Tuesday, July 31, 2007

michael vick -- the real story by playahata

for a compelling, much needed discussion of the race issue surrounding michael vick & dogfighting, read this scathing article, written by my colleague's friend from his blog. see excerpt below...

"Somehow people who claim to believe in the Constitution and due process think it only applies to certain people. Somehow people who claim they care about animal abuse seem to only care about their pets. Somehow people who claim to care about animals find themselves wholly unconcerned, with a system and society that routinely abuses animals, or how the creatures that grace their plates or wrap around their shoulders as a status symbol got there. And somehow despite the public’s pious grandstanding and noble language I don’t think Michael Vick’s trial and public execution is about animal cruelty."

see their website, playahata for more insightful news and perspectives that demand to be heard.

they tell it like it is & they define themselves as: "(1) Playahata (n) - One who offers truthful constructive criticism that is in opposition to popular opinion or the status quo, (2) Playerhater (n) - One who detracts from the legitimate success of others, or disrespects others and their ideas due to ignorance, envy, jealousy or too much free time.
So, Hater = Bad, Hata = Good, Hating = Negative, Hatin’ = Positive"

brilliant. also check out the hata & hater of the month!

Another Place to Shop

Home Depot Dumps O'Reilly. That is two Super Size me stores that have quit advertising on the O'Reilly Factor for his hatemongering. Goodbye Bill O. I don't and probably won't shop there as I support the local hardwares, it is nice to know that they are listening to their consumers.

Kevin Garnett Tribute

He is going to be a Celtic...I am so happy. I remember hearing a story about KG. His father died, a person who was not in his life right before the state championship. Understandably he was confused, he took a minute, the father who gave birth to him gone...he thought. This is my life and I owe it to MYSELF to play. He is as intelligent as he is a great player. Welcome.

Curb Your Enthusiasm - Larry gets bad news

The funniest episode of any sitcom ever. Brilliant and unnerving...sorry the picture is not very good.

time to leave hoboken????

wow, the local website for the hoboken community has given me the best reason to leave this town. see kid radical's comment here which already has caused quite a stir. below is the post and photo from the site. we hope our loyal readers will join this discussion. where is the compassion? concern for others? have those who posted comments that want to "clean up the streets" ever talked with a homeless person? do you know their stories, their lives or their names? do you think they choose to struggle with mental illness, addiction or poverty? if you see a growing "problem" that affects you and "the value of your home", what are you doing about it? do you volunteer at the shelter, donate to a non-profit organization that helps the homeless or serve your community? myself and others who contribute to this blog try to address that question every day in our work, our daily routines and interaction with others. i'm glad these posts inspire heated debate and hope that we can do more than just insult each other's blogs.

there is a very real face to homelessness. look at it.

--A reader chimes in about his feelings about the state of homelessness in Hoboken. He thinks it’s getting worse. We have a great shelter, but is the situation really falling apart?

Dear Hoboken 411,
What is up with the increase in the number of homeless people in Hoboken? Its feels like they are growing in number. I see the same homeless people walking Washington Street everyday. I don’t think they are dangerous but at the same time I am sure they make us hardworking residents uncomfortable, to say the least. (As well as decrease the value of our homes). And where do they come from? What is so appealing about Hoboken to the homeless? Is this a growing problem in our town? Is there anyway to help alleviate it? Something has to be done in my opinion. This town is better than what I am seeing. Obviously Hoboken has made great strides over the past 10 - 15 years, but why can’t we clean up the streets?

GOP Ranking Member Giving Gonzalez Until Noon Today.

Arlen Specter, ranking member of the Judiciary Committee gave the White House 18 hours to resolve the controversy surrounding Alberto Gonzalez. Arlen Specter aides released a statement on Monday that suggests a bombshell is ready to explode if the White House does not explain the discrepancies. Part of the statement read:
“Given the difficulty of discussing classified matters in public, I think it is preferable to have a letter addressing that question [of Gonzales’ veracity] from the administration … by noon tomorrow, which will be made available to the news media,” Specter wrote in the statement. “The administration has committed to producing such a letter.”

Specter would not clarify, he only told the news media to wait. 50 minutes to go. Meanwhile the darkest member of this administration expressed his support for Gonzalez. He said: "I am a big fan of Al's."

Sounds like he wrote the epitaph for Gonzalez.

Monday, July 30, 2007

P o s t c a r d F r o m T h e O t h e r P e n i n s u l a

summertime, and the living should be easy. well in the metro nyc area, it's always business as usual. we, at the subversive garden, took a much needed break & spent a few days in portland, maine. this small city is a gem, perhaps underrated (probably preferred by the residents to save their city as a well kept secret). the peninsula juts out (like an elbow as locals say) into the casco bay. it feels like a mini-san francisco, with its hills, quirky neighborhoods and walkability to the water.

here are some highlights-- worth checking out if you find yourself in the lovely state of maine!

no chains can settle in & steal away local business, thanks to a moratorium on development. starbucks & cold stone creamery did sneak in there before... ugh... but no other chains to be found in the city limits. the powerful buy local alliance is a strong presence as local businesses truly support each other.

arabica: where espresso is "a culinary art", i got my fix of caffeine in a friendly cafe where the frothy, flower design of milk & espresso achieved perfection.

ferdinand: a fun-filled shop on munjoy hill (great views!) where super friendly founder and creator diane offers handmade cards, tee-shirts, bags, "found" vintage trinkets & jewelry, books and other assorted goodies. i love this store!

uffa: super yummy restaurant where head server andre treated us wonderfully... i had fishcakes, peach gazpacho and strawberry-rhubarb gelato.

portland museum of art: a hidden treasure! we saw an amazing frank lloyd wright exhibit plus several floors of american & european art.

The Democrats to Introduce Impeachment Proceedings Against Gonzalez

A group of House Democrats will introduce a resolution calling on the Judiciary Committee to begin impeachment proceedings against Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.

Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA) will sponsor the measure. It will be dropped in the hopper tomorrow. The Text of the Resolution is here. See ya Gonzo!

The Domestic Surge

Cory Booker wrote an editorial to the Newark Star Ledger on Sunday. I am re-printing in full because it is worth it. While I have seen numerous problems with the way Mr. Booker governs, this article hits the nail on the head and it is wonderful to see a Mayor of a major American city discussing such issues as a "domestic surge." Personally, as a reentry attorney I have seen the effects of which he speaks and it is ugly. We punish rather than rehabilitate and it makes our streets much, much, more unsafe.

When neither crime nor punishment pays
Star Ledger
Sunday, July 29, 2007

In barbershops and boardrooms, in newspaper headlines and presidential debates, Americans are questioning the billions of dollars a month being spent on a failing war, and the current "surge" in Iraq.

But we, policy-makers at every level of government, should also be questioning the "domestic surge" at home in the so-called war on drugs and urban crime. There are more guns, more technology, more cameras scanning streets, and more money spent on jails, prisons and juvenile facilities every day. The cost to American taxpayers also rises every day.

