Thursday, May 31, 2007

And Baby Makes 3!

Isn't this a pretty picture of family values? Oh the hypocrisy... Congratulations to Grandpa!

This comment below in the NY Times political blog says it all:

"What this story doesn’t say is that Mary’s partner, Heather Poe, has ZERO rights to the child. Not as co-parent and not even adoptive rights because of the homophobic state they both CHOOSE to live. Further, the Cheney family announced that Poe had no rights to the child. I mean, at least there is Boston, just up the Northeast corridor, where the Mary-Heather couple could make its way to in a kind of underground railroad mode. It is shameful that gays and lesbians do not have equal rights in every state of the Union, and that Mary’s own father (and mother) have been chief discriminators and supporters of an administration which would turns gay people into less than second class citizens."
— Posted by HN

hoboken -- jersey's hollywood on the hudson

from june 1 through june 7, hoboken is hosting its first international film festival!

Will the President's recent statements on sanctions for Khartoum do anything?

One often forgets the humanitarian crisis in Sudan in the wake of so much incompetence and violence in Iraq. But, the victims in Darfur and now reaching into Chad is undoubtedly genocide. The region in western Sudan, roughly the size of Texas encompasses up to 2.5 million people and estimations of up to 450,000 people (200,000 on the lower end) have been murdered while another 2,000,000 have been displaced, the great majority Muslim.

The Bush regime finally took action on Tuesday. The sanctions bar 30 companies that have ties to Khartoum from conducting business in american dollars. Bush also promised to enforce sanctions already in place against over 100 Sudanese companies. The sanctions are limited in scope, but also promised to propose fresh U.N. sanctions. The problem here is that it is unlikely to survive a veto by the Chinese government on the security council. The President of Sudan, Omar Hassan al-Bashir is unlikely to end the genocide with such sanctions and unenforceable provisions. After all, he has the chinese government with its large investments in Sudan's oil and profits from arms sales to Khartoum as one editorial put it, "running interference for Bashir."

It is true Bush acted because of the huge amount of pressure from college and university students, hollywood and a growing christian distaste for the crisis, but the question remains will this recent activism by Bush do anything? Maybe our focus should be on China; they are clearly complicit in the crisis if not directly involved. There is a grassroots movement to shame China and the opportunity lies in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Many in this group are calling the games the "genocide olympics." This worked in such quick success China sent an envoy to Sudan, but regrettably came back spouting the same message Khartoum invokes, "I didn't see a desperate scenario of people dying of hunger there," he claimed. But, see here for shocking photos and stories of a former marine, Brian Steidle who found himself smack in the middle of the crisis as one of three U.S. military observers of the African Union. There is no denying the crisis unless you believe skin heads who still believe Nazi Germany did not kill 6 million Jews.

There remain disputes as to the beginning of the crisis, but its roots lie in British colonialism (not unlike Iraq) that has pitted groups of Muslims against one another as well as Christians. For a very good synopsis of what is happening go here. It does a marvelous job of breaking down the crisis in simple terms. I also recommend "What is the What" a recent book by Dave Eggers that tells the struggle of a young Sudanese boy in his homeland, in a refugee camp and his struggle to find success in America. Will we soon be seing movies in ten years, much like the slate of films about Rawanda, telling us what we could have done to avert the crisis?

vocab for the week

dilli or dilly (DIL-ee), noun Someone or something that is remarkable or unusual. [Shortening of delightful or delicious.]

high tech bible thumpin'

too bad, i missed the opening day!!

on memorial day, over 4,000 people visited the creation museum. the group responsible for this genius $27 million dollar museum: Answers in Genesis Creation.

step into the past with the Creation Museum Walk-through to bring the pages of the Bible to life!

my favorite exhibit-- dinosaurs aboard Noah's Ark-- asserting that all animals were vegetarians until Adam committed the first sin in the Garden of Eden.

see photo above of museum protesters: "support science not superstition."

fun with vocab!

mulligrubs (MUL-i-grubz), noun 1. Grumpiness; colic; low spirits. 2. An ill-tempered person. [From mulliegrums, apparently from megrims (low spirits).]

Rhetoric and Reality

Bush has been getting away with running the White House like his own personal oil company for years. He has gotten away with it because he has managed to convince 50.1% of the U.S. population to listen to his words and ignore his actions. The PR machine, largely run by Karl Rove, has masterfully used rhetoric to convince average Americans that policies that are harmful don't matter if you say they are great. Whether its tax cuts for the rich, illegal wiretapping, torture, enormous deficits, attacking Iraq, staying in Iraq, it has worked amazingly well. But wait, what about the rest of the world?

Fred Kaplan wrote today on about how the Bush foreign policy has consisted of nothing more than an attempt to use PR and spin to convince other countries that the U.S. is great. Incidentally, Sidney Blumenthal also wrote on that in order for the U.S. to restore its standing in the world their will need to be self-examination. In other words, a restoration of the ideals on which the country was founded.

Looking at the U.S. approval ratings around the world, we see that the PR effort has been a miserable failure. Approval of the U.S. has never been lower. It seems that foreigners do not buy the same separation of rhetoric from reality that half of the U.S. domestic population consumes with religious fervor. Kaplan argues, with the help of an ex-diplomat from the State Department in charge of PR, that foreigners actually judge the U.S. by its actions rather than its rhetoric. What an interesting concept!

My own theory, to which Kaplan also alludes, is that the religious zeal in the U.S. allows large portions of the population to separate actions from rhetoric. They drink the koolaid on faith, and faith alone. I believe that largely secular countries, such as France and Germany, actually make decisions based on facts, rather than rhetoric. This is a concept I will be reading more about in the "Assault on Reason" and "God is not Great: How religion poisons everything".

In the words of Noam Chomsky, "Three quarters of the American population literally believe in religious miracles. The numbers who believe in the devil, in resurrection, in God doing this and that -- it's astonishing. These numbers aren't duplicated anywhere else in the industrial world. You'd have to maybe go to mosques in Iran or do a poll among old ladies in Sicily to get numbers like this. Yet this is the American population."

Irrational thinking has had the upper hand for six years, its time for reason to guide our decisions.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Plame was a covert agent

In a report by NBC news and now countless news agencies it was revealed that Valerie Plame in fact was a covert agent for the CIA (let us put aside what the CIA does for the moment). Patrick Fitzgerald revealed in a court filing yesterday that she was covert traveling under cover many times overseas under her true name and sometimes under an alias.

The NBC report declared: "The unclassified summary of Plame's employment with the CIA at the time that syndicated columnist Robert Novak published her name on July 14, 2003 says, "Ms. Wilson was a covert CIA employee for who the CIA was taking affirmative measures to conceal her intelligence relationship to the United States."

Still, however the "right wing noise machine" who attacked her unmercifully and said countless times that she was not under cover will not apologize or give in. Glenn Greenwald gives a great summary of the idiots who said so.

