Sunday, September 30, 2007 is good...

today i wandered around the hoboken art and music festival, dodging the fried-dough eating people and avoiding the crowds at the sand art booths while searching for the hob'art booth and the "green street" on newark and washington streets, a tiny oasis of environmental consciousness in the sea of consumption. (actually, i can't resist buying a little something: femi ford's poppies notecards & notebook and a reusableable hemp bag to benefit the quality of life coalition in hoboken.)

so, to support the coalition & raise more green awareness (hoboken sure needs it!), here are some help the environment tips for the week:

  • stop that extra sucking -- buy the gaiam smart power strip and conserve energy & money. even if your electronic devices are turned off, they continue to suck power from the socket plug, but the gaiman strip cuts power to everything!

  • no more virgins -- instead of buying virgin fiber paper towels, napkins or tissues, try 100% recycled ones & save tons o' trees. or better still, just stop buying paper products (like viva towels) to mop up messes and use regular washable towels & cloths.

  • be sappy -- buy 100% recycled (veggie ink too) sappycards to show you care.

  • love the locals -- find a farmers market near you and shop for local produce.

have a green tip? share it with us!

the sarah silverman program

sassy sarah is back on comedy central, her new season starts this wednesday, 10/3 at 10:30pm. watch it and be ready to cringe while you laugh...

Striking Back at Limbaugh

If you haven't heard Rush' comments about phone soldiers here it is and Vote Vets calls him on his hypocrisy (yet again). Will there be a resolution in the Senate condemning his statements. Of course not. Rethuglicans are actually trying to defend them.

Jon Stoltz, a soldier made a challenge to Rush: My challenge to you, then, is to have me on the show and say all of this again, right to the face of someone who served in Iraq. I’ll come on any day, any time. Not only will I once again explain why your comments were so wrong, but I will completely school you on why your refusal to seek a way out of Iraq is only aiding al Qaeda and crippling American security.

Mario Cuomo on the Power to Declare War

Mario Cuomo is making the argument that Democrats are abdicating their responsibility in giving Bush the authority to declare war. Governor Cuomo is my modern day political hero, he is smarter than everyone else (including Clinton), more articulate than everyone else and respects the rule of law. Where have you gone Mario Cuomo? We need you more than ever.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Private Joke

I found out yesterday, that I'm not eligible for a rent control apartment due to the fact that i make too little money a year. Apparently, living proudly with a kid, making about 20,000$ a year, paying monthly rent of 1,200$ a month, without owning money to anyone, without the use of any social help and with a self dignity that feed this almost impossible task of being a self sufficient parent is not good enough for a rent control apartment, that can save me around 400$-500$ a month and make my life a bit more bearable.
Add to that, the absurdity on my face, hearing that from the cold face administrator (that obviously was annoyed by me making use of her precious time) was received as aggressive and rude, more than that, i have found very few people who share my view of this absurdity.....
Am i sane or maybe i am the insane in this loving world?!

...calling all peeps...

in my quest to find and document street art in the hoboken area, i've been directed to (thanks to an artist-friend) the agitators collective, a group of artists whose mission is to collectively engage the jersey city community through "the happy burden of art making."

check out their 7,000 peeps installation from may 06. (i used to love peeps, fresh out of the freezer, but i gave the chemical concoctions up for good...)

also see the photos of how the collective put this peeps parade together... happy peeping!

and if you like this stuff, check out the agitators collective and many other artists at the jersey city artists studio tour on october 6-7.

mets fan laments and still believes

the mets -- revived!