The way we have chosen to deal with crime is leading our nation away from its highest ideals and producing results that stand in stinging contradiction to who we claim to be.
In the land of the free, we lock up a greater percentage of our population than any nation. The U.S. prison population has increased 91 percent in the past 15 years. More than 7 million Americans are under some form of state or federal cor rectional supervision, and this does not include the legions of Americans in county and city facilities.

Is this the America of which we dream?

Our societal resources pour into prisons and police budgets -- the numbers are staggering. Billions of dollars are spent annually around our state, with budget growth at a pace far beyond that of our economy. Newark spends over a quarter of its budget on police, courts and jails.

Is this the America of which we dream?

Our legal system is plundering conceptions of equality. In our America, one in three African- American men in their 20s is under some form of correctional supervi sion. New Jersey leads in racial disparities in incarceration; while 14 percent of New Jersey's population is black, more than 60 percent of its prison population is African-American.

Is this the America of which we dream?

Our correctional system does not correct. We are the worst nation on the globe for recidivism. After spending billions incarcerat ing people, we release them only to see one in every two ex-offenders return in three years. We are forcing our proud law enforcement community to engage in a profound cyclical absurdity of arresting, re-arresting and re-re-arresting the same individuals time and time again.

Is this the America of which we dream?

Our nation is not expending all of these national resources on violent offenders. The majority of the Americans clogging our courts and prisons are nonviolent offenders primarily engaged in the use, sale or distribution of drugs. Violent or not, offenders should face punishment -- whether they throw litter on a Newark street or come to a Newark street to buy heroin. But when the punishment perpetuates the problem, when it destroys lives instead of correcting them, when it saps taxpayers of their precious resources, when it perpetuates the hideous legacy of racial injustice, when it aggravates cycles of poverty and undermines the very principles we seek to uphold, we must seek change.

Is this the America of which we dream? One nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all?

We arrest teenagers for drug dealing and drug use at an alarming rate. But we make little, if any, investment in alternatives to existing detention programs, or in drug treatment, counseling, or intensive mentoring and education. Instead, we lock up these young people and release them back into our communities and the cycle begins anew, with re-arrest often within a matter of days or weeks.

New Jersey's largest juvenile facility is in Essex County and based in Newark. The former warden told me that three of four incarcerated youth have been at the Essex County facility before. Yet upon re lease, we put them right back into the environment that created the juvenile drug user or dealer. As a nation, we then wash our hands of any obligation and shake our heads when that 14-year-old youth offender becomes a 20-year-old offender and is once again clogging our jails.

When an adult is released and sincerely wants to stay out of prison, he faces a host of barriers to success that we do little to address. Ex-offenders are ineligible for numerous public assistance programs. They are stripped of their driving privileges, which might allow them to get to work; even if their driving privileges have not been revoked, they cannot obtain a commercial driver's license. They are entangled in a host of legal challenges, from parking tickets that turned into warrants for their arrest while they were in jail to child-support payments that have accrued to tens of thousands of dollars.

These Americans have a host of urgent needs, from housing to hunger and, of course, to children and families that desperately need their help. And as they try to meet these needs, they face a nearly insurmountable hurdle -- a community stigma that prevents many employers from hiring them.

I meet dozens of men every week with dramatic and painful stories of what they have been doing to survive, stay out of trouble and try to maintain financial stability. I see their sense of personal victory that they have resisted the easy, yet dangerous, call back to criminal activity that can afford quick but costly answers to their financial needs. However, I also see their frustration that, despite years of walking the right path, they still face a persistent punishment that costs them the right to return to society as a full and productive member and is depriving America of an enormous swath of its poten tial human talent. New Jersey's narrow expungement laws have men caught selling drugs in their 20s still paying the price in their 30s, 40s and 50s.

Enough. As mayor of our state's largest city I have decided to join with others to do whatever is necessary for a dramatic change in crime and prisoner re-entry policy at every level of government. In the coming weeks, we will announce a series of changes we will make here in Newark to reverse this travesty; however, as important as they are, they will not be enough to adequately alter the devastating course on which we find ourselves.

We live in a profoundly interconnected world, with interwoven destinies. This is not an urban problem or a suburban problem. It is not a black problem or a white problem. If we continue on the path we have chosen in the years and decades ahead, all of New Jersey will feel greater and greater pain and be forced to pay the ever- increasing price. American greatness has always required sacrifice, but we have been sacrificing and bleeding in the most senseless fashion, diminishing our nation's glory and strength. Now more than ever we must be united for broad- based reform.

Now more than ever we must be the America of which we dream.

Obama Takes it to the Hatemongers: "America is Not a Christian Nation"

In a recent speech Obama criticized the right for "hijacking faith" and using faith to divide us rather than unite us. He has received large criticism in the media regarding his statements especially the Christian Broadcasting Network and Fox, like there is a difference (I italicize these networks because I won't link to them).

Obama defended his criticism of the right hijacking of faith. He said: "When you have pastors and television pundits who appear to explicitly coordinate with one political party; when you're implying that your fellow Americans are traitors, terrorist sympathizers or akin to the devil himself; then I think you're attempting to hijack the faith of those who follow you for your own personal or political ends."

Brody, a CBN reporter asked Obama about his critique of Christian right leaders given in a June 23 address to a convention of the United Church of Christ, the senator's denomination.

The Senator also argued to Brody that America is not a 'Christian nation.

"For my friends on the right, I think it would be helpful to remember the critical role that the separation of church and state has played in preserving not only our democracy but also our religious practice," Obama wrote to Brody, pointing to early American leaders who fought to include the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights.

"Whatever we once were, we're no longer just a Christian nation; we are also a Jewish nation, a Muslim nation, a Buddhist nation, a Hindu nation, and a nation of non-believers."

If Obama continues this approach of telling the truth honestly and forthrightly (which in my opinion he must do to separate himself from Clinton) I will be on board quick. He must be more adamant about the war of course, but I think it may be coming. There is much to like about Edwards of course, but I just do not see it happening (sorry Nicole).

A Crude Awakening

If this is the first time you are hearing about Peak Oil, you are among the majority of the population. Peak Oil doesn't mean 'running out of oil', but rather 'running out of cheap and plentiful oil'. Inexpensive oil supports our very way of life, as we know it. It is crucial for our transportation, food production, economy and basically everything that we use on a daily basis. Go to a Crude Awakening for more...

It is time for all Americans to take individual responsibility for our future. Our industrial society, built on cheap and readily available oil, must be completely redesigned and overhauled … immediately. The changes ahead are going to be very difficult; and will be hardest for the ones who didn't, or wouldn't, see it coming, and didn't prepare adequately for it. Read this excellent article on "Why Peak Oil Is Probably About Now".