One not included in his summary was Tony Snow to Larry King saying Plame was not undercover. Will they apologize? Any of them? I am sure not, but it makes the case for Plame's lawsuit to go forward. Further, Washington Post columnist Dan Froomkin points out that Fitzgerald's filing points to Cheney's involvement in the outing of Plame.
The Vice President of the United States outing an undercover CIA agent in a retaliatory fashion. Can you say treason?

A Little Humor Doesn't Hurt Anyone

I just read this on Lede, the New York Times blog, and I thought everyone who reads The Subversive Garden should see it. Check it out.

Comment of the Moment
“Latest news is that there was another zoo escape, this time by an orangutan at a zoo in Taiwan. The 330 lb male orangutan knocked over a motorbike or two before being tranquilized. Maybe they shouldn’t show these escapes on the news. It just encourages more such behavior. You know, monkey see, monkey do.”
Posted by Robert Laden May 23th, 2007 9:22 am Top of the Charts for Escaped Gorilla

Al Gore 'The Assault On Reason' ~ Countdown w/Obermann Part1

Gore on Keith. Keith does a great job of interviewing. But, stay around for Part II - the conversation gets better.

Al Gore 'The Assault On Reason' ~ Countdown w/Obermann Part2

Part II - sounding like Thomas Paine and hopefully a Presidential Candidate. We need this dialogue as a country. No one else is providing it. And a shout-out to Keith from Al.

India, Brazil and the US…Similar and Different?

I try to go for a walk most mornings, and I have noticed a phenomena ever since I started this habit. All over my neighborhood, in the city of Bauru, in the heart of the Brazilian state of São Paulo, can be seen people pushing huge carts full of cardboard, aluminum cans, and other recyclables. They push the carts themselves, or, if they can afford it, have a horse that pulls a makeshift carriage for them, which they load to the top with potentially profitable refuse. And you can see these people everywhere; they are almost a part of the scenery. Almost a caste.

I say almost a caste because every one of these “scavenger-hunters” of a sort come, invariably, from the poorest neighborhoods, or even more likely, favelas, of Bauru. They pay no taxes for their finds, receive no benefits for their toil, and are, in many ways, outside of society. They exist, but are, in many ways, throughout Brazil, invisible.

Which brings me to another invisible people, the untouchables of India. I will not go into detail describing the lifestyle of one of these outsiders, the lowest of the low in the caste-based society that is India. What I thought of today was this: how different is India from Brazil with regard to the poorest of the poor?

I recently read that the largest and most powerful state in India had just elected an untouchable for its governor. This is, in many ways, a monumental and stunning achievement and change in Indian society. Twenty years ago, as the New York Times article pointed out, this event would be unthinkable. However, India is modernizing, and although poverty is still horrendous throughout the country, some barriers are finally being overcome. One of them is the stigma that class brings to a people, especially the people traditionally considered dirty and pariahs.

Coming back to Brazil, I began to wonder if this type of sea change could ever occur in Brazil. I remember my mother telling me about a former maid that became a Congresswoman a few years ago. I, myself, have never heard of a favelada or slum-dweller, ever making it to federal politics. It just doesn’t happen. Unfortunately, the same families seem to produce the political class. And the cycle continues. So, can Brazil call itself a democracy, where every individual has a voice in government? I have to answer a resounding no.

Turning to the US, my country, I would have to answer the same resounding ‘no’ to the same question: is The U.S.A. a democracy, and can anyone play a part in the governing of the country, no matter what class they come from? Just take a look at how many millionaires are in the Presidential race.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

and the assclown emeritus winner is ...

GWB ... and ...
by popular (& write-in vote), the memorial day weekend winners are the trustees & UMass Amherst graduate school officials who chose to award an honorary degree to andrew card. watch the protest video and read the news report.

p.s. see dave zirin's article in the nation on why jason giambi is not all bad...

bookworms unite!

"Denial is like Versailles; it isn't the easiest thing to maintain." --Blue van Meer, Special Topics in Calamity Physics

like this imagery? this gem of a statement is just one of many uttered by the young narrator, blue, in this gripping mystery by marisha pessl. i'm not much of a mystery genre fan, but this grabbed me & i zipped through the 514 pages (including the "final exam"). the brainy 16 year old blue captured my attention with her many intellectual (but not snobby) quips, detailed metaphors, observations, visual aids and literary references. these stream of consciousness thoughts guide you as she solves a murder involving a high school teacher, opening up secret lives beyond anything blue could ever read...

so if the following descriptive tidbit makes you laugh, then this book is for you!

"... the woman dressed as Liza Minnelli leaning against the wall with makeup clogging her eyes like rotten leaves in old gutters."

Cindy Sheehan says goodbye to the peace movement

In a scathing diary yesterday to Daily kos Cindy Sheehan says goodbye to the peace movement. She says it was all well and good to criticize the Republicans, but when that criticism lay at the hands of the democrats she was called by her own constituency "a media whore." No longer is she the darling of the left. She paid the ultimate sacrifice losing her son to this dreadful war and her 29 year marriage to boot; she should be free to criticize whomever she wants.

See above the entire article, but below is the most heartfelt attack on our country: "The most devastating conclusion that I reached this morning, however, was that Casey did indeed die for nothing. His precious lifeblood drained out in a country far away from his family who loves him, killed by his own country which is beholden to and run by a war machine that even controls what we think. I have tried ever since he died to make his sacrifice meaningful. Casey died for a country which cares more about who will be the next American Idol than how many people will be killed in the next few months while Democrats and Republicans play politics with human lives. It is so painful to me to know that I bought into this system for so many years and Casey paid the price for that allegiance. I failed my boy and that hurts the most."

I hope she changes her mind. We need her.

In other news eight more deaths in Iraq brings the total of casualties to 113 this month and 3464 total U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq. The minimum of Iraqi civilian casualties is now up to 64,533. This is a minimum, I remind you some Iraqi civilian counts estimate over 600,000.

Monday, May 28, 2007

If torture is wrong, what about '24'?

I have to be honest: I have never watched an entire episode of '24,' and I don't plan to. The show is, without my help, wildly popular in Brazil, where I live right now, and, of course, throughout the US. One place it is especially watched is West Point, and here is where an interesting story unfolds. A story that illustrates the power of TV to shape discourse, culture and the Army's own mentality. The Raw Story brought it up with an article about Dick Cheney's speech to cadets at West Point, and he definitely didn't help things with regards to torture. He just backed up what Jack Bauer has been teaching soldiers for seasons now.

Here is an excerpt from the article: "Capture one of these killers, and he'll be quick to demand the protections of the Geneva Convention and the Constitution of the United States," the Vice President said in the Saturday morning speech. "Yet when they wage attacks or take captives, their delicate sensibilities seem to fall away."

As the piece points out, this quote was stated in connection with moral and ethical lessons to be learned in war. The vice-president, a leader of the self-proclaimed light of democracy and civilization, the US, offers an interesting point of view. His ideas, however, do not stray far from what West Point dean General Patrick Finnegan deals with daily at the Academy. He spoke to The New Yorker in February, and described what could be called "The 24 effect."