13-0, mets over the marlins (lastings hit 2 home runs, john maine almost threw a no-hitter)... but does that ease the pain of the fans?

the subversive garden's good friend and cuny law school classmate, dan caputi, voiced his faith in today's newsday:

Dan Caputi, 35, attorney, Huntington
"Torture. It's been gut wrenching, especially the way they take the lead and give it back. My girlfriend is worried I'm going to do something drastic. Come Monday morning, if the Mets have been eliminated, I'll do the next best thing: start rooting hard against the Yankees."
(Photo by Charles Eckert / September 28, 2007)

Brotherhood Returns

I have such a profound connection to this show. These could be the people I grew up with in New England. It is heart wrenching, flawed characters who are so real it is often breath taking. Watch. You will not be disappointed. Not to mention maybe the strongest female character on television.

How Many American Lives is Saddam Hussein Worth?

Check out this new unearthed 1992 video of Cheney talking about why Bush I did not go into Iraq and occupy the country. At the end of the video (if you want ff go ahead because listening to him is quite difficult) around 30 seconds left he says the final point is there 146 American lives lost in the first gulf war and how many more American lives is Saddam Husseing worth - "not very damn many" he says.

We are at 3800+ and counting if Mr. Cheney forgot.

Friday, September 28, 2007

fenway gets green

have you voted in our poll for the world series winner? so far the red sox are in the lead. rightfully so... with manny, ortiz and the boys of boston. (i guess my loyalties are shifting cause the mets suck right now!)

but now there is a perfect reason to vote for the sox and feel good -- on september 20th, the red sox and the natural resources defense council partnered to develop a plan to make fenway and the green monster more green.

grist described some of the changes:

Under a five-year partnership with the National Resources Defense Council, the nation's oldest active ballpark may vend beer in corn-starch-based cups, serve local, organic food from concession stands, add solar panels, and even initiate a new tradition: a fifth-inning recycling stretch. and more from the boston herald here.

was it a coincidence in planning that just three days later on september 23rd, baseball celebrated its 162nd birthday? so where is baseball's birthplace???
the elysian field in hoboken! i thought the plaque on 11th and washington streets marked the birthplace but i stand corrected. according to mayor david roberts, the public lawn near 12th street by maxwell place (the very site for which roberts compared his fight to de-privatize the space to that of rosa parks) is "the exact site where America's game was first played."

Russ Feingold (Once Again) Stands Alone in the Senate

All along Senator Feingold from Wisconsin was my first choice to be the anti-war candidate for the Democrats in 2008. After the stellar 2006 election cycle Russ decided not to run much to the dismay of the left. Yesterday, however he renewed his stance as the only one in the Senate who is truly anti-war.

In a vote of 94-1 the Senate agreed to increase the federal debt limit by $850 billion -- from $8.965 trillion to $9.815 trillion -- and then proceeded to approve a stop-gap spending bill that gives the Bush White House at least $9 billion in new funding for its war in Iraq. Additionally, the administration has been given emergency authority to tap further into a $70 billion "bridge fund" to provide new infusions of money for the occupation while the Congress works on appropriations bills for the Department of Defense and other agencies.

Translation: Under the guise of a stop-gap spending bill that is simply supposed to keep the government running until a long-delayed appropriations process is completed -- probably in November -- the Congress has just approved a massive increase in war funding.

The five senators who did not vote were Democrats Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama and Joe Biden and Republicans John McCain and Sam Brownback.

In the House the measure passed 404-14 with many in the anti-war caucus casting nay votes including Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul.

Feingold said of the measure:"I am disappointed that we are about to begin the 2008 fiscal year without having enacted any of the appropriations bills for that year. I am even more disappointed that we voted on a continuing resolution that provides tens of billions of dollars to continue the misguided war in Iraq but does not include any language to bring that war to a close. We need to keep the federal government operating and make sure our brave troops get all the equipment and supplies they need, but we should not be giving the President a blank check to continue a war that is hurting our national security."

Said Kucinich:"Each year this war is getting more and more costly --- both in the amount of money spent and in the number of lives lost. Now this Congress is providing more funds so the administration can continue down a path of destruction and chaos...the Democratic leadership in Congress needs to take a stand against this President and say they will not give him any more money. That is the only way to end this war and bring our troops home."