Iraq Defeats Saudia Arabia

In the prestigious Asia Cup Iraq topped Saudia Arabia 1-0. The AP reported: Despite a security crackdown, curfews banning vehicles, and decrees forbidding the penchant in this part of the world to grab an AK-47 and rip off celebratory rounds, people rejoiced in the streets — and gunfire roared. It roared across Baghdad at the second-half goal against Saudi Arabia. It was deafening when the underdog Lions sealed the 1-0 victory in Jakarta, Indonesia.

The Iraq team's win dripped with symbolism, not least in the makeup of its front-line strikers: one Kurd, one Shiite, one Sunni. In Sulaimaniyah, the Kurdish city in the north, Amir Mohammed, a Shiite Arab who had moved to the area from southern Iraq, walked through the streets arm-in-arm with his Kurdish friend Shaman Aziz.

When I was a child I thought armed conflict would be a thing of the past when I reached adulthood. I thought America needed to improve its soccer game because armed conflict would obviously be settled by the world's game, futbol. A child's dream I guess. Despite the outpouring of unity yesterday think progress had this early this morning.

Within a few hours, a minibus exploded in a Baghdad market, killing at least six people. In all, 58 people nationwide were killed by bombings and attacks.
And a new report says eight million Iraqis are in need of emergency aid. The report by Oxfam said the government was failing to provide basics such as food and shelter for eight million people. It warned of a humanitarian crisis that had escalated since the 2003 invasion.

Still, for one day a Shiite, a Kurd and a Sunni could root for the same thing, a team, but for how long?

Sunday, July 29, 2007

will ferrell & pearl the landlord

laugh yourself silly with will ferrell and pearl the landlord (she's ari gold aka jeremy piven's niece)!

P E T E ' N ' H A R V E Y , T H A N K Y O U ! !

UPDATE! for those of you interested... dishwasher pete just appeared on letterman. check out the video, it's hysterical! it follows the past appearance by pete's impersonator, jess.

lately i've been struggling to find meaning in my daily grind. i love my job -- grantwriting and promoting community-based programs -- but i'm tired in a metaphysical way i never felt before. so i've been looking to others as i often do for inspiration & guidance. in the 90s while living in northern cali, when i needed comfort i escaped into the world of zines and comics. stuff like cometbus, beer frame, dirty plotte & deep girl kept me sane in the insane world around me. back then i heard alot about a dishwasher zine and the american splendor series but i never got hooked. wish i had. pete jordan aka dishwasher pete and harvey pekar of american splendor are american cultural treasures and they stand for the souls who don't quite fit the mainstream mold.

dishwasher pete washed dishes for twelve years ('89 to '01) with a goal of "busting suds" in every state. he catalogued his adventures in zines (see #1 above) throughout the years, gaining friends, fans and a shot at fame. recruited to be on the letterman show, he decided he hated the press/publicity machine, so he sent his friend jess instead to impersonate him... but this friday he returns to letterman to promote his autobiography, dishwasher-- one man's quest to wash dishes in all fifty states. i read his book in a weekend, mesmerized by his "dish dog" tales & it did lift me out of my doldrums. pete lives life on the outskirts, without apologies (he now is a bike mechanic and writer in amsterdam).
my partner started reading all the american splendor books after we saw the 2003 movie based on harvey's life and starring a terrific paul giamatti. harvey captures everyday real life in cleveland as a government file clerk, its routines, quirks and disappointments through anxiety ridden stories, anecdotes, and childhood memories. he knew robert crumb in the 60s before san francisco made him a cult legend. harvey started writing & self-publishing in '76 (see #1 at right) & recruited crumb to illustrate his daily travails. over the years, harvey recruited many illustrators to visually enhance his work-- stories ranging from car troubles, obsessions, pessimistic views of his life, money woes, wacky colleagues at the job, family struggles, and his reoccuring stints on the letterman show (where he shot back at dave, calling him a GE "shill" after dave called harvey a "dork" & made fun of his comics).
dishwasher pete and harvey... thanks for breaking from the norm, embracing that which is different & true. your spirit keeps me from losing hope.

MLB Notes: Implicating Bush in the Steroid Scandal

The Constitution is in Grave Danger

We are back from vacation and what has happened? The stock Market is about to crash dropping 500 points with more to come some speculate. The Pat Tillman story is in the news again and with vitriol indicating that Pat Tillman may have been killed by his own men for his political views. On Thursday's Countdown Olberman noted that “Corporal Tillman held a number of personal views that were unpopular within the context of the Bush administration, perhaps also within the Army.” Tillman reportedly favored John Kerry in the presidential election, opposed the invasion of Iraq, and had plans to meet with Noam Chomsky. And now Army medical examiners were suspicious of the wounds and wanted the Army medical examiners to investigate whether his death amounted to a crime.

Michael Moore has been subpoenaed by the Bush Administration. By the way I saw the movie on Monday in Portland, Maine. Any of the criticism I read about the film is unwarranted. I believe there are flaws in the film, specifically his inclusion of Guantanamo Bay inmates as getting good health care, which seems to be silly including that in the argument and other arguments about France versus the Americans I felt was simplified and not worth the effort. He makes a strong case, however for single payer health care and we should be thankful to him for his courage.

This press release by the ACLU that the Constitution is in grave danger is perfectly worded and perfectly timed. The ACLU in a statement urged the U.S. Congress to "vote to hold White House officials in contempt for refusing to cooperate with legitimate congressional subpoenas." The ACLU statement said the issue had become "a constitutional crisis that threatens to destroy the separation of powers." "Presidents have tried in the past to overreach in claiming executive privilege," said Caroline Fredrickson, director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office. "However, Congress has long served as a check to such abuses of power, slapping the president's hand when needed and pursuing contempt or enforcement actions that eventually resulted in the release of crucial information. Today's Congress must do the same if it wishes to remain a meaningful and independent branch of government."

In the wake of the ACLU's press release Patrick Leahy issued a subpoena for the draconian Karl Rove. Leahy issued the subpoenas, one to Rove and one to White House aide Scott Jennings, after consulting with Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the committee's ranking member. "The Bush-Cheney White House continues to place great strains on our constitutional system of checks and balances," Leahy added. "Not since the darkest days of the Nixon administration have we seen efforts to corrupt federal law enforcement for partisan political gain and such efforts to avoid accountability."

So, what is it going to be Congress? Are you going to go after these bastards? If Karl Rove does not have to comply then why should Michael Moore. Moore went to Cuba to help 9/11 workers get health care, Rove sought to politicize the justice system. And Robert Mueller's testimony before Congress left no doubt that Gonzalez is a serial perjure. Congress must act and soon if the 110th wants to maintain any credibility with the American people. Waiting on Iraq until September is one thing, but our Constitution hangs in the balance.
A bit of good news for the big box stores though, which I avoid with impunity. Lowe's has dropped its advertising dollars on the O'Reilly Factor. If I had to go somewhere then...Lowe's it is...

Friday, July 27, 2007

Is Anything Sacred?