Here is what The Raw Story reported: "This past November, U.S. Army Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan, the dean of the United States Military Academy at West Point, flew to Southern California to meet with the creative team behind '24,'" wrote Jane Mayer in the magazine. "Finnegan, who is a lawyer, has for a number of years taught a course on the laws of war to West Point seniors - cadets who would soon be commanders in the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan. He always tries, he said, to get his students to sort out not just what is legal but what is right. However, it had become increasingly hard to convince some cadets that America had to respect the rule of law and human rights, even when terrorists did not. One reason for the growing resistance, he suggested, was misperceptions spread by '24,' which was exceptionally popular with his students. As he told me, 'The kids see it, and say, ''If torture is wrong, what about '24?''"

On this Memorial Day, something to chew on.

Joan Baez - With God on Our Side (Live 1966)

"You never ask questions when God is on your side."

Dixie Chicks - Travelin' Soldier

Happy Memorial Day.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

No Honor for Andrew Card

I wonder if the loudness of the boos and level of discontent with Andrew Card has to do with the Coup he and Gonzalez tried to orchestrate on Ashcroft? Boos start about half way in. Congratulations to UMass and to the value of protest.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

The Elephant in the Room

I came across this interesting article today by Anne Wright on truthout. She says the new bill to "support the troops" is nothing more than blackmail of the Iraqi parliament and confirms what this war has been about since the very beginning: Oil. I am stating the obvious here, but when it is spelled out in front of you it becomes shocking. Now, Congress is caught up in the action. No privatization of Iraqi oil, no reconstruction to rebuild the country America destroyed.

Colonel Anne Wright writes: "The privatization law, written by American oil company consultants hired by the Bush administration, would leave control with the Iraq National Oil Company for only 17 of the 80 known oil fields. The remainder (two-thirds) of known oil fields, and all yet undiscovered ones, would be up for grabs by the private oil companies of the world (but guess how many would go to United States firms - given to them by the compliant Iraqi government.)"

She also says: "No other nation in the Middle East has privatized its oil. Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Iran give only limited usage contracts to international oil companies for one or two years. The $12 billion dollar "Support the Troops" legislation passed by Congress requires Iraq, in order to get reconstruction funds from the United States, to privatize its oil resources and put them up for long term (20- to 30-year) contracts."

This article sparked my interest so I searched and interestingly enough I found The Iraq Study Group, the vaunted group the world over, says in recommendation #63 "which calls on the U.S. to 'assist Iraqi leaders to reorganize the national oil industry as a commercial enterprise' and to 'encourage investment in Iraq's oil sector by the international community and by international energy companies.' " This recommendation would turn Iraq's nationalized oil industry into a commercial entity that could be partly or fully privatized by foreign firms.

Sound familiar? How about the Project for the New American Century? So, I continued to search. And found this on Global Policy Forum. Iraq has the second largest proven oil reserve and according to experts, new exploration will raise Iraq's production to 200+ billion barrels of high grade crude oil which is very cheap to produce. The four largest oil firms in the UK and the US have been trying to get back into Iraq (with no luck apparently) since the nationalization of Iraq's oil fields in 1972. In fact, towards the end of the Saddam era Russia, China, France (all countries who did not support the invasion) had lucrative contracts with Iraq and Saddam. But, the Iraq sanctions made the contracts inoperable.

Suddenly, since the invasion of Iraq (miraculously) everything has changed. The new Iraqi constitution in 2005 guarantees a major role for foreign companies (I forget, who helped write the constitution?) Negotiators are optimistic that contracts can be completed soon which will give foreign companies control over oil fields.

Despite this major pressure, however, the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people have not capitulated and the current Iraqi government has not passed a national oil law. Most Iraqis, and more importantly, the powerful oil workers' union do not favor denationalization. In walks the U.S. Congress abandoning benchmarks and telling Iraq no privatization, no reconstruction funds. It is so simple, yet so devious.

Support the troops means in plain English: support big oil.

Bush Isolates U.S. on Climate Change

The U.S. and China seem to have more and more in common these days. Torture comes to mind, but also the failure to take part in any framework to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The New York Times reported today that the Bush administration has rejected an offer from Germany to a proposed framework to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 50% by 2050. It was pretty clear from the outset that Europe (Germany, Italy, France, and Britain) was going to agree to the framework. The interesting bit of news was the addition of Japan to that group. That leaves, among major emitting countries, the United States and China as the resistors. The Bush administration not only rejected the offer, but rebuked the Germans for "crossing multiple red lines" in the offer.

Apparently, the U.S. has now isolated itself even further from the rest of the world. One diplomat was quoted saying, "The United States, on this issue, is virtually isolated". Well we do have some company, China, and perhaps India.

Now we are part of our own axis, the axis of assholes!

Corzine PSA: I Should Be Dead

This is a powerful PSA. I, too should be dead because I did not wear a seat belt. If I had the last five years of my life would have been markedly different. Thank you Governor Corzine

Daily Show With Jon Stewart - Roasting the Dems

This shows the democrats hypocricy in a hilarious way. We will see in September.

The 1996 Tour de France Winner admits to doping.

Doping may even be a bigger problem for cycling as steroids and HGH is for baseball. But, at least Bjarne Riis is man enough to admit the error of his ways. He told the press he will give his shirt back if they want it. The tour has weighed in and they want the yellow jersey back. I think sports could go a long way by giving amnesty to players and sports figures alike to come forward and tell their story. It is silly to prosecute and attack these people when on some level we are all complicit. At least in the baseball arena.

Friday, May 25, 2007

The Iraq Funding Dilemna

Although it does not appear that the congressional democrats have acted in the noblest manner while this latest round of Iraq funding has been debated, they may actually be doing the right thing. The case for a democratic failure on this issue has been made by Glenn Greenwald on, Kos at, Keith Olbermann and others. However, it is important to remember that this debate is being negotiated with an incompetent party on the other side, namely President Bush.

The release of the pre-war CIA intelligence report today detailed the potential dangers of invading Iraq, which the Bush administraion summarily ignored. Criminal negligence? Perhaps, but also a big reminder of exactly who is "putting our troops in harms way". In fact, the report predicts much of the boodshed and difficulties we face in Iraq today. Therefore, the blame for the current situation rests with one side of this funding debate, President Bush, and the debate over funding is now occuring only because of his negiligence. With the President's incompetence in mind, this debate is not as simple as it appears.

With regard to the funding bill, granted, the dems have not taken the principled stand and fought Bush for every dollar of funding he has requested. I concede that in an ideal world, they should have done that. However, they are not operating in an ideal world. They are operating in a world where no one actually knows the best solution in Iraq and any withdrawal is going to require diplomatic finesse and strategic planning. Two areas you do not want delegated to President Bush.