When you went to the polls in November, 2006 did you think this is what you were getting? Discouraged does not even begin to tell what I am feeling here on September 28, 2007.

bayonne free speech buttons

i teach street law every summer at the paterson ymca to a group of teens enrolled in a leadership and job training program. and every summer i teach, i hear the same stories of racial profiling, endless terry stops, illegal searches (T.L.O. standard) and a lack of due process for disciplinary hearings and suspensions at school.

we discuss a variety of issues, mainly how to know their rights. we spend time debating search and seizure concepts, the limits of free speech and the meaning of due process. i love teaching street law -- it's always a challenge for me to prepare interesting lessons, create a dynamic class setting and engage students who don't have the luxury i possess as a white, middle-class person.

last week, i read about a recent case decision involving students in bayonne, nj that will certainly add a new twist to our studies on protesting, the first amendment and the tinker standard.

the student press law center offered the following summary:

Two students — a fifth-grader and a seventh-grader — can wear buttons with the phrase “No School Uniforms” over a background picture of the Hitler Youth, a federal judge ruled Wednesday. The court held that because the buttons were not disruptive, the Bayonne School District's censorship was “unwarranted.” Karin R. White Morgen, the students’ attorney, said it was a “wonderful” decision for student free speech. “The school will think twice before it suspends students for wearing honest buttons,” she said. “You are allowed to have an opinion, even in grammar school.” read the opinion here.

The case dates back to November 2006, when two students at two different schools in the district — fifth-grader Michael DePinto and seventh-grader Anthony LaRocco — wore buttons with a red circle and slash through the words “No School Uniforms.” The words were superimposed over an image of rows of young boys in uniforms. While the image contained no visible swastikas or specific Nazi references, both sides agreed that the picture featured members of the Hitler Youth. In response, administrators sent letters to the students’ parents warning that their sons would be punished if they continued to wear the button. Both sets of parents joined in the lawsuit, claiming their children’s First Amendment rights were violated.

New Health Center Opens in New Brunswick

Middlesex County opened a public health clinic in New Brunswick yesterday. It consolidates many services under one roof and people without health insurance (estimates over 1.2 Million in New Jersey) may seek health care. The Center offers space to treat tuberculosis and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as provide childhood immuniza tions, flu shots and education on cancer.

At least 100 people a week are expected to use the new center. There is a bright and spacious waiting room and each of the different clinics operates in well- equipped rooms said the star Ledger. The Director of Nursing, Debbie Gash said the location is one of the center's biggest advantages. The free Hub City Trolley services the center and the Middlesex County Area Transit Jersey Avenue Shuttle also stops at the clinic. The shuttle charges $1 for the general public and 50 cents for seniors and people with disabilities.

More healthcare for the poor can only be a good thing. Good job Middlesex County.

laugh for the day, law firms take over youtube

Law firms like Quinn Emanuel, below, and Choate Hall, left, have tried using actors in YouTube-like videos to persuade law school students and graduates to apply for jobs as associate lawyers.

from today's nyt... see excerpt from the article below... i laughed enough to fall outta my chair. who dares to watch these ridiculous videos?

Law firms have discovered YouTube.

Well, actually, they have discovered that the law students they are trying to recruit as summer associates watch YouTube, the popular video Web site.

Several firms are trying to parlay that discovery into a hiring tool, creating recruiting videos and Web sites with the look and feel of YouTube. The firms hope to persuade students that their lawyers, and by extension the firms, are young-thinking and hip.
“The videos are still kind of in the early days,” said Brian Dalton, the senior law editor at Vault Reports, which ranks law firms. “A lot of them come off seeming like hostage videos.”

There are exceptions. Choate Hall & Stewart, a Boston firm with about 200 lawyers and more than 100 years of history, has developed a series inspired by the “Mac vs. PC” advertisements from Apple. Rather than associates, actors are used in the Choate ads.