The picture to the right says it all. Sports, which, when I was a teenager, meant everything, has given us, the public, the collective middle finger. Whether it`s the Tour de France, NBA and its mafia-controlled refs, MLB and its juiced-up home run hitters, or the NFL and its dog-fighting, dog-torturing, thugs, sport has been letting me down. It makes it hard for me to escape to it like I used to. It seems to be just as corrupt as the rest of reality. Which makes me sad, but not too surprised.

Money has an amazing power on things. Treating players, people who run with a ball, ride a bicycle, or hit a baseball like royalty, has made them act like royalty. Like the Bush administration, many athletes at the highest-level seem to believe that they are untouchable. They have money, status, and power...no one can get to them. And, in recent years, despite the increased testing, investigations, etc., the scandals keep on coming. Don't these guys care what they`re doing to their respective sports, to their countries, to their futures?

Money. It has a way of warping minds, erasing memories, and making everything seem possible. We keep paying to go see the Barrys, Vicks' and Tours. They keep laughing to the bank. And Congress keeps trying to subpoena Rove. Connect the dots until you spell IMPUNITY.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

A Big Deal

If you want an inconvenient truth, there it is: that the very notion of convenience upon which our civilization rests is a lie that is killing us. (Garret Keizer, Harper`s)
The line was way too long for 2:30 in the morning. I was waiting in JFK after getting off my flight from Panama, and I had no interest in standing for an hour on line. Unfortunately, the choice wasn`t mine...customs officials are not known for their leniency. So I waited with the hundred or more passengers for the opportunity of being questioned by a tired-looking, grumpy government official.
slowly, the line inched forward. Amazingly, I made it to my turn, and began a conversation that lasted much longer than I`d hoped. My interrogator displayed much more energy than I`d expected. I passed the test, and moved on to search the airport bowels for my suitcase. Upon finding it, my ordeal was almost complete. When I finally met my parents in the terminal lobby, we headed out to the expansive parking complex. I say "complex" because "lot" would not do justice to the sheer size of the place. It's huge, and for good reason.
I was back in America, and Americans love big. Especially when it comes to cars. We just can't do with a car that gets us around, fits the groceries, and isn't going to flatten the other car in an accident. We need a tank. Driving is war, and a soldier doesn't go into battle without the best weapons. Everyone knows that. If I hadn't been living in Brazil for the last 3 years, i probably wouldn't have been so shocked at the state of passenger vehicles in the U.S. Yes, I have always been a bit surprised when I see people driving around Manhattan in a Hummer, a truck that demands about three parking spaces. However, when you reside in a country in which most cars could fit in the trunk of a Ford Expedition, coming back to New York never ceases to take my breath away.
I got to thinking. If people, especially Americans, keep buying these behemoths, can climate change be avoided, or even slowed down? These people, who drive these SUVs, are actually going to go along with a paradigm shift that requires us to consume less? To live smaller? Can we actually live with that culture shock? Do Americans, on average, really care about the effect of greenhouse gases on Sub-Saharan African countries?
The JFK airport parking lot, in the next few years, may hold the answer.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

chambermaid a k a saira rao visits n y c

UPDATE! saira rao's reading last thursday in nyc was fabulous. she spoke (to a large, loving crowd) about her journey in writing the book, the extreme negative reactions, & her next project. then she read an excerpt about the judge careening into a sinkhole. great stuff. she signed my book (along with a friend's who joined me), so i was on cloud nine. saira was just in philly so check out her website (see below) for more appearances near you!

also, more recent press & gossip about the "real judge"! -- finally some positive media support for saira...

since my last post on chambermaid, i ran out to my favorite bookstore (three lives & company in the west village), bought it & started reading. well 2 days later, it was all over. i just couldn't get enough of sheila raj's judicial (mis)adventures. the whole time i was reading, i thought-- yeah, this would make a perfect series (it's slated for lifetime)! i felt physically exhausted by sheila's endless ordeals with her wacko judge (and the greasy, dancing bun on the top of her head), her efforts to stay sane and find a trustworthy soul in the system while navigating the illogical rules of the "torture chamber" and enduring the constant attacks on her ethnicity with biting wit. i feel a special bond with sheila (and brilliant writer saira rao) who validated much of what i felt during my painful clerkship year and i especially cheered at sheila's attempts to outsmart janet, the bible-thumping, ass-kissing, do-nothing secretary to the judge.

i don't want to reveal much of the plot or whether the ornery (to put it mildly) honorable friedman ever shows a heart... but whether you suffered as a law clerk in your own "torture chamber" or just to laugh at the intensity of over-intellectualized young lawyer go-getters, pick up chambermaid... you won't be disappointed & you'll find a fresh, real heroine in sheila.

meet "shelia" in person-- check out saira rao's upcoming appearances. i'll be there, ready to cheer for aggrieved clerks everywhere...

in nyc: 7pm on thursday, july 19 at barnes and noble at sixth avenue and 21st street.

Dispatches from Cascadia Vol. II

Critical Mass – the infamous impromptu street protests known for swarming the streets with leg muscle and blinking lights, enraging motorists, and occasionally clashing with the over reactive police -- has deflated in Portland, the city often dubbed “Bike City U.S.A.” For years, Critical Mass rides would draw 300 to 500 cyclists, from all walks of life. These rides became famous for their combination of celebration and activism, spiced with civil disobedience and a little bit of anarchy for good measure. At its apex, one 2003 ride drew more than 1,500 participants. But this year, things have slowed down, and the monthly rush-hour gatherings have struggled to top a dozen pedalers.

Some folks say they stopped participating in the 14-year-old ride because of what they see as draconian police patrols. But others questioned whether a protest against automobile dominance is needed any longer in a town widely considered the nation's most bike-friendly.

Personally, I think bike riders in Portland have found other outlets for their valuable creativity and awareness. So, instead of risking confrontation with an increasingly militarized, pepper spray wielding, stun gun firing Portland Police Department (the source of a future Dispatch from the Republic) more than 800 bicycling Cascadians took to the streets recently to participate in something far more productive and a whole lot more revealing: this year's World Naked Bike Ride through the streets of downtown Portland. Now that is Democracy in Action!

**submitted by my Cousin Marc, Portland, OR. (for more on his NW life, check out his blog, the wandering road.)

At Least Someone is Paying Attention

Gonzales v. Carhart certainly pissed me off, as it did anyone who was paying attention and has a heart. Therefore, I am delighted to see a mainstream women’s publication inviting thoughtful writers to discuss the decision in the Elle feature, The Incredible Shrinking Woman.

One writer compares the language used in this opinion with the language in Roe v. Wade. The author notes, “We hear about "the life of the unborn" and "the life within the woman," but not once about the life of the woman. Indeed, the most important—the only important—thing about her life is its potential for motherhood.” She goes on to compare Justice Kennedy’s patronizing tone with other arguments used to keep women down such as “You are too mentally challenged to master the rigors of a higher education, so we'll keep you out of universities for your own good.”