An interesting position is the one taken by Congressman Andrews. Congressman Andrews (D-NJ) released a statement explaining why he voted yes on the funding bill yesterday. explains the tension felt by each democratic member in this vote, and why he chose the realpolitick approach of providing the funding. Principly the vote was intended to avoid the debate over "cutting off funding to the troops". As cliched as that argument has become, it is an enormous distraction that would require educating 50 percent of the American public, a task not possible in a short time frame. Representative Slaughter also provides a thorough explanation of the vote and why democrats could not, and should not, have blocked the bill.

Obviously, any thinking person knows that whatever happens to the troops is Bush's decision, and his alone. If the troops are stranded on a battlefield, that is Bush's decision. Congress will be more than happy to spend whatever it costs for a safe, or safe as possible, withdrawal from Iraq. Therefore, the "cutting off funding" debate, althought totally irrelevant, will actually take the political pressure OFF the republican congresspersons who are needed for the veto-proof majority.

In addition, any withdrawal precipitated by a funding debate will not be well planned and organized, but rather, will be hapahazard and dangerous. Remember that a withdrawal, even if precipitated by Democratic resistance in congress, will be implemented by Bush. Will he be capable of formulating a wise and strategic withdrawl, without a veto-proof congressionally-designed withdrawal plan? Something to think about.

In contrast, if the dems provide the funding, as they have decided to do, and gaurantee a re-assessment of the situation in September, then the debate stays focused on the ground in Iraq. Support will build for a phased withdrawal and a veto-proof majority will likely coalesce around a sound withdrawal plan. I would much rather a withdrawal plan organized and thought through by Congress than one put together by a reluctant Bush because he doesn't have enough money to continue his reckless war.

My heart is with the democratic critics who are sickened by the thought of funding this war another day. However, the reality requires a more complex strategy than simply forcing a withdrawal as soon as possible. This is like negotiating with a demented bus driver, when you are on the bus, and he has control of the wheel. It may be wiser just to wait for him to run out of gas, rather than wrestle the wheel from him! Its easy to say simply cut off the funds, but if you actually had to vote and think about the realities associated with such a vote, you might want to come up with a better plan. Maybe I am wrong, but I see why this is a very difficult vote for democratic members of Congress trying to end this war in a responsible manner.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Vote for the Memorial Day Assclown!

Who is it?

1) Nancy Pelosi, Steny Hoyer and Harry Reid, et al. for caving in to this administration and approving 100 billion in funding without a timetable for troop withdrawal? Check here for more.

2) The U.S. Military for firing 58 linguists because they are gay?

3) President Bush for telling White House correspondent David Gregory, (about terrorists) "they are a threat to your children."

4) Jason Giambi for possibly failing another drug test after telling Major League Baseball that we need to apologize for doing that "stuff."

We are open to comments and nominations.

Keith Olbermann Special Comment 23MAY07

A scathing comment by Keith. A pathetic President. A shameful Congress.

The Poor and American Idol

Bob Herbert has always been one of my favorite writers for the New York Times, and today he brings up a topic that most Americans, and especially their elected leaders, have neglected. That subject is poverty. As Herbert explains, New York City, with 700,000 millionaires, is living a modern gilded-age. The average Manhattan apartment costs about $1.5 million. A meal for 4 can easily cost $500. But for many in the Big Apple, especially public school students, that is just unbelievable.

New York is becoming, or actually has become, a tale of two cities. Mayor Bloomberg, a billionaire, is just one of the filthy rich running a city that counts 25% of its population under the federal poverty cutoff line. Herbert interviewed some students who dwelled in a world where fear of gangs, safety, and getting food stamps were commonplace.

I have listened to the candidates wax on about many things, but poverty, like Mr. Herbert reports, doesn't get much space. Maybe the politicians just don't believe that anyone votes with poverty on their mind.

Speaking about voting, last night hundreds of millions of votes were cast to decide the outcome of American Idol. The show is something that seems to cross all divides. It is definitely on American minds. Being poor in New York, well, that is a whole different show.

A Disappointed Senator Feingold

Feingold said in a prepared statement yesterday:

"I cannot support a bill that contains nothing more than toothless benchmarks, and allows the president to continue what may be the greatest foreign policy blunder in our nation's history," Feingold added. "There has been a lot of tough talk from members of Congress about wanting to end this war, but it looks like the desire for political comfort won out over real action. Congress should have stood strong, acknowledged the will of the American people, and insisted on a bill requiring a real change of course in Iraq."

Formerly Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid said they would not support a bill without a timeline. Suddenly, however House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said it is clear President Bush will not support a bill that has benchmarks Democrats had to send a bill that conceded to the administration's demands. This is complete chicken shit politics. And we should all be telling Congress about our disappointment.

Oh and by the way there have been 83 soldiers killed this month already and a total of 3434 american soldiers killed in total. The picture above also shows "residents carrying the body of a bomb attack victim in Baghdad. At least 25 people were killed and 60 wounded when a car bomb exploded near a popular market on Tuesday."
How will we ever get the country we want by continuing to cave in? President Bush is the reason for this disastrous war, why do the democrats think they will be blamed when they finally stand up to him? Political courage is not easy, but this is the time for it. This is very disappointing.
Update: A secret surge in Iraq. Troop increases are rising to 46,000, not 21,000 as we were told by the administration. This little piece of news seems to sneak by without anyone mentioning it. But, Bush instead of getting a time-line for Iraq has a mandate to increase troop strength.

I remember Thanksgiving Monday

Every Monday before Thanksgiving, I used to take a trip to St. Mary’s Church, my family’s parish, and help collect turkeys. Not live ones, of course. The church would have, and still has, a frozen turkey drive, where people could donate food to bring to food pantries in Passaic and Newark.

I would head down to St. Mary’s with my dad, and people would be still arriving with last minute donations of turkeys, canned goods, stuffing, and other seasonal staples. There was always a feeling of friendliness, and everybody seemed happy, if also a little rushed and stressed, what with Thanksgiving preparations and all. The other volunteers at the church would greet us, and we would get down to work, sorting what went to the different destinations. I would just try not to get in the way, and help out whoever told me they needed a hand. It was nice.

Then, there was the loading. Frank, a friend of my dad’s, had a trucking company, and he would bring down a truck, which would get stocked to the gills with the goods. We, the volunteer crew, would start up an assembly line, and pack up the truck. And soon, phase three would be ready to roll. The delivery. I would usually ride down with my dad in the Taurus, follwing the truck, and we would head to our drop-off spots, downtown Passaic and Central Ward Newark.

These places, when I was a kid, seemed like another world from my little town of Rutherford. They were big, dark, and kinda scary. They were so different. Driving up Springfield Avenue in Newark in the late 80s was quite an experience. Newark hadn’t started its “rebirth” yet, and there were endless vacant lots with garbage-can fires, drug dealers on corners, and people hanging out in front of broken-down buildings. But, when we got to St. Anne’s church, everything was OK. Juanita, our greeting committee, was always there to meet us. Seeing her livened everything up.

We would unload all the bags, chat for a while, and hope back in the car. And head back to the suburbs. Back to the world we came from.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

NJ Moves Forward to Abolish the Death Penalty

New Jersey recently took another step towards abolishing the death penalty...