The Jena 6 Prosecutor Hides Behind Jesus

We need only to view this press conference to understand the chasm that exists between "middle" America and the coasts. I cannot believe a DA in these states would invoke Jesus Christ and his direct intervention - averted the disaster on Thursday (when the protests occurred). And then a black minister (you can hear in the background) challenges him on that statement. This is America?

Representative Frank Pallone of New Jersey Calls the Rethuglicans on their Hypocrisy

I found this on Think Progress. Rush Limbaugh called soldiers who favor withdrawal "phony soldiers."

Rush Limbaugh could earn the SG
Assclown of the week every week. We will let Mr. Pallone do our talking for us today.

Representative Patrick Murphy D (PA) also had this to say:
Someone should tell chicken-hawk Rush Limbaugh that the only phonies are those who choose not to serve and then criticize those who do. I served proudly, so did two of my fellow paratroopers in the 82nd Airborne who spoke out and died just weeks ago. Generations of American veterans have worn the uniform with pride and we know it is no contradiction to serve your country and still disagree with the Bush-civilian leadership that mismanaged this war.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Verizon is Apparently Anti-Choice

Apparently Verizon Wireless won't let its customers voluntarily sign up for texts from NARAL Pro-Choice America. Why you ask? Because the organization is "controversial" and "unsavory."

Take a moment of your time to find out about this censorship and take action.

I vote we follow the suggestion of the women of and:

So I have a request to all of you with Verizon cell phones: text all of your friends with Verizon cell phones, "Abortion should be legal and uncensored." Then have them forward it on and cancel their account.
Verizon confirmed in a letter to Keenan that it had accepted NARAL Pro-Choice America’s application for a text-messaging short code. NARAL Pro-Choice America is also requesting that Verizon make its new policy public so that its customers can be assured that the corporation will not engage in similar censorship activities in the future.

Assclowns of the week: Joe Lieberman and Hillary Clinton

Seventy-six Senators voted yesterday for the Kyl-Lieberman Amendment which gives Bush the ability to go into Iran. Hillary Clinton voted for it, Barack Obama sat the vote out for some reason. Dodd and Biden voted against it. Here in pertinent part is what the Senate voted for:

it should be the policy of the United States to combat, contain, and roll back the violent activities and destabilizing influence inside Iraq of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, its foreign facilitators such as Lebanese Hezbollah, and its indigenous Iraqi proxies;

(4) to support the prudent and calibrated use of all instruments of United States national power in Iraq, including diplomatic, economic, intelligence, and military instruments, in support of the policy described in paragraph (3) with respect to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran and its proxies

The full roll call is here. This amendment was pushed by the administration through Senator Kyl and Senator Lieberman. Senator Webb called the amendment "Cheney's fondest pipe dream."

Senator Webb continued:

Those who regret their vote five years ago to authorize military action in Iraq should think hard before supporting this approach. Because, in my view, it has the same potential to do harm where many are seeking to do good.

Here is a statement that sounds eerily close to the run up to the Iraq war by defense Secretary Gates.

“Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated on September 16, 2007 that “I think that the administration believes at this point that continuing to try and deal with the Iranian threat, the Iranian challenge, through diplomatic and economic means is by the preferable approach. That the one we are using. We always say all options are on the table, but clearly, the diplomatic and economic approach is the one that we are pursuing.”

Why is Hillary Clinton the darling of the Democrats? Why? Because we long for the Clinton years? Read Barrister boy's poem about clinging to the past. If we long for the Clinton years we only are clinging to a past that no longer exists, a past that was not all that good anyway. It is a large mistake we are making by supporting Clinton's candidacy when there are two maybe three candidates that would be much better without the negatives (putting aside Gravel and Kucinich for the moment), Dodd, Edwards and possibly Obama (with huge reservations). Do we want a change in leadership or a change in politics? Because Hillary Clinton will only give us more of the same. There is no difference between this vote and the 2002 vote to authorize military action against Iraq. It does virtually the same thing.

John Edwards on Darfur

This is part of a 24 hours for Darfur campaign. You can go and donate and see other videos about the crisis.

This is a crisis of epic proportions. We invaded Iraq based on lies and won't leave, yet there are innocent lives perishing everyday that could benefit from any kind of intervention. But, we sit idly by because we lack the resources and quite frankly the initiative. something.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

What Are you Doing with your Past? (Empires Collapsed)

We all carry bags
On our backs
As individuals so much as societies
Collecting all past events
Good as bad
And taking them everywhere
Using them in the present
As a mean of identification
Saying: this is what we did
This is who we are.
In that sense we are all the same
Moving forward
While hanging on the past
But what are you doing with your past?
One way of dealing with it
Is clinging to it and living it
All through the present and into the future
Bad or painfull past turn
That way
To a sad and miserable future
While we are busy
Feeling sorry for ourselves
And keep our mind
Reliving the pain instead of overcoming it.
Glorious past is as bad to cling to as a bad one
Empire living in their past glory
Reliving history and on the process
Ignoring the ever changing world around us
Only to find one day that the glory
Have pass just like everything else
And the only glorious things
Are to be found in the history book.
Another approach is to use the past
As a step for the future
Using the past events
Good as bad as a mean of making
Sure that the future would be better
Less bad incase of tragic events
Or even more glorious
Incase of a past glory.
Nothing stands still in this world
And everything moves constantly
Evolving or just changing
Which make standing still
Living the past
A sure way for collapse.
So instead of digging into the misery of the past
Look into it in the present
And find ways to make the future better.
What are you doing with the past?

howard hates plastic bags

i know this is a bit dated but i just saw this on the reusablebags website... howard stern, who knew?

Sirius Radio 03.28.07
Hear Howard Stern blast the absurdity of plastic bags upon San Francisco's announcement to be the first US city to ban plastic grocery bags: "In this country, there are so many (plastic) bags. We bag everything - we bag our bags, we have bags for our bags. It is outrageous. All this plastic has nowhere to go, it's a tremendous waste amount of garbage, and it's a completely wasteful thing all these plastic bags." Listen here...
p.s. scroll down to the end of the posts for the reusablebags ad & buy your canvas bag now...

This Modern World

The Daily Show: Hillary Laughing Machine

When Will New Jersey Politicians Display this Kind of Courage

This is a rare speech (by a Republican) and it is worth every second.

Here’s why you must watch: The speech contains that rarest of displays for an American politician, the thing we’ve all been convinced through years and decades simply no longer exists anywhere in the political biosphere, but especially among the famously heartless members of the famously homophobic GOP — that is, astonishing honesty, humility, openness, heartfelt emotion in matters of love and human connection, sans rhetoric or spin or typical political bulls–t. The speech is, simply put, a deeply touching thing to watch.

Marriage Scorecard: Love-1, Politics-0

don't you love it when politicians stop being politicians and let their emotions slip through? republican mayor of San Diego, Jerry Sanders, recently gave a press conference explaining why he was supporting the recently passed city council resolution allowing San Diego to join several other California cities in filing briefs in support of same-sex marriage, an issue currently before California's Supreme Court.

when he ran for office, he would only go as far as expressing support for civil unions. here, with great conviction and real emotion, he explains why he now supports full marriage rights. watch the video...

Lisa Sanders, Jerry Sanders lesbian daughter, said of her dad: "I'm just very proud of my father. And to be a part of this. It's about equality, and he's doing the right thing, and I'm very confident in him."

Jerry Sanders won't always be mayor of San Diego, but he will always be the man who did right by his loved ones, which is so much more important.

Justice in Jena-- NYT op-ed piece

in today's new york times; just wondering what folks think of the DA's logic and legal reasoning.

Op-Ed Contributor

Published: September 26, 2007
Jena, La.
(illustration by Justin Gabbard)

THE case of the so-called Jena Six has fired the imaginations of thousands, notably young African-Americans who, according to many of their comments, believe they will be in the vanguard of a new civil rights movement. Whether America needs a new civil rights movement I leave to social activists, politicians and the people who must give life to such a cause.

I am a small-town lawyer and prosecutor. For 16 years, it has been my job as the district attorney to review each criminal case brought to me by the police department or the sheriff, match the facts to any applicable laws and seek justice for those who have been harmed. The work is often rewarding, but not always.

I do not question the sincerity or motivation of the 10,000 or more protesters who descended on Jena last week, after riding hundreds of miles on buses. But long before reaching our town of 3,000 people, they had decided that a miscarriage of justice was taking place here. Their anger at me was summed up by a woman who said, “If you can figure out how to make a schoolyard fight into an attempted murder charge, I’m sure you can figure out how to make stringing nooses into a hate crime.”

That could be a compelling statement to someone trying to motivate listeners on a radio show, but as I am a lawyer obligated to enforce the laws of my state, it does not work for me.

I cannot overemphasize how abhorrent and stupid I find the placing of the nooses on the schoolyard tree in late August 2006. If those who committed that act considered it a prank, their sense of humor is seriously distorted. It was mean-spirited and deserves the condemnation of all decent people.

But it broke no law. I searched the Louisiana criminal code for a crime that I could prosecute. There is none.

Similarly, the United States attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, who is African-American, found no federal law against what was done.

A district attorney cannot take people to trial for acts not covered in the statutes. Imagine the trampling of individual rights that would occur if prosecutors were allowed to pursue every person whose behavior they disapproved of.

The “hate crime” the protesters wish me to prosecute does not exist as a stand-alone offense in Louisiana law. It’s not that our Legislature has turned a blind eye to crimes motivated by race or other personal characteristics, but it has addressed the problem in a way that does not cover what happened in Jena. The hate crime statute is used to enhance the sentences of defendants found guilty of specific crimes, like murder or rape, who chose their victims based on race, religion, sexual orientation or other factors.

Last week, a reporter asked me whether, if I had it to do over, I would do anything differently. I didn’t think of it at the time, but the answer is yes. I would have done a better job of explaining that the offenses of Dec. 4, 2006, did not stem from a “schoolyard fight” as it has been commonly described in the news media and by critics.

Conjure the image of schoolboys fighting: they exchange words, clench fists, throw punches, wrestle in the dirt until classmates or teachers pull them apart. Of course that would not be aggravated second-degree battery, which is what the attackers are now charged with. (Five of the defendants were originally charged with attempted second-degree murder.) But that’s not what happened at Jena High School.

The victim in this crime, who has been all but forgotten amid the focus on the defendants, was a young man named Justin Barker, who was not involved in the nooses incident three months earlier. According to all the credible evidence I am aware of, after lunch, he walked to his next class. As he passed through the gymnasium door to the outside, he was blindsided and knocked unconscious by a vicious blow to the head thrown by Mychal Bell. While lying on the ground unaware of what was happening to him, he was brutally kicked by at least six people.

Imagine you were walking down a city street, and someone leapt from behind a tree and hit you so hard that you fell to the sidewalk unconscious. Would you later describe that as a fight?

Only the intervention of an uninvolved student protected Mr. Barker from severe injury or death. There was serious bodily harm inflicted with a dangerous weapon — the definition of aggravated second-degree battery. Mr. Bell’s conviction on that charge as an adult has been overturned, but I considered adult status appropriate because of his role as the instigator of the attack, the seriousness of the charge and his prior criminal record.

I can understand the emotions generated by the juxtaposition of the noose incident with the attack on Mr. Barker and the outcomes for the perpetrators of each. In the final analysis, though, I am bound to enforce the laws of Louisiana as they exist today, not as they might in someone’s vision of a perfect world.

That is what I have done. And that is what I must continue to do.

Reed Walters is the district attorney of LaSalle