With a publication like Elle speaking out against the anti-choice agenda, maybe there is hope for this country. Or maybe they are just going to get a lot of angry letters to the editor. I hope for the former.

a poem

I`d never read any of Charles Bukowski until this week. My younger brother recommended him, and I have had some time to read some of his poems. They hit me like a baseball...I couldn`t stop reading one after the other. He wrote for another time, but his words are so true today. They will be true for a long time, I think. People are people, and he really got people down pat. that, to me, is a great writer. Here is a short untitled poem:

you begin by starving in cheap
and you end up by
asking your lawyer
to keep an eye on your
tax accountant.

make a poem out of

Monday, July 23, 2007

A Man to Cheer For

Yes, I am a Yankees fan. I will start with that caveat. But this story is not just for Bronx Bombers fans. It is the story of a player who has shown that trusting in little guys, and not just hired guns from all over, can work out for all involved. At least, it has so far for the Yanks, baseball and Andy Phillips. Pictured to the right, Andy has come up from the minors, and has hit around .325 since. He has done this while dealing with the onset of cancer in his wife, her recovery in Belize, and the ordeal around it. He has done this with a smile on his face, and a real appreciation for the support he has received from baseball fans.

As the NYT baseball blog, Bats, wrote, we don`t know how long this ride will continue. what we do know is that a seemingly all-around good guy is fielding, hitting and representing the Yankees pretty damn well. That makes me proud to cheer for the Yanks.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Jena Six, a photo story

From the town folk perspective. A little dated as Mychal Bell was convicted and may serve up to 22 years.

A Race Trial

This is short and sweet and explains the situation perfectly. Sign the petition.

Racism Rising its Ugly Head in the Deep South

Jena, Lousiana has become the scene of a race trial. I came across an article this morning and it shocked me. A town 220 miles north of New Orleans is embraced in a race trial that hearkens back 50 years to the old south. It began last August when a black student asked the head teacher if he and others could break tradition and sit under a tree during breaks as white students do.

The next day there were three nooses hanging from the tree, a "prank" the school considered a practical joke as did the white students. The white students were given in-school suspensions for what many of the black students considered an open threat. Nooses to black students meant the word "nigger" and lynching which is a time honored horrific tradition in the south.

The following week, Black students staged a protest under the tree. At a school assembly soon after, Jena district attorney Reed Walters, appearing with local police officers, warned Black students against further unrest. “I can make your lives disappear with a stroke of my pen,” he threatened.

Racial tensions broke out in this tiny Louisiana town. Most whites live up on "snob" hill in the town well off, while most of the blacks live in trailers and wooden shacks with rubbish in the streets. The town populations do not mix, but began confronting one another. On December 4th six black students allegedly confronted a white student and assaulted him. Some called the incident a "fist fight." Others describe the incident differently: "In the first weekend of December, a Black student was assaulted by a group of white students, and a white graduate of Jena High School threatened several Black students with a shotgun. The following Monday, white students taunted the Black student who was assaulted over the weekend, and one of the white students was beaten up."

Within hours, six Black students were arrested. “I think the district attorney is pinning it on us to make an example of us,” said Purvis, one of the black students involved. “In Jena, people get accused of things they didn't do a lot.”
Regardless, the black students are now charged with attempted 2nd. degree murder and conspiracy to commit 2nd. degree murder. That same white student was found that night at his baptist church as "his usual smiling self." This is all from a school fight.
Bail was eventually set absurdly high and most of the students have been kept in custody until the trial begins tomorrow. The students face up to 50 years in jail. The prosecutor said in his defense of the charges: 'I will not tolerate this type of behavior. To those who act in this manner I tell you that you will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and with the harshest crimes that the facts justify. When you are convicted I will seek the maximum penalty allowed by law. I will see to it that you never again menace the students at any school in this parish.' He should have added "if you are black" because that is exactly what is happening.

Let justice be served. Thanks to some "outsiders" the NAACP and the ACLU are now involved and aiding in the defense of these young men. The more attention that this town and trial receives the less there is a chance that these young men will be railroaded. Find out for yourself what is going on in the deep south.

Update: I received several messages regarding this incident. I decided to re-post the original article and an update to what happened since. It is getting worse. These kids are being railroaded in what appears to be strictly about race. Do something. Read below.

The first trial ended last month, and Mychal Bell, who has been in prison since December, was convicted of aggravated battery and conspiracy to commit aggravated battery (both felonies) by an all-white jury in a trial where his public defender called no witnesses. During his trial, Mychal's parents were ordered not to speak to the media and the court prohibited protests from taking place near the courtroom or where the judge could see them. Mychal is scheduled to be sentenced on July 31st, and could go to jail for 22 years.
Theo Shaw's trial is next. He will finally make bail this week.The Jena Six are lucky to have parents and loved ones who are fighting tooth and nail to free them. They have been threatened but they are standing strong. We know that if the families have to go it alone, their sons will be a long time coming home. But if we act now, we can make a difference.

Join me in demanding that Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco get involved to make sure that justice is served for Mychal Bell, and that DA Reed Walters drop the charges against the five boys who have not yet gone to trial. Know that the only reason these boys are being prosecuted is because they are black.

Barista Boy wonders...

From The Coffee Front:

"It is one thing to know how to ask questions,
It is another thing to know how to listen to the answers."

what's happening in hoboken...

ahhh, summer in hoboken... the city quiets down as many flock to the jersey shore and other beach locales. what to do if you are city bound this weekend? here are 3 suggestions to enjoy the sunny weather & neighborhood feel of our mile square city...

**it's time for the 97th annual st ann's italian festival (7/20 to 7/26) where you'll find entertainment nightly, yummy food, crafts, rides & raffles...

**right around the corner from st ann's, on monroe street (#720), you'll find a much welcomed new addition to the neighborhood-- the cheese store, featuring cheeses from all over, charcuterie, olives, sandwiches and more. i just enjoyed (on the second day of chung park's new business) a wonderful fresh mozzarella, basil and roasted pepper sandwich on a baguette. yum!

**stroll no further, in the same location (monroe center for the arts), to visit rubee's closet -- for an amazing sale (up to 50%) on clothes and accessories through the month of july. after my first visit to the store when i met lovely & stylish owner beverly, i am a devoted shopper. today i bought another drifter long sleeved, layered & patterned tee-shirt at a ridiculously low price.

Former Reagan Official Warns of Coming Bush Police State and Keith's Special Comment

See Keith's scathing "special comment" last night regarding the Bush administration trying to place the blame on Hillary Clinton. One of the many political smear tactics these slimy people engage in...Keith rails against this kind of propaganda and tells him to fight his own war. Also see at Rawstory a new executive order that allows the government to seize the assets of anyone who interferes with Iraq policy. And the article further asserts a former Reagan official is warning of the upcoming "Bush police state" and an imminent attack upon Iran.

Dusty Baker Recalls Hank Aaron HR Record

As it becomes increasingly likely Barry will pass Hank - I thought I would post Dusty Baker's recollection of the event of Hank breaking the Babe's record. Hank Aaron's consistency helped him to establish a number of important hitting records during his 23-year career. In addition to the home run record, Aaron holds the MLB records for the the most career runs batted in (2,297), the most career extra base hits (1,477); and the most career total bases (6,856). He is also in the top five for career hits (third behind Rose and Cobb) and runs.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Young Republican Chickenhawks

Draft College Republicans. This is very funny.