The abolition bill passed the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee by an 8-2 vote on May 10th. "The New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee voted to pass S-171, a bill to replace the death penalty with life without parole, to the full Senate floor. The vote came after several hours of public testimony featuring members of the New Jersey Death Penalty Study Commission, which was formed when New Jersey lawmakers enacted a moratorium on executions last year."

Celeste Fitzgerald, Director of New Jerseyans for Alternatives to the Death Penalty, said the Committee looked at the facts and heard from the people of New Jersey "that it was time for the death penalty to go."

Today's editorial in the Trenton Times recounts a stunning letter from surviving family members of murder victims submitted to the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee as it considered the S-171 legislation. Speaking out for change, these family members declare that "the death penalty is a broken and costly system. New Jersey doesn't need it, and victims' families like ours don't want it."

Bush Wants to Be Declared a Dictator

A directive released on May 9, 2007 declares Bush will be a dictator in case of a catastrophic emergency. See this story for more. The directive defines catastrophic emergency as:
"Catastrophic Emergency" means any incident, regardless of location, that results in extraordinary levels of mass casualties, damage, or disruption severely affecting the U.S. population, infrastructure, environment, economy, or government functions"

The directive goes on to declare him the leader of the federal government in the event of a catastrophic emergency. Not sharing the power with the judicial and legislative branches, but "the President shall lead the federal government..."

I go back and forth on whether these guys are incompetent or just nuts, but it seems like both which is scarier.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Portrait of Paterson... From the Eyes of Children

every june i attend the annual Paterson Youth Photography Project (PYPP) exhibit to celebrate the city in which i work. and every time, the reception is packed, the children happily scoot around, showing off their photos to family, friends, community leaders and the press. held at the paterson museum in the great falls historic district, the exhibit showcases the children's work produced during their PYPP classes.

after you check out the exhibit (from 6/1 to 7/31), breathe in some serious history by walking up a short hill to the stunning great falls of the passaic (see photo, top left), the spot where, in 1791, alexander hamilton founded the Society for the Establishment of Useful Manufactures (S.U.M.) & the US industrial revolution was born.

PYPP's mission is
"to enrich the lives of school age children
in Paterson by introducing them to photography
as a means for self-expression
and an opportunity for personal growth."

The Power of Nightmares - trailer

Faux News GOP Debate in 45 Seconds

This is both scary and hilarious. Thanks to Bill Maher

In PEPSI We Trust...

i just received this chain email -- after i stopped gasping for air, i thought of sharing this lunacy with fellow readers. well, luckily, i don't have to ponder on this dilemma. i finally kicked my sugar laden soda habit for good!!!

ok, now that you have received this warning, please do your patriotic duty and forward this email to everyone you know!


Don't buy Pepsi in the new can. Pepsi has a new "patriotic" can coming out with pictures of the Empire State Building, and the Pledge of Allegiance on them. However, Pepsi left out two little words on the pledge, "Under God." Pepsi said they didn't want to offend anyone. In that case, we don't want to offend anyone at the Pepsi corporate office, either! So if we don't buy any Pepsi product, they will not be offended when they don't receive our money that has the words "In God We Trust" on it.

The Subversive Simpsons

See this very subversive short piece from the Simpsons on Raw Story. It is subversively hilarious. It discusses why Fox News is so conservative, but then puts such raunchy shows on the air. The answer is worth it. I don't watch the Simpsons that often, but this is great.

For the People of Which It Stands

There are days when I really do feel proud to be an American. They usually happen when I read about someone like the man in the picture above, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongoski. I have been living in Brazil for the last three and a half years, and it truly saddens me to know that the minimum monthly salary here is about $180 a month but a Congressman makes about $6000 a month, and a federal judge about $10,000 a month. The majority of politicians have no idea what it is like to worry about bills, or just having enough to eat. They have chauffeurs, personal trainers, security details, and live in the lap of luxury. And they have the audacity to say that they represent "the people."

The governor of Oregon took and is taking his position to heart. He has led a movement, taken up by some others in Congress, to live on the allocated food stamps amount: $21 a week. DailyKos, another reason I am proud to be American, wrote up some of the lessons learned by a Kulongoski disciple, Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan. The highlight of Ryan's week long journal was when he checked in at the airport and the security guard held onto his peanut butter and jelly. He realized that he had almost no money and had lost 4 meals with the confiscation.

Sometimes, the distance between the Third-World and the US is not so distant after all. As the DailyKos blog notes, inflation keeps going up, and the minimum wage has not increased in ten years. At least some politicians are trying to feel the actual pain felt by the richest country's poor and neglected. Hopefully more will follow. It would be nice if a few would do the same in Brazil, but I doubt that will happen any day soon.

Assclown of the Week: Karl Rove

I have a friend who refers to the Republicans as the "Rethuglicans" and when he is really pissed off he refers to them as "assclowns." So, I thought it would be fun to have an assclown of the week. And in the spirit of Keith Olberman will have a couple of runner-ups. Feel free to disagree, comment and nominate, but here goes this week's assclown of the week.

It was a particularly active week for assclowns, but for me Karl Rove leads the pack. He is the epitome of what is wrong with this administration and though Gonzalez could have easily won, he is only a stooge (clearly assclown status) of Rove and Bush. But, see this article on truthout that connects the CIA leak scandal to the firings of the U.S. attorneys. Rove is secretive and runs the administration from behind the great curtain and is either responsible or involved in every scandal. He was one of the leakers in the CIA leak scandal (remember that), but was not indicted and was the mastermind behind firing of the seven, I mean eight, I mean nine U.S. attorneys and has refused to give over emails to Congress. Remember, he lost or misplaced emails regarding the CIA leak scandal. Suddenly, they were recovered, but never turned over. Why? His status in this administration reminds me of J. Edgar Hoover. What does he have on people? Assclown. See this, however. Rove may be closer to his day of reckoning. Conyers wants him before his committee.

The first runner-up is Gonzalez of course. If you read the article above you will be reminded that Gonzalez was the stooge in the CIA leak case too when he was part of the administration as White House Counsel. You remember that role? Approving torture. Assclown.

The second runner-up is more disheartening to me than all of them. But, the Democrats are the second runner-up. See this article. The Democrats are now conceding a time-line to the Bush administration for the troops to pull-out, thus guaranteeing the Republicans dream of endless war. Clearly, the Dems do not want to be blamed for not funding the troops. But, the argument is a farce and to me really begs the question what are the democrats doing (about the war) that is so different than what they did when they were the minority party? I heard a discussion this morning on NPR regarding a father who lost his son in Iraq and now questions the meaning of citizenship and democracy. Why, he said are we not standing up to this administration? It questions whether we have a democracy. We voted to end this war. We went to the polls in droves to rid this nation of the Republican menace and we did, despite efforts to quash us at the polls. Now, six months later we are still in the same spot, yet even more of the country is not supporting this war. The democrats must find a way to stop cowering in the face of criticism. I am in support of many measures the Dems have passed, but the reason we went to the polls was to end the war. Let's get on with it. Assclowns.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Why not in Jersey?

