEO Elon Musk went ballistic, calling the review a “fake” in social media. This prompted the Times’ reporter, John Broder, to refute Musk’s assertions via the Times’ Wheels blog. Let’s swing back to the point that Tesla pushed this test to the Times, and that, 

This evaluation was intended to demonstrate its practicality as a “normal use,” no-compromise car, as Tesla markets it.

A cold snap in the Northeast shouldn’t cause a state-of-the art $100,000 sedan, marketed as a regular car, to be unable to make 180 mile trip without pausing for an hour to recharge. Practically any car in America can easily make 300 miles before pausing for a 5 minute refueling stop. 

Soon, Musk took to Tesla’s corporate blog, where he challenged Broder’s assertions point by point, and uploaded what purport to be printouts of data the car recorded from Broder’s ride. Again, social media went nuts, calling out the Times for lying. Lying? 

First of all, let’s consider we have a Times reporter with no known axe to grind with Tesla or electrics in general who reported on his experiences trying to get a $100k car from Philadelphia to Boston. On the other hand, we have the CEO of a corporation and his public relations department trying to spin away the negative effects of the car’s failure to accomplish what the lowliest Honda Jazz can do. But also consider the fact that, in his blog, Musk purported to get inside Broder’s mind to ascribe motives to what he wrote. Consider, 

In Mr. Broder’s case, he simply did not accurately capture what happened and worked very hard to force our car to stop running.

Broder had once written an article bemoaning the various criticisms and chicken-and-egg problems with electrics, and Musk simply dismisses that as animus. 

As a result, we did not think to read his past articles and were unaware of his outright disdain for electric cars. We were played for a fool and as a result, let down the cause of electric vehicles. For that, I am deeply sorry.

Musk made this assertion: 

Cruise control was never set to 54 mph as claimed in the article, nor did he limp along at 45 mph. Broder in fact drove at speeds from 65 mph to 81 mph for a majority of the trip and at an average cabin temperature setting of 72 F.

Setting aside for a moment the fact that driving at speeds of 65 – 81 on national interstates is not unusual, and that setting the heat at 72 on a very cold day is perfectly normal behavior – stuff that a $100k sedan that is supposed to be a replacement car and not a superfluous frivolity for the rich should easily be able to accomplish – the statement is wholly misleading. Look at the data: 

He was driving at 0 MPH a whole lot more often than he was driving 80 MPH. Indeed, the data records exactly one momentary spike to over 80 MPH – to say that he was routinely exceeding the speed limit is simply misleading. And why bother offering up the data if you won’t bother to characterize it accurately? Broder responded at the Wheels blog, after New York Times Public Editor and former Buffalo News Editor-in-Chief Margaret Sullivan became involved. As to the speed discrepancy, Broder accurately suggests the speedometer was uncalibrated due to wheel size, 

I drove normally (at the speed limit or with prevailing traffic) when I thought it was prudent to do so. I do recall setting the cruise control to about 54 m.p.h., as I wrote. The log shows the car traveling about 60 m.p.h. for a nearly 100-mile stretch on the New Jersey Turnpike. I cannot account for the discrepancy, nor for a later stretch in Connecticut where I recall driving about 45 m.p.h., but it may be the result of the car being delivered with 19-inch wheels and all-season tires, not the specified 21-inch wheels and summer tires. That just might have affected the recorded speed, range, rate of battery depletion or any number of other parameters. Tesla’s data suggests I was doing slightly more than 50 over a stretch where the speed limit was 65. The traffic was heavy in that part of Connecticut, so cruise control was not usable, and I tried to keep the speed at 50 or below without impeding traffic.

Certainly, and as Tesla’s logs clearly show, much of my driving was at or well below the 65 m.p.h. speed limit, with only a single momentary spike above 80. Most drivers are aware that cars can speed up, even sometimes when cruise control is engaged, on downhill stretches.