Tom Tomorrow and the News Business

Bill Clinton and Immigration

This morning a colleague and I were discussing Bill Clinton and his remarkable abilities as a politician. I told a story of someone I knew in D.C. who directed Arlington Cemetery and met him once and had a brief two minute conversation with him. The next year walking through a crowd at the annual ceremony he stopped and said hello to my friend and referenced the conversation he had with her the year before. She was dumbfounded and it is mind boggling how intelligent he was and is. It makes me sad, however because a man of such potential in my opinion ruined the democratic party. My colleague mentioned the immigration bill passed under Clinton's watch when Congress passed legislation making "deportation a mandatory penalty for a long list of crimes, including minor, non-violent offenses committed years before the laws went into effect." Ironically a report released today indicates just how bad it has gotten.

Human Rights Watch said in a report today the mandatory deportation of legal immigrants convicted of a crime, even a minor one, has separated an estimated 1.6 million children and adults, including US citizens and lawful permanent residents, from their non-citizen family members, Human Rights Watch said in a report released today.

The Press Release says:

“The laws are not only cruel in their rigidity, they are senseless,” said Alison Parker, senior researcher for Human Rights Watch’s US Program and author of the report. “How do you explain to a child that her father has been sent thousands of miles away and can never come home simply because he forged a check?”

Prior to 1997, immigrants who committed a crime were permitted to go before an immigration judge, who could exercise his or her discretion in imposing penalties. However, the legislation Congress passed in 1996 precluded immigration judges from considering whether deportation would be excessively harsh in light of the immigrants’ family relationships, community ties, US military service records, or the possibility of persecution if returned to their country of origin. The deportation takes place after the non-citizen has completed the terms of the sentence imposed for the crime.

According to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) data included in the report, 64.6 percent of immigrants deported for crimes in 2005 had been convicted of non-violent offenses, including non-violent theft offenses such as shoplifting. Read the Full Report here.

This happened under Clinton, not Bush. So did the Telecommunications Act of 1996, Welfare Reform, NAFTA, etc. The list goes on. Let us not go back to the Clinton years although they were indisputably better than now. Let us move on to a place where the government supports the people no matter the color of their skin, their gender, sexual orientation and yes their country of origin. Because no human is illegal.

Gotta Pay to Play

As someone who has $50k in school debt and a passion for justice, I frequently wish that progressive activist jobs paid considerably more. In fact, because of the lack of scratch attached to these jobs, I went back to get my Masters. At the time, I lived in Austin, Texas, where everyone in progressive politics is over-educated and over-qualified. So you know what that means. Exploitation of the young and politically aware. The land where internships are unpaid and entry-level positions barely hit the $25,000 mark. Ah…doesn’t it feel good to give back to your country?

So you can imagine how I related to the article, After College Ends, So Does Activism. It talks of the canvassing that young progressives are forced to do to break onto the political scene, the lack of health insurance, the shitty hours and the even shittier pay.

What does it mean for our country’s future when we don’t mentor the younger generation and give them an opportunity to learn about politics? The author notes, and I wholeheartedly concur, “The importance of engaging and gainfully employing young progressives is hard to overstate, both for its immediate practicality and the long-term sustainability of the left. By ignoring progressive grads' economic constraints, the progressive movement -- activists and funders -- are squandering an immense opportunity to utilize the ideology, size and energy of the post-graduate generation.”

So, those of you with decision-making abilities start paying better and provide a little health insurance. It’s the least we can do for our future.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

d u h! it's STREET ART!

while browsing on hoboken411 (which boasts itself as the NEW online guide for hoboken), i found this:
the blogger titled his post, anti war sign, and wrote, "Spotted this rogue sign someone nailed to the street pole near Maxwell Place on 11th and Hudson Streets. Thought about taking it as a souvenir, but wanted to see how long it’d stay on. It shows bombs, what appears to be some kind of chemical (hence the umbrella) and backwards E’s on the “NINE” and the “TIME”.
What would be your translation for those that don’t get it? How long do you think before it’s removed?"

rogue??? that's a slightly loaded adjective!! we all know what rogue implies & it ain't nice. well, hmmm, you don't get it? it's street art & it's subversive, that's the entire point -- if you can't figure out the message, then i won't tell ya. bets on when it will be removed? taking it as a souvenir? how quaint. damn, this town needs more subversive art & activists. (whenever we put up anti-war stickers around town, on community billboards, signs, etc., sadly & predictably, they were promptly removed.)

where's banksy when you need him?! see his graffiti street art above and much more on flickr.

Nation's Poor Hit by Housing Crunch

I have been meaning to post this for a while. So, it is a bit old, but (I think) very relevant.

There is a phenomenon taking place in urban and suburban communities, but according to the article has recently exploded in rural communities. A new report by HUD says the lack of affordable homes for poor families is the nation’s No. 1 housing problem and undermines the stability and security of families and communities nationwide. The report found that 6 million impoverished households used most of their monthly earnings for housing or lived in substandard conditions in 2005. That’s an increase of 16 percent, or 817,000 families, since 2003. Further, The number of rural families facing this dilemma grew by 51 percent to nearly 1 million households over the same two-year span. At the same time, these struggling households saw their average monthly incomes decline while their average rent payments increased. The level at which housing is affordable is 30% of your income, the standard set back in 1935.

The federal government is not helping. Only one in four eligible families are being helped. I can corroborate this qualitatively. Legal Services office are inundated with calls from needy clients who cannot pay their rent and there is just nowhere to send them. I serve clients in mostly family matters, but the issues often intersect and frustration is abound in the housing advocacy community because of a lack of resources for clients.

"There definitely has been a diminution of federal support for low-income housing in recent years," said Nicolas Retsinas, director of the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University. "Clearly, it says there are other priorities, and this is not on the short list."
The lack of assistance, soaring rents, slow wage growth and a shrinking inventory of affordable apartments have made it nearly impossible for millions of low-income renters to adequately house their families.
One of the most startling problems is also that subsidized housing is being abandoned for condominiums.

For every new affordable housing unit constructed, two are demolished, abandoned or become condominiums or expensive rentals, according to the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation. Nearly 375,000 U.S. apartments have been converted to condominiums since 2002, according to Real Capital Analytics, a New York real estate consulting firm. For more on this situation here.

Another rising problem from the San Francisco Chronicle. Foreclosures continued to rise throughout the country, the state (California) and the Bay Area in June, according to a report to be released today. Nationally, 164,644 foreclosure notices were filed in June, up 87 percent from June of last year, said RealtyTrac.com, an online marketplace for foreclosure properties. In the Bay Area, the number of foreclosure notices was 5,018, almost triple the 1,780 in June 2006. Subprime loans are said to be the culprit, which are loans to people with tarnished credit, as well as loans for 100 percent financing.