I went to Curitiba this past January. It is the capitol of the Brazilian state of Parana, and the picture you see is of the Wire Opera House. This visionary building was completed in two months under the reign of the mayor at the time, Jaime Lerner. In the '80s and '90s, the city led the Western Hemisphere in progressive, "green" urban planning. The city fought hard for these changes, and made many of them under a military dictatorship, but when you visit the place, what one sees is truly impressive.
To start, there are so many trees, parks and squares. Lerner, who was head of the most powerful urban planning institute in Parana before becoming mayor, emphasized green spaces not only for recreation, but to reduce pollution and minimize uncontrolled commercial development. Another sight are the bus stops, which serve a bus system that works as efficiently as many subway systems. You pay in the cylindrical containers, and not on the bus, saving precious time. The downtown is well-lit and has plenty of pedestrian spaces. A battle that was hard fought, Lerner managed to avoid allowing cars to take over the area.
The city, according to a New York Times Magazine article, is suffering from growing pains. With expansion, democracy and politics, nothing is easy...especially staying green.
Here is my question: why aren't more cities trying this? I can only hope that the recent World Mayors Conference can lead to some type of awakening. City planning must think about tomorrow, and not just what is good for today.

My family's home in Rutherford, NJ, is a little bit different from most houses in the town. It does not have an American flag outside, hanging out front. Is my family not a proud New Jersey American family. Well, they, like I, do not believe that the Stars and Stripes represent America anymore. Instead, it represents what the above political cartoon depicts, which is the neocon worldviews of the Bush crew. I will not and cannot advertise my acceptance of that mentality.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Green Architecture Lesson of the Day

Just a brief thought on green architecture from Frank Lloyd Wright:

"What we must know is organic architecture is not found in books. It is necessary to have recourse to Nature with a capital N in order to get an education. Necessary to learn from the trees, flowers, shells - objects which contain truths of form following function. If we stopped there, then it would be merely imitation. But if we dig deep enough . . . we arrive at secrets of form related to purpose that would make of the tree a building and of the building a tree." -Frank Lloyd Wright

The Garden State's Ethnic Diversity

In an article on May 17, 2007 by Elizabeth Llorente for North, she writes about the growing ethnic diversity in our state.

It reports that minorities make up 37 percent of New Jersey's population, outpacing the national minority percentage of 33 percent, according to estimates released Wednesday by the U.S. Census Bureau. New Jersey ranks 13th in the nation in minority percentage, said Census officials, continuing a years-long trend toward a diversity that has brought benefits and challenges to communities and public institutions. The demographic picture of New Jersey was part of a report that showed that the nation's minority population had topped 100.7 million. "To put this into perspective, there are more minorities in this country today than there were people in the United States in 1910," said Census Bureau Director Louis Kincannon.

To read about the struggles of diversity, check out "A Tale of Two Cultures", an article by Elizabeth Llorente, that explores the division of race in suburban/urban New Jersey at The Authentic Voice.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Do Some GOOD!

looking for a new magazine to read, one with integrity and purpose, instead of the dumb-you-down approach? well then, you need good magazine... media for people who give a damn (their tag line). when you subscribe for 6 issues, 100% (a mere 20 bucks) goes to help the organization of your choice (choose from a limited but decent list).

my favorite articles in the current issue... the perks of afternoon naps and the guide to north korea. happy reading!

Hoboken's Baby Parade - the Yuppies Have Gone Too Far.

Have you seen anything more ridiculous? This is a signature yearly event in Hoboken. The Baby Parade on May 20th. Why do New Yorkers across the river laugh at us? Gone are the artists, the grit and the diversity of Hoboken replaced by boxy condos that all look the same, overpriced strollers, chain stores, real estate agencies, banks, nail shops and cell phone stores. Hey wait a minute, doesn't that sound just like Manhattan??

I think there are a whole lot of people with a whole lot of time on their hands.

Avoiding Blame

How is this for stupidity? See at Think Progress the video of Bush trying to squirm his way out of a question by Kelly O'Donnell regarding the damaging testimony by James Comey at the beginning of the week. O'Donnell asks him if he ordered Gonzalez and Card to Ashcroft's hospital room. Pretty ballsy question for O'Donnell.

He completely avoids the question reusing talking points about the NSA program. Everything this administration does wrong, thereafter it hides behind secrecy and says: "we just can't talk about that." Does this sound like democracy to you? Is this how you envision America? Whether the journalists are spineless or are in bed with Washington, they are not doing their job by not challenging the administration.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Assault On Reason

Raw Story has a mini review of Al Gore's new book The Assault on Reason. His book will be provocative to say the least and will further speculation that he is gathering up for another run at the Whitehouse. There are several candidates this year who I am interested in supporting including Edwards, Obama even Gravel now (who clearly does not stand a shot, but is fun to watch), but no one sparks my interest like Gore, who by the way I did not vote for in 2000.

His book, which I have looked forward to now for six months seems it is not going to disappoint. In an excerpt in Time Magazine Gore articulates that logical debate in the American discourse is under assault. He says and I quote: "Faith in the power of reason -- the belief that free citizens can govern themselves wisely and fairly by resorting to logical debate on the basis of the best evidence available, instead of raw power -- remains the central premise of American democracy,"This premise is now under assault."

Gore is a changed man, it seems and is discussing the meaning of democracy and the fragility of our Union and that it is not that far off that we could lose the ability of the governed to rule themselves. These are discussions that no other candidate is addressing, combine this with the credibility he brings I could not help myself supporting him. Never mind the importance of the global warming issue; could this be a comeback like Nixon in 1968? This time to change the future of our nation and our planet.

My honest opinion if I were to bet right now is he won't run. But, as the summer goes on I may be on the sidelines cheering for his entry.

Welcome to the Terrordome

Dave Zirin and Chuck D discuss their new book, Welcome to the Terrordome (about Hurricane Katrina), on May 15, 2007 at The Schomburg Center for Study in Black Culture in Harlem, NYC.

Crimes at the Highest Levels of Bush Administration

The revelations arising out of the Comey testimony on Capitol hill the other day will not go without consequence. It is becoming clearer and clearer that the administration was conducting wiretapping programs without the legal authorization of its undeniably loyal and conservative political appointees in the Department of Justice. If Ashcroft was unwilling to authorize the program, it must have been truly egregious. In fact, Ashcroft was not only unwilling to authorize it, he was willing to resign over the program.

Today the New York Times and the Washington Post have called for complete investigations into the matter. Glenn Greewald has dissected this issue as well as anyone and calls for a special prosecutor to investigate the matter. He also points out the siginificance of the Washington Post, a conservative paper supportive of the administration, actually accusing the administration of potentially criminial acts.

As the blogosphere and the newspapers have had time to digest the testimony, the inconsistencies between Gonzales' story and the facts are becoming more disturbing. As much as people would like to avoid the truth, partly due to the damage it will do to the institutions involved, it is becoming impossible to deny the crimes that have occurred. (Check out Greenwald's work on the subject, it is worth it! He should win a pulitzer prize, if such a thing exists for bloggers.)