Musk accused Broder of deliberately running down the battery during a stop at a Milford, CT plaza where Tesla had a supercharger located, 

When he first reached our Milford, Connecticut Supercharger, having driven the car hard and after taking an unplanned detour through downtown Manhattan to give his brother a ride, the display said “0 miles remaining.” Instead of plugging in the car, he drove in circles for over half a mile in a tiny, 100-space parking lot. When the Model S valiantly refused to die, he eventually plugged it in. On the later legs, it is clear Broder was determined not to be foiled again.

Of course, Musk is merely ascribing ill motives on Broder because he is now butthurt over the article. But here’s how Broder explains what happened, 

I drove around the Milford service plaza in the dark looking for the Supercharger, which is not prominently marked. I was not trying to drain the battery. (It was already on reserve power.) As soon as I found the Supercharger, I plugged the car in.

The stop in Manhattan was planned from the beginning and known to Tesla personnel all along. According to Google Maps, taking the Lincoln Tunnel into Manhattan (instead of crossing at the George Washington Bridge) and driving up the West Side Highway added only two miles to the overall distance from Newark, Del., to Milford, Conn.

Neither I nor the Model S ever visited “downtown Manhattan.”

As a lawyer, I’m trained to recognize BS when I see it, and when someone has a motive to exaggerate or mischaracterize evidence, and then does so, I’m skeptical of everything else they have to say about a matter. So it is with Mr. Musk, who goes beyond the data and labels Broder a liar who had it out for the Tesla from the get-go. Given a choice between believing the reporter and the company’s PR department, I’ll go with the Times. 

After all, Musk told Broder directly

Mr. Musk called me on Friday, before the article went up on the Web, to offer sympathy and regrets about the outcome of my test drive. He said that the East Coast charging stations should be 140 miles apart, not 200 miles, to take into account the traffic and temperature extremes in this part of the country.

Incidentally, CNN tried the same trip and had no problems whatsoever. Perhaps the temperatures had moderated, as evidenced by the snow-free photograph accompanying the article.

None of this is an indictment of the car, or even of the network of chargers. (As someone who puts lots of miles on two cars every year, I fail to see the allure of spending the equivalent of a Cheektowaga house to buy a car that has trouble making 200 miles before needing an hourlong break to charge up, but to each his own). But the tone of Musk’s response to a negative experience that Broder had, and the malicious way in which he mischaracterized what happened and ascribed to Broder a hostile state of mind, I echo what media guru Jeff Jarvis Tweeted late Thursday, 

 

Sneak Attack

25 Jan

 

Courtesy Marquil at EmpireWire.com

And Beyonce Lip-Synced, Too

24 Jan

There was, of course, Rand Paul’s chutzpah – complaining about the management of an underfunded State Department, the budget for which he would further halve. But Rand Paul is Ron’s kid, and he has no use for State or for foreign relations whatsoever. He’s the very embodiment of ignoramus fortress America, which disengages from the rest of the world and becomes some fantasyland glibertarian dystopia. 

But the best exchange was the one below, where Republican Senator Ron Johnson cross-examined Secretary of State Clinton on the big scandal Republicans concocted out of the Benghazi attack – the one where it was scandalous that the US Ambassador to the UN went on the tee vee to regurgitate talking points about Benghazi that had been drafted and approved by the CIA.  

Ron Johnson, by the way, is an Iran interventionist, a tea partier who thinks 50 million uninsured Americans, medical bankruptcies, lifetime limits on health claims, and policy rescission represent the “finest health care system in the world“, favors perpetual occupation of Afghanistan, supports discrimination in employment based on gender identity, and opposes same-sex marriage. He also thinks he can condescend to the female Secretary of State: 

 And now you know why right-wing radio talk-show hosts hang up on or pot down liberal callers. 

The Morning Grumpy – December 7th

7 Dec

All the news and views fit to consume during your “morning grumpy”.

1. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gave a transformative and landmark speech on LGBT rights leading up to International Human Rights Day at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.

Click here to watch the full speech or click here to read the full transcript.

Some have suggested that gay rights and human rights are separate and distinct; but, in fact, they are one and the same. Now, of course, 60 years ago, the governments that drafted and passed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights were not thinking about how it applied to the LGBT community. They also weren’t thinking about how it applied to indigenous people or children or people with disabilities or other marginalized groups. Yet in the past 60 years, we have come to recognize that members of these groups are entitled to the full measure of dignity and rights, because, like all people, they share a common humanity.

This recognition did not occur all at once. It evolved over time. And as it did, we understood that we were honoring rights that people always had, rather than creating new or special rights for them. Like being a woman, like being a racial, religious, tribal, or ethnic minority, being LGBT does not make you less human. And that is why gay rights are human rights, and human rights are gay rights.

Secretary Clinton articulated the official position of the United States of America on issues of LGBT rights following a memorandum published by the President earlier in the day. In that memorandum, President Obama directgovernment agencies to ensure that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people, or LGBT persons. The broad strokes of the policy are as follows:

• Combat the criminalization of LGBT status or conduct abroad.
• Protect vulnerable LGBT refugees and asylum seekers.
• Leverage foreign assistance to protect human rights and advance nondiscrimination.
• Ensure swift and meaningful U.S. responses to human rights abuses of LGBT persons abroad.
• Engage international organizations in the fight against LGBT discrimination.

A remarkable day, indeed. THIS is American Exceptionalism.

2. The President then went to Kansas and gave a full-throated defense of progressive democratic policies and marked a “make or break moment” for the middle class. Watch the full speech here or read the complete transcript here. This was the President we elected in 2008 and he hit all the right notes as he began to outline his re-election campaign themes.

But for most Americans, the basic bargain that made this country great has eroded.  Long before the recession hit, hard work stopped paying off for too many people.  Fewer and fewer of the folks who contributed to the success of our economy actually benefited from that success.  Those at the very top grew wealthier from their incomes and their investments — wealthier than ever before.  But everybody else struggled with costs that were growing and paychecks that weren’t — and too many families found themselves racking up more and more debt just to keep up.

In the last few decades, the average income of the top 1 percent has gone up by more than 250 percent to $1.2 million per year.  I’m not talking about millionaires, people who have a million dollars.  I’m saying people who make a million dollars every single year.  For the top one hundredth of 1 percent, the average income is now $27 million per year.  The typical CEO who used to earn about 30 times more than his or her worker now earns 110 times more.  And yet, over the last decade the incomes of most Americans have actually fallen by about 6 percent.

Now, this kind of inequality — a level that we haven’t seen since the Great Depression — hurts us all.  When middle-class families can no longer afford to buy the goods and services that businesses are selling, when people are slipping out of the middle class, it drags down the entire economy from top to bottom.  America was built on the idea of broad-based prosperity, of strong consumers all across the country.

This isn’t about class warfare.  This is about the nation’s welfare.  It’s about making choices that benefit not just the people who’ve done fantastically well over the last few decades, but that benefits the middle class, and those fighting to get into the middle class, and the economy as a whole.

If this is the Obama that we’ll see on the campaign trail, the Republicans better dig up Lincoln if they plan to win.

You know what? I’m gonna end the links here. Those two stories are enough for one incredible and exceptional day.

Fact of The Day: There is really only one choice for December 7th, a day that will live in infamy. If you ever have the opportunity to visit the Pearl Harbor Memorial in Hawaii, you must visit. The USS Arizona memorial is a haunting tribute to the fallen, and a place that will change how you see the world.

Quote Of The Day: “It is from the numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to improve the lot of others or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” – Robert F. Kennedy

Song Of The Day: “Tip The Scale” by The Roots

Follow me on Twitter: @ChrisSmithAV

Email me links, tips, story ideas: chrissmithbuffalo[@]gmail.com

Meanwhile, near Utica

3 Feb

We in Buffalo need infomercials like this, please God:

Now THAT’S how you sell leather!

HT Sully

Morning Roundup

27 Jan

WNYMedia.net cameras capture Senator Schumer discussing Senator Gillibrand’s qualifications:

Some people in the Hudson Valley are quite pleased with the notion of Senator Gillibrand, and have even begun marketing the notion. Politicker counts about 30+ people interested in her congressional seat.

I can’t quite understand Republicans’ opposition to spending $875 billion to stimulate the domestic economy, given the trillion-ish dollars we’ve spent and thousands of lives lost to transform Iraq from a totalitarian kleptocratic dictatorship into a para-failed state with sectarian schism and violence, and a very close relationship with Iran.

New York’s former Health Commissioner, Dr. Antonia Novello, apparently loved to spend taxpayers’ money on a whole bunch of crap no one wanted or needed. She also treated aides and employees as if they were her private household staff. The notion among some politicians – particularly those in New York State – that public office is a sort of latter-day, New-World, nouveau nobility is one that needs to be hunted, quashed, and prosecuted. But do you know who I am?!

This story about SoS Hillary Clinton giving Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) a tongue-lashing is precious.

Paterson’s Methodology

19 Jan

It is, quite frankly, less fair to the taxpayers of New York State than American Idol. I understand that Paterson has the absolute right to make this selection, but I can’t fathom why – in this climate – he would permit the uncertainty to go on and on this long.

And if the selection is, as rumored, Caroline Kennedy, then the wait is even less justified and just Paterson jerking the whole state around.

The Clinton Replacement

15 Jan

They’ve been polling statewide, and the people with statewide name recognition are winning. Attorney General Andrew Cuomo over Caroline Kennedy 30 – 21. In New York City, however, Kennedy beats Cuomo 31 – 29.

Since Clinton will be confirmed as SoS in a matter of days, Paterson may make his pick within a similar timeframe.

It’s my hope that Paterson selects a Democrat for the Senate position who has a solid track record of working hard for constituents, who has been vetted by an electorate, and who has an ability to come up with creative solutions to big, intractable problems, and who is a tireless advocate for the people not just living in his district, but the greater regional good.

Newsday has a roundup of the candidates (in addition to Cuomo & Kennedy):

_Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York City. In Congress since 1992, she has the support of three major women’s groups and could be seen as attractive to women and Catholics.

_U.S. Rep. Kirsten Gillibrand. She just won her second term representing a large, traditionally Republican district in the Hudson Valley to north of Saratoga Springs.

_Nassau County Executive Tom Suozzi. In two terms, he righted the county’s fiscal crisis, led Paterson’s high-priority commission to reduce property taxes, and ran statewide in 2006 for governor against Eliot Spitzer for the Democratic nomination.

_Rep. Steve Israel from Long Island. In Congress since 2001, he has earned important committee positions in the House.

_Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown. A former state senator with Paterson, Brown would provide geographic balance to the 2010 election ticket.

_Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion. Carrion has support in one of America’s most diverse areas and is also considered a contender for New York City mayor.

_Rep. Jerrold Nadler of New York City. He has been in Congress since 1992 after serving 16 years in the state Assembly.

_Rep. Brian Higgins. First elected to Congress in 2004, he’s a former state assemblyman and grandson of Irish immigrants. He could bring western New York balance to the ticket.

_Randi Weingarten. The president of the American Federation of Teachers is a widely known leader of one of the most powerful labor and lobbying forces in New York.

Hillary Clinton’s Senate Seat

8 Jan

Brian Higgins (NY-27) is on the short list.

Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown, apparently, is not.

In an interview with the Buffalo News, Governor Paterson sort of told all the Caroline Kennedy backers to STFU and let him make his own damn mind up, thanksomuch.

Caroline’s Anointing

17 Dec

HT Marquil @ EmpireWire.com