City Council Candidates Debate Transportation Tonight

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Your many local city council candidates will be out and about tonight in a candidates’ debate for what might be your best and last chance to admire the range of local transportation issues and general affability of our future representatives.
City Council candidates in the 33rd district, including Isaac Abraham, Kenneth Baer, Douglas Biviano, Kenneth Diamondstone, Stephen Levin, Jo Anne Simon, and Evan Thies, will debate transportation, focusing on “the bicycle network, congestion pricing, truck traffic, pedestrian safety and public space,” in an event sponsored by Transportation Alternatives and sponsored by NAG. It starts at 7 and is at Automotive High School (50 Bedford Avenue).
Meanwhile, over in the 34th, Diana Reyna’s supporters are out slapping her signs on construction sites, taking the street artist approach that we’re all so familiar with. Maybe they should get Judith Supine on the case and crown the W’burg bridge?
If you’re not sure which district you live in, use this map to find your home, and come out! It’ll be fun. Local politics is always so dramatic, so don’t fear boredom.

Michael Moore's 'Capitalism: A Love Story' Trailer

Love him or hate him, Michael Moore gets people talking. His new one is out Oct. 2.

In other news, we’re looking forward to Matt Taibbi’s assuredly epic healthcare smackdown in the upcoming Rolling Stone. Here’s a teaser.

Tom Ridge Admits To Raising Terror Alert For Political Gain

Of course we all knew this anyway, but it’s nice to have confirmation.

In a new book, former Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge reveals new details on politicization under President Bush, reports US News & World Report’s Paul Bedard. Among other things, Ridge admits that he was pressured to raise the terror alert to help Bush win re-election in 2004.
Ridge was never invited to sit in on National Security Council meetings; was “blindsided” by the FBI in morning Oval Office meetings because the agency withheld critical information from him; found his urgings to block Michael Brown from being named head of the emergency agency blamed for the Hurricane Katrina disaster ignored; and was pushed to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush’s re-election, something he saw as politically motivated and worth resigning over.

All moral questions notwithstanding, who’s going to pick up the bill for all the extra law enforcement officers deployed every time the alert level was raised? And remind me again, why aren’t Bush and Cheney in jail?
Olbermann Timeline: How The Bush Administration Exploited Terror Threats For Political Gain, 2002-2008 [via]

Town Hall Lunatics Getting Even Lunatic-ier

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Evidently, this lunatic is nowhere near where the president will be conducting his town hall address, but he is legally allowed to carry the pistol in New Hampshire. Live Free or Die indeed. Also worth noting:

the gun-toting protester was holding a sign referencing the Jefferson quote: “The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.”

Needless to say, if this were a liberal protester, he’d be in jail now. The hard right just keeps getting creepier.

“The mood is sort of festive,” says this MSNBC talking head. Evidently hand guns, just like pinatas and pony rides, can turn any dull event into a party.

Butt Out, Baghdad: Cig Laws Coming To Iraq

The AP is reporting that extensive smoking regulations may soon be enforced in Iraq, where packs run as little as 50 cents. If passed, there would be no lighting up in “government buildings, schools, movie theaters, sports facilities and on public transportation. It also bans the sale of cigarettes to anyone under the age of 18.”
Come again? Freakin’ Wyoming can’t even pass a statewide ban on smoking in your enclosed workplace, and last I checked there was no threat of federal schism, Iranian manipulation, bombed out infrastructure, and/or murderous insurgency in its last throes or otherwise anywhere near Pappa Cheney’s huntin’ grounds. If al-Maliki and co. think they can enforce a law this Giuliani, Broken Windows-esque even in Iraq, perhaps it’s time for Barack, or at least Petraeus, to start printing up some “Mission Accomplished” banners of his own.
Next up on Wheel Of Priorities, pooper-scooper crackdown in Kabul.

"If it's more than three lesions, that's too many…"

This is why our health care system is an epic fail. via cbs5.com

In late April, Shelly Andrews-Buta was scheduled to undergo treatment for breast cancer that had spread to her brain, threatening her life…. But instead of having doctors working to remove her brain tumors on the day the surgery was scheduled, she sat in a San Francisco hotel room… Blue Shield, decided it wasn’t going to pay for the treatment her doctors at UCSF Medical Center had recommended.
Andrews-Buta was stunned. “I mean this is my life, this is my life, this isn’t, gee, if we don’t do it you’re just going to have a cut that doesn’t heal, this is you’re going to die,” she said.
Without treatment, her doctor told her she in fact would die: tumors had invaded 15 separate areas in her brain…. But the doctor said when it came to getting Blue Shield’s approval for the procedure; she was surprised to learn that the company’s policy lays out that a patient who has more than three brain tumors, what doctors call lesions, would not be covered for the gamma knife procedure.
Dr. Sneed felt the policy was unreasonable. “What I was up against was just a rule: ‘Well, if it’s more than three lesions, that’s too many,'” Sneed said.

Meanwhile, Congress continues to pander to the insurers.

Our government doesn’t exist to protect voters from interests, it exists to protect interests from voters.

As always, Taibbi nails it

Make no mistake, this has nothing to do with Max Baucus, Bill Nelson, or anyone else. If the Obama administration wanted to pass a real health care bill, they would do what George Bush and Tom DeLay did in the first six-odd years of this decade whenever they wanted to pass some nightmare piece of legislation (ie the Prescription Drug Bill or CAFTA): they would take the recalcitrant legislators blocking their path into a back room at the Capitol, and beat them with rubber hoses until they changed their minds.
The reason a real health-care bill is not going to get passed is simple: because nobody in Washington really wants it. There is insufficient political will to get it done. It doesn’t matter that it’s an urgent national calamity, that it is plainly obvious to anyone with an IQ over 8 that our system could not possibly be worse and needs to be fixed very soon, and that, moreover, the only people opposing a real reform bill are a pitifully small number of executives in the insurance industry who stand to lose the chance for a fifth summer house if this thing passes.
It won’t get done, because that’s not the way our government works. Our government doesn’t exist to protect voters from interests, it exists to protect interests from voters.

Go read it all.

And…Scene!

al_franken_rgb.jpgIt’s (almost) official: Al Franken is Minnesota’s newest senator, says the state’s Supreme Court. Sure, it’s possible that Norm Coleman may appeal and keep his now 238-day-old fight going. And, yeah, the Dems having 60 votes in the senate probably won’t be quite the magic cure-all some hope it will be. Still, for any of you (fine, us) hoping to reduce monthly health care bills by, I dunno, 100 percent at some point in the future, this is some damn fine news.
Here’s to you, Al. You’re good enough, smart enough, and doggone it, voters like you.