Where have all the heroes gone?

Years ago I declared that there was only one war in which I would enlist and that was the war of the workers of the world against the exploiters of the world. I declared moreover that the working class had no interest in the wars declared and waged by the ruling classes of the various countries upon one another for conquest and spoils.

With these words, Eugene V. Debs synthesized my feelings toward war. And in saying these words, the five-time presidential candidate got himself thrown in prison for ten years under the premise of the Anti-Sedition Act, which is not very different in content from the current Patriot Act. He was 64 at the time. I long for a politician with half the inspiration and courage of Debs, and for a populace with half the zeal of the Midwest of the 1900s, a place where Appeal to Reason, Debs' publication, had a circulation in the hundreds of thousands. The US used to be a place where reason had a home. That time has long gone.

Separate But Unequal?

Today marks the 53rd anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka ruling, which said that racially segregated schools were inherently unequal. Moving ahead 53 years, I take you to Ferris high school in Jersey City, NJ. I studied at St. Peter's Preparatory School, also in Jersey City. My school, a Jesuit private high school, was about 2% black. Ferris is probably about 60% black. It has also been taken over by the state at least 4 times in the last ten years due to incompetent management by Jersey City. The school has almost no white students at all.

What happened to the dream of the Supreme Court in 1954? Has it faded into the past, another lost attempt at a utopia which is not to be for NJ or anywhere in the US? From my vantage point, public schools in NJ cities have not exactly become bastions for racial diversity. If you live in a suburb, most likely your public school is mainly white, and if you happen to live in a place like Jersey City, it is probably black and latino.

Politics, it seems, and court rulings, do not change the economic and racial realities of our population.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

New Jersey Locks Up More Prisoners Than Libya and China

This article compares prisons under dictatorships and levels an argument against American hypocrisy. America is quick to call on dictators with abusive prison populations, but the statistics here are staggering. New Jersey locked up 313 citizens for every 100,000 population in 2005. This is one and half times that of Gadhafi's Libya and five times that of Musharraf's Pakistan. If one adds inmates in local jails (people incarcerated for less than a year) the numbers would only get worse.

In fact 45 out of the 50 states (democratically elected governments) the article claims lock up its citizens at faster rates than any of the countries headed by dictatorships. New Jersey included. Maine, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, North Dakota and Minnesota are the only states surviving the dubious determination. Of course the worst are the regular culprits, Louisiana, Texas, Mississippi and Oklahoma. What is more, in America one out of every 136 residents finds themselves behind bars (the article does not get into race, but in NJ 65% of residents are black, one can only imagine the ratio). The article calls this a uniquely American belief and as I have said in an earlier post, the prison system has become a merry go round with over half (it is actually 60%) who find their way back to jail. The article also makes the point that half the prison population in jail could be emptied because they are serving time for non-violent offenses.

For more see the article by the Asbury Park Press, which they should be commended for. Our legislators really need to catch up with this issue.

Democracy Has Been Lost: "President and White House Counsel decide to Knowingly Break the Law"

If this man's testimony does not provide evidence that our attorney general should be fired (and that high crimes and misdemeanors have been occurring all along) on the spot - nothing does. James Comey's testimony before the Judiciary committee is shocking in its blatant disregard for the law, the checks and balances that have kept our government from resorting to a King and for the American people.

Comey testified that Attorney General Gonzalez while, white house counsel tried to strong arm then Attorney General Ashcroft to sign off the NSA wiretapping of American citizens while he lay critically ill in the hospital for pancreatitis. The Attorney General had already transferred power to Comey who refused to authorize the program as did Ashcroft. But, while he was ill Gonzalez and Andrew Card tried to make Ashcroft sign off while in his hospital bed to overrule Comey thinking, as Comey insinuated he may not understand what he was doing.

The highest advisors to the President in the government (seemingly with the authorization of the President) tried to pull a coup d'etat of the highest ranking law enforcement official in the United States. Shocking. As it turns out Ashcroft sat up in his bed and refused to sign reiterating his concern with the program. Andrew Card and Gonzalez then called Comey to come for an emergency meeting at the President's office. Comey said he would, but not without counsel and brought the Solicitor General of the United States.

As it turns out the NSA wiretapping authorization occurred without either Ashcroft or Comey's signature anyway. These people care nothing for Democracy or the rule of law (two tenets of which our government rests) and will stop at nothing to achieve their policy objectives.

We must speak out about this. Thanks to philasurfer for the updated headline.
Update: In light of the testimony revealed by James Comey yesterday, Senatory Hagel from Nebraska calls for the Attorney General's resignation.

I still remember

There were Sundays when my Dad would pack us all in the Taurus, and we would head down to Cranford, NJ. There, we would rent a canoe, or maybe two. And we would put into the Deleware and Raritan canal. It was fun, but what i will never forget are the family squabbles that would ensue. Whoever was steering would get a lot of heat for his or her inability to keep the boat gong straight. The bowman would start to complain, and the fight would begin.

And meanwhile the scenery would pass by. We would pass by backyards, fallen trees, quiet houses, and over the quiet waters. Once and a while, I would put my hand in the moving waters, just to feel the coolness. Birds would pass by, maybe a fish would come to the surface, and our canoes would move slowly through it all. When we got hungry, all of us would stop to eat our bagged lunch of peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches, cookies and a plum. Then, we would head back, bickering amongst ourselves, but still having plenty of fun.

Afterwards, everybody piled into the family station wagon and headed back up to Rutherford. Tired, hot and happy.

Stretch those Legs!

From our special DC correspondent:

May is National Bike Month!

The League of American Bicyclists is promoting Bike-to-Work Week from May 14-18 and Bike-to-Work Day on Friday, May 18. See bike league for ideas to celebrate transportation on two wheels...

Did you know? Short car trips (over distances that could easily be bicycled) are much more polluting than longer trips on a per-mile basis because 60 percent of the pollution resulting from auto emissions is released during the first few minutes of operation of a vehicle. (click here for more environmental info.)

I don't bike now but I miss the carefree days when it was a regular habit. Hoboken is a mile squared so I walk everywhere or take the PATH, NJTransit light rail or commuter train. Here's a special shout-out to our friend, a public interest attorney in NYC, who bikes from her apartment to the ferry which takes her to work in Staten Island. Go Bike Lady, ride like the wind!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

General Eaton: If Pres. Bush Won't Listen, Congress Must

Another General is speaking out. This will run in many districts including Senator Susan Collins who Lieberman is supporting (see below).

Lieberman Should Be Recalled.

Lieberman stole his election from Ned Lamont in November, claiming he would be an independent democrat. He played loose with the rules, lost to a worthy candidate in Lamont in the democratic primary fair and square, then cried foul and declared himself an independent. Most democrats were scared and stayed on the sidelines, never really campaigning for Lamont who by the way would have been yet another strong voice for progressives in the VERY conservative senate along with the elections of Sherrod Brown and Bernie Sanders.

But, the dems played it safe while Lieberman was funded by Bush and his cronies, called us traitors, and gave support to this war as much as anyone in the Senate. He lead off the Iraq debate for the Republicans just before the election remember. Well, now he is headlining a fundraiser for Susan Collins, the Republican from Maine to earn money for her and help her defeat a very strong, worthy and progressive candidate in Congressman Tom Allen (D) of Maine.
The Voters of Connecticut who are overwhelmingly democrats should recall this carpetbagger. Go home Joe, to where you belong - the scrap heap of american politics...join your buddy John McCain. You will be remembered for selling your senatorial soul to the likes of the criminals currently running our country.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Green Thoughts for a Better World

take this quick & easy test to determine your ecological footprint. i'm proud to say my footprint is 11 (the average US resident's is 24) but i can't do much gloating. the site calculates how many planets we'd need if everyone lived like me... 2.4 planets to support my lifestyle! makes ya think. i'm counting the days til the jersey fresh farmer's markets open, to shop locally...

take the test at:

find a jersey fresh market near you at:

and after you take your test, check out what one portland, oregon based sandal company does with their excess materials!

Hightstown, NJ "bring us your weak and weary"

In Hightstown, New Jersey a different experience for immigrants is unfolding. Much of the press in New Jersey regarding immigration policy has been angry superficial rhetoric directed at immigrants, mainly of persons of spanish speaking backgrounds.

But, in Hightstown, lead by its Mayor the town has embraced the mostly spanish speaking newcomers. Because of an unexpected raid on immigrants two years ago by federal agents the 1,300 immigrants in a town of 4,000 residents shied away from reporting crimes and asking for municipal services. The Mayor along with the city council approved a resolution that local officials were forbidden from inquiring into the immigration status of anyone not suspected of a major crime.

The mayor began taking spanish lessons inquiring into the concerns of the spanish speaking residents and has lead to a vibrant community. The community is not without its problems of course, but the decision to embrace the community is an enlightened response compared to other towns, not the least of which is Morristown.

Girls, Brandish Your Collarbones!

BARE BONES The well-chiseled clavicle is in. And with that, styles showing deep necklines, like this Moschino dress, are highly coveted by women who brandish their collarbones as a sign of thinness. (article from the New York Times, Style section)
i saw this last thursday in the paper & can't stop thinking of it... how crazy those words are when i read them. i thought the clavicle was something you broke playing basketball or falling from a bike. now it's the new measure of cool. jesus! i'm slim so my clavicle bumps out a bit, but i'd never view it as my fashion accessory or something to "brandish"! one minute i need to have ample curves, the next i need to be stick thin. thick, bushy eyebrows are back... wait! no, they're gone. i certainly don't keep up with fashion trends anymore (not on my budget!) but this little tidbit of fashion advice and forecasting infuriated me. i've know too many women trying to get obsessively thin, sickly thin & i know too many young girls hyper confused already as to what their shape should be. while i do read the NYT for arts & books, this article makes me cringe. what next?

if you want to read the entire clavicle article, go to

Sunday, May 13, 2007

A Message from John Edwards

John Edwards (whether you are considering voting for him or not) is calling for us to reclaim patriotism by demanding an end to this war. This Memorial Day John Edwards is calling for action to make our voices heard and tell Congress to support the troops by bringing them home. Watch the video and consider reclaiming patriotism.

Boy, do they hate him!

Love him or hate him, Michael Moore makes you think and react. He makes everyone sit up and listen, and that includes our current leadership (or lack thereof). Which means that "SiCKO," Moore's newest documentary, which comes out on June 19, and will be shown at Cannes on May 19, has already stirred up plenty of bad feelings. To be more specific, it has enraged President Bush to the point that the filmmaker is being investigated by the Treasury Department.

For what? Good question. Moore took some September 11 emergency and cleanup crew members to Cuba to get them treatment. You see, they, like 45 million Americans, don't have a health plan. That is the main thrust of the new documentary: the corrupt and failed health care system of the world's richest country. Mr. Moore is being investigated for breaking the US embargo of Cuba by taking his crew and these individuals to Fidel's place. Moore, who recently wrote to the Treasury Department, finds it strange that the administration did nothing until two weeks before the release of the film, when they knew about it since October 2006.

Check out the letter:

MLB Notes: Playing the Patriotism Card

The Yankees since September 11, 2001 have played God Bless America at every home game. This was a directive that came from Major league baseball that was rescinded the next year. The Yankees, with their benevolent dictator, George Steinbrenner still require it. In fact, Steinbrenner requires all patrons, during God Bless America and the Star Spangled Banner to stand still and observe the flag and remember as well as pay tribute to those who have died serving our country. This is the corporate yankees telling us we need to "support the troops" and stop "emboldening the enemy" I guess.

The Yankees have even gone so far as to place chains in the aisles to restrict movement. Plain clothes cops and ushers watch if fans move from their seat and are not paying appropriate tribute to the flag and our beloved xenophobic nation. This is not illegal as the Yankees are a private entity, but it does raise the question of allowing a baseball team to restrict the movement and therefore the speech of baseball fans (the Yankees are not the only ones as my beloved Red Sox are doing something similar, but they are by far the worst). The Yankees are the only team that plays "God Bless America" at all home games during the seventh inning. I am with Carlos Delgado of the cross-town rival Mets, the song is inherently political and he will not stand and be forced to observe a war that Americans have been involved in longer than World War II. I will be following his lead.

I am attending Red Sox/Yankees on May 22nd at the stadium. I won't be standing for God Bless America.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

5 Dead GI's and Three Others Missing

Seven U.S. soldiers and an Iraqi army interpreter came under attack Saturday morning during a patrol of a Sunni insurgent stronghold south of Baghdad, leaving five dead and three missing, the military said. Troops who arrived later found five of the soldiers dead. The other three members of the patrol were gone, according to the statement, from Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, the chief U.S. military spokesman in Iraq.

And as the Daily Kos is reporting 265 troops are dead since the escalation. 3393 troops dead since the invasion. And as the Iraq Body Count reports at a minimum 63373 civilians reported killed during military intervention in Iraq.

Done in our name, under our watch...oh I tremble for my country because I know that God is just...-Thomas Jefferson-

Friday, May 11, 2007

Liberal Media?

This is an update on a story (see below) regarding General Baptiste who resigned in protest of the Iraq war and is now speaking out. What does he get for speaking out? Fired. CBS decided to let Baptiste (who describes himself as a die hard Republican) go as a commentator in the wake of his thirty second ad. See below at this link his conversation with Keith Olberman. He is no radical, no peacenik (which I proudly declare I am) and is not "emboldening our enemy." He is speaking out because of the concern he has for our nation, the direction of this war and how this war makes us less safe. CBS, that radical organization fired him for what 65 percent of our country now knows. This war is a disaster.

Watch the clip at Rawstory, it is worth it.

Also (from one of our DC correspondents) more on this story at Think Progress: