Politics: June 2006 Archives

I just read an op ed in Newsday by Ray Lemoine. Ray LeMoine is co-author, with Jeff Neumann and Donovan Webster, of Babylon by Bus, an account of LeMoine and Neumann's experiences working for the Coalition Provisional Authority in Iraq.

He points out that he had just spent six months working and traveling in the Islamic world -- Turkey, Lebanon, Egypt and Pakistan -- so that he wasn't surprised when the Department of Homeland Security agents took him aside to question him. What did they want to know about? Copyright infringement related to t-shirt sales.

No, these frontline warriors in the global war on terrorism at Homeland Security had far more pressing issues to question me about. "Why did you infringe on the Boston Celtics' copyright in Boston in 2003?" asked my case officer, Malik - ironically a Pakistani - from behind his high desk. Uh, because I used to sell T-shirts outside sporting events, I said, wondering what this had to do with national security.

"You've got a long record," he said. Sure, for peddling "Yankees Suck" T-shirts - sans permit, which isn't a crime but a code violation - not for promoting "Bin Laden Rulz!" DVDs or the "Idiot's Guide to Suicide Bombing."

They also had information on a dispute with a parking attendant in New York. Apparently, the NYPD now feels the need to share basically all of everyone's record of police contact with the DHS. Do you think they can really process the amount of information they're given? Are the feds really in charge of policing all behavior now?

Homeland Security, the $40-billion-a-year agency set up to combat terrorism after 9/11, has been given universal jurisdiction and can hold anyone on Earth for crimes unrelated to national security - even me for a court date I missed while I was in Iraq helping America deter terror - without asking what I had been doing in Pakistan among Islamic extremists the agency is designated to stop.

Instead, some of its actions are erasing the lines of jurisdiction between local police and the federal state, scarily bringing the words "police" and "state" closer together. As long as we allow Homeland Security to act like a Keystone Stasi, terrorism will continue to win in destroying our freedom.


I have never cared for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). On a superficial level, I really dislike their equal sign logo (modified above for me by Art Fag City) which is designed to be as un-gay as possible. I remember a queer American friend, who lives in Europe, visiting around the time of the NYC GOP convention in 2004. He had no idea what the little blue = stickers were that some protesters where wearing.

Allegedly a gay rights lobbying organization, it has become so entrenched in the DC lobbying mindset that it is not merely ineffectual, it is actually harmful to gay rights in America. I am no fan of Charles Schumer, given his vote for the Defense of Marriage Act. A Jewish New Yorker representing Park Slope making an anti-gay vote? Yeah, that'll get you the Christian Right vote. However, when the HRC endorsed Al D'Amato over Schumer in 1998, I was shocked.

Their newest outrage? They have endorsed Joseph Lieberman for the Senate, even before the primary. Thanks to his snuggling up to the GOP and Bush on matters ranging from the Iraq War to the PATRIOT Act, he actually stands a chance of losing the primary to Ned Lamont. Guess which of the two is more pro-gay? Lamont. Of course, the HRC always argues this about realpolitik, or about preserving access, but ultimately they are working against the interests of the people they supposedly represent.

Why is endorsing Lieberman so bad? Here is an excerpt of a blog post by Firedoglake:

He told the New Haven Advocate that “homosexuality is wrong,” joined with notorious homo-hater Jesse Helms in voting to take away federal funding from schools that counsel suicidal gay teens that it’s okay to be gay. On gays in the military, Lieberman has enunciated the now-discredited canard that “homosexual conduct can harm unit cohesion and effectiveness.” (Tell that to the dozens of countries, from England to Israel, that permit openly gay troops in their armed forces.) In fact, Lieberman worked with Georgia’s Sam Nunn to fashion the destructive “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, which resulted in escalating expulsions of gays from the military every year after it took effect. Its Catch-22 provisions have directly stimulated a rising wave of violent gay bashing and harassment in the military because victims can’t complain without “telling.”

He also explains why Ned Lamont is a good candidate for the gay community, so go take a look. One more post worth reading on the subject is Howie Klein at Huffington Post.

Note: I use gay above, but I mean it more in a general sense of queer. I don't feel like listing a number of groups that follow under that umbrella, and I'm not offended by the word queer, but it seems to make some people (including my fellow homos) squeamish.

I didn't get around to adding these two things yesterday to my previous post. First, the excellent New York Post cover from yesterday:


Second, the ABC news blog reports that part of the funding cut was justified by explaining that New York has no national monuments or icons.

I often see arguments that New York needs to work with the GOP, since they control all three branches of government, and it's the only way to get anything done for New York. Bullshit. The only sane thing to do is work to defeat every Republican we can. There is no reason why New York State should have any Republicans representing us in Congress. And once we've done that, we can launch challenges from the left for politicians like Hilary Clinton and Chuck Schumer who are pro-Iraq War and pro-PATRIOT Act.

NY1 reports:
Local politicians are slamming the Department of Homeland Security Wednesday for its decision to slash New York City’s counter-terrorism funding by $83 million this year, a nearly 40 percent cut from the previous year.

The Department of Homeland Security today announced its new national distribution plan, which divides a total of $740 million between 46 cities. DHS say the cuts will help spread funding to other communities facing threats.

The new funding formula shows the Big Apple will have to make do with $124 million in federal homeland security grants for the 2006 fiscal year, down from $207 million last year.

New York State is also taking a cut of just under $115 million this year, despite promises from Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff earlier this year that his department would be distributing money based on risk.


While New York is facing cuts in funding, the DHS has decided to increase funding for cities including Omaha, Nebraska; Louisville, Kentucky; and Jacksonville, Florida.

Funding was also cut for Washington, DC. Let's be realistic here. If a terrorist wants to set off a dirty bomb, it's going to happen in a dense city like New York or DC, not some place like Omaha with less than 500,000 people.

Who is the head of the House of Representatives' Homeland Security Committee? Peter King, a Republican congressman from Long Island. If this is what "working with Republicans" get us, I can't imagine a better reason to work on throwing them all out.

There is a post on this subject at Daily Gotham, with a link to the Act Blue page for New York congressional races if you would like to donate some money.

Also from Daily Gotham, Liza Sabater points out that the state Democratic party fears bloggers and finds them a bit harsh. Good luck with that, coming from a party that couldn't prevent charisma-free George Pataki from being governor for eight years. As she says,

If things stay the course, they're going to lose the 2008 elections to a pet rock.

On a somewhat related note, Mayor Michael Bloomberg gets in the press for railing about the NRA and illegal guns, but that doesn't stop him from donating money (up to the maximum amount) to pro-gun politicians. Steve Gilliard has the text of a New York Times article on the subject.

This page is an archive of entries in the Politics category from June 2006.

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