Of course this problem hits those at the bottom rung the hardest. But, it is sure to travel up the ladder. Many believed a housing crash is imminent, though it seems it may not occur so quickly until the blood is finally drained from our economy. Tax breaks for the rich, endless war and no bid contracts for multinational corporations (on our dime) is not only contributing, but is directly responsible for the lack of resources states and locales can put toward housing for the needy.

Why is Iraq in Chaos? NO END IN SIGHT Learn the Truth! 7/27

Sorry, I had to remove this and repost because it was causing problems with the blog. www.noendinsight.com. It opens in D.C. and NYC. on July 27th.

More Senators to Fall in the DC Madame Scandal?

Remember during Clinton's impeachment Larry Flynt said he would make the Rethuglicans pay for their hypocrisy and he did, House Speaker Livingston was forced to resign. Now he is claiming he has shocking news.

KING: And were most of the clients in Washington?

PALFREY: They were all in Washington and some in Baltimore, the Washington, D.C./Baltimore Corridor and surrounding areas.

KING: Larry, without naming them, because we stand under legal protection here, are others coming?

FLYNT: Oh, yes. We've gotten 10 times more leads from the recent ad in "The Post" than we got during the Clinton impeachment. Unbelievable. We've got...

KING: Ten times more leads?


KING: Does that mean you have phone numbers that you're following up?

FLYNT: Not just phone numbers.

KING: Names?

FLYNT: We've got good leads. We've got over 300 initially. And they're down to about 30 now which is solid.

KING: When are you going to print?

FLYNT: Well, the last thing now is we don't know if we want to let it to drip, drip, drip or we want to go with everything at once.

KING: You mean you might release 30 names at once?

FLYNT: A good possibility.

KING: Will we be -- I don't want to get into names yet. Will we be shocked?


KING: Were you shocked?

FLYNT: I was shocked, especially at one senator but...

KING: One senator especially? FLYNT: Yes.

If I had a wish list who would be on it? First, would be Lieberman. But, I don't think he is actually capable of having sex. Hillary? Probably not. I know John Kerry has had his transgressions in the past. But, Flynt is claiming mostly Rethuglicans. This could be fun. Who would be on your wish list?

Senate Pulls the Iraq Withdrawal Bill

The Senate voted 52-47 (a majority of support) to end debate and vote up or down on the Iraq withdrawal plan. Yes, fifty-two Senators voted to end debate, but because one needs 60 votes to end the filibuster, the bill had to be scrapped. This is well-known, but for Rethuglicans to try and spin this as a "circus" is preposterous. Kudos to the Rethuglicans who voted with the Dems. Republican Sens. Olympia Snowe (ME), Susan Collins (ME), Chuck Hagel (NE), and Gordon Smith (OR) voted to kill the filibuster. Shame on the sycophant Lieberman. Roll call is here.

So, Reid pulled the bill and he explained:

Because Republicans continue to block votes on important amendments to the Defense Authorization bill, we can make no further progress on Iraq and this bill at this time.
For these reasons, I have temporarily laid aside the Defense Authorization bill and have entered a motion to reconsider.

But let me be clear to my Republican colleagues — I emphasize the word “temporarily”. We will do everything in our power to change course in Iraq. We will do everything in our power to complete consideration of a Defense Authorization bill. We must do both.
And just to remind my Republican colleagues — even if this bill had passed yesterday, its provisions would not take effect until October.

So we will come back to this bill as soon as it is clear we can make real progress. To that end, I have asked the Democratic Whip and Democratic Manager of the bill to sit down with their counterparts to work on a process to address all outstanding issues related to this bill so the Senate can return to it as soon as possible.

Pulling the bill leaves the possibility that the bill will be voted on in the future. Here is to Reid and the dems for making the Rethuglicans look like bafoons. Let's keep it up.

eco-chic or eco-trash??!!

a month ago, in my post bag the habit, i linked to a fun canvas bag alternative, i'm not a plastic bag. since then, i've seen a few around hoboken... but in today's NYT's urban eye email... check out how consumerized & ultra hip the bag became... $300 on ebay!

i'm trying to think positively since more folks are buying canvas bags, but is it only a hipster statement or will the buyers ditch plastic?

"They caused rioting in Asia and created a stir in London, and today, Anya Hindmarch’s “I’m Not a Plastic Bag” totes will go on sale at Whole Foods. The slogan-emblazoned canvas sacks are meant to replace those wasteful plastic grocery bags (100 billion of which are thrown away each year in the United States) and, Marian Burros says, make you fashionably eco-chic as well. The designer herself will be on hand to promote them; given that they’re going for as much as $300 on eBay, start queuing now.

Bags, $15 each; limit three per customer, at local Whole Foods (doors open at 8 a.m.). Anya Hindmarch is scheduled to be at the new Whole Foods at Houston Street and Bowery, Lower East Side, starting at 8 a.m."

Extremist CHRISTIAN Crazy Training Kids for WAR and Evil!

Jesus Camp. wow.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Walmart to Sell Bible Action Figures: This is Not a Joke.

Walmart will begin selling Bible action figures aimed at Christian parents who would rather their children play with Noah, Samson and Moses rather than comic book characters (Satan!). The toys are made by the company one2believe (as a reminder, not a joke). David Socha the Executive Director said: "If you're very religious, it's a battle for your children's minds and what they're playing with and pretending. There are remakes out there of Satan and evil things," Socha said.

The toys, based on biblical stories, include a 3-inch figure of Daniel in the lion's den, a 12-inch talking Jesus doll and 13-inch Samson action figure. This just makes me feel sorry for whoever has to play with these, but...

Do I really need another reason to not shop at Walmart?

Hoboken Has the Best Singles Scene in the Country According to Money Magazine

Click here for the CNN video. Because of the proximity to Manhattan, the homey feel, the bars and the book stores. Ahhh excuse me? Bookstores? There is one. Barnes and friggen Noble. If you count the local Symposium (which I don't) it is two. There isn't a movie theater either. But, there are lots of bars.
It shows you how arbitrary and how unresearched these pieces are and maybe someone is actually paying for the advertisement. Don't get me wrong, Hoboken has lots to like, but bookstores ain't one of them.

A Small Ode to Al Gore's Inconvenient Truth


God Did The Bang
Men Did The Gang Bang

(from the coffee front, barista boy)

New Intelligence National Estimate Released

Some of the Key Findings at Think Progress:

Al Qaeda has “regenerated key elements of its Homeland attack capability”:

Al-Qa’ida is and will remain the most serious terrorist threat to the Homeland, as its central leadership continues to plan high-impact plots, while pushing others in extremist Sunni communities to mimic its efforts and to supplement its capabilities. We assess the group has protected or regenerated key elements of its Homeland attack capability, including: a safehaven in the Pakistan Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), operational lieutenants, and its top leadership.

Iraq has strengthened al Qaeda, which will seek to “leverage the contacts and capabilities” gained in the war:

Of note, we assess that al-Qa’ida will probably seek to leverage the contacts and capabilities of al-Qa’ida in Iraq (AQI), its most visible and capable affiliate and the only one known to have expressed a desire to attack the Homeland.

Al Qaeda’s association with “al Qaeda in Iraq” (AQI) helps to “energize the broader Sunni extremist community” and “recruit and indoctrinate operatives”:

In addition, we assess that its association with AQI helps al-Qa’ida to energize the broader Sunni extremist community, raise resources, and to recruit and indoctrinate operatives, including for Homeland attacks.

Read the Report here. Could we have given our country over to anyone less competent in 2000? Gore? Bradley? McCain? Nader? What the F***was anyone thinking?

Monday, July 16, 2007

P O W E R T O T H E P E O P L E ! ! !

a brilliant piece of illustration (for a noam chomsky article & the cover of lemonde), by my brazilian friend renato alarcao.

When you Don't know what to say, ask a question

Over viewing and Over hearing a big conversation today in the coffee headquarter by my counter, people were busy talking about the up coming election, the candidates for the future, the candidates of the past, some former presidents, the current one. With so many emotions, opinions and view, the talk just went louder and louder, hands were flying in the air, some participants rising up and than sitting again - a full show for the masses. And all i could come up with was the philosophical question that echoed in my head:

What is better? A president that screws an intern and then denies it, or is it a president that screws us all and then denies it?

Senator Reed to Force Filibuster

This is a start. In response to Republicans obstructionism to block the Reed/Levin Iraq legislation Majority Leader Harry Reid plans to force the Republicans into an all night filibuster. Remember the filibuster? The hated horrific tactic the democrats never used, but only threatened and Republicans nearly abolished the rule. Here is to the hypocricy of it all. But, Senator Reid is responding to calls from the blogoshpere and he listened.

Senator Reid:

I would like to inform the Republican leadership and all my colleagues that we have no intention of backing down. If Republicans do not allow a vote on Levin/Reed today or tomorrow, we will work straight through the night on Tuesday. The American people deserve an open and honest debate on this war, and they deserve an up or down vote on this amendment to end it.

Parents Win One in New Jersey

NJ Div. of Youth and Family Servs. v. G.L. In this decision the Court considered whether a parent may be subjected to termination of her parental rights for failing to eliminate the harm to the child posed by her spouse. The trial court terminated the defendant-mother's parental rights because of her continuing relationship with the father, who earlier had been convicted of child endangerment for shaking to death another of his and the mother's children. The Court reversed. NJSA 30:4C-15.1 allows for termination of parental rights based upon behavior, not beliefs. So long as G.L. was an able mother and conducted herself in a way that secured the child’s safety, the statutory standard for terminating her parental rights was not met. There is no reason why G.L. cannot maintain her belief in and relationship with her husband so long as she does not live with him or allow him unsupervised visits with the child.

This is an update from a post on May 7th. The court sided with the Public Defender and Legal Services of New Jersey in its analysis indicating one parent cannot be held responsible for the fault of another. This is an especially important decision for poor parents in New Jersey, specifically poor mothers. 95% of the parents who come into DYFS care are poor and most are women, a shocking, but true statistic.

More on Dictatorship and the Bush Veto

Nancy Pelosi has on her site a listing of the bills President Bush has either vetoed, set to veto or has said he will veto. In his first six years with the rubber stamp Congress he vetoed a total of one bill, Stem Cell Research. Everything else Bush disagreed with, usually parts of bills, he issued his infamous "signing statements.

In May, he vetoed his second bill, the Iraq war spending bill. Now, Bush is set to veto the increase in the Child Health Insurance Bill. The program is set to expire on September 30th. The reasoning given for the veto is: “The proposal would dramatically expand the Children’s Health Insurance Program, adding nonpoor children to the program, and more than doubling the level of spending,” Mr. Fratto said. “This will have the effect of encouraging many to drop private coverage, to go on the government-subsidized program.”

This is not all, however Bush has threatened nearly all of the new Congress' work. Bills either passed or in the works that Bush is threatening a veto:

The College Cost Reduction Act - H.R. 2669
Homeland Security Appropriations - H.R. 2638
State-Foreign Operations Appropriations - H.R. 2764
Interior-Environment Appropriations - H.R. 2643
The Energy Price Gouging Act – H.R. 1252
The No Oil Producing and Exporting Cartels (NOPEC) Act - H.R. 2264
FY 2008 Defense Authorization Bill - H.R. 1585
FY 2008 Homeland Security Authorization - H.R. 1684
Hate Crimes Prevention Act – H.R. 1592
D.C. Voting Rights Act – H.R. 1905
Rail and Mass Transit Security Act - H.R. 1401
Presidential Records Act Amendments of 2007 - H.R. 1255
Whistle blower Protection Enhancement Act of 2007 - H.R. 985
Reauthorizing Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund - H.R. 720
Employee Free Choice Act - H.R. 800
Requiring Medicare to Negotiate Lower Prescription Drug Prices - H.R. 4

I have been especially tough on Congress since taking office and not holding firm on the promise to end the war, but what are they to do with this kind of opposition with a stroke of the pen? I say stop being a bunch of pansies and start playing hardball. Stop whining the Bush administration doesn't play by the rules and expose them.

The Gods, Drums, Echoes (take your pick) of War

This morning two suicide bombers struck northern Kirkuk killing 73 people and wounding 178 more. "The death toll is expected to rise as rescuers frantically dig through concrete and rubble in hopes of finding survivors." The NY Times said: "One bomb severely damaged a headquarters building of one of the main Kurdish political parties, the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan, but early reports did not indicate how many of those injured were affiliated with the party." The attacks come amid increasing ethnic tensions in Kirkuk, an oil-rich city 150 miles north of Baghdad and 60 miles west of Sulaymaniyah, the largest city in the P.U.K.-controlled region of Kurdistan.

This bombings come as the war debate is heating up. And the drums of war are calling for an attack on Iran. On Wednesday the Senate passed a resolution 97-0 calling for a censure of Iran because of complicity in the killing of U.S. soldiers. Senator Brownback of Kansas declared "I am ready to Strike Iran." Then there is this: Cheney is Winning the Debate on Iraq.

The balance in the internal White House debate over Iran has shifted back in favour of military action before President George Bush leaves office in 18 months, the Guardian has learned. The shift follows an internal review involving the White House, the Pentagon and the state department over the last month. Although the Bush administration is in deep trouble over Iraq, it remains focused on Iran. A well-placed source in Washington said: "Bush is not going to leave office with Iran still in limbo.

It is clear these ass clowns will not let Iran go. They have Lieberman doing their dirty work after funding his reelection in Connecticut, clearly as an independent neocon. Congress has to get tougher to stop these assclowns. If that means impeachment so be it. The Republicans think they have the votes and the power to stop the Democrats in any capacity to defund or pull the troops.
This is a dictatorship, there is no way around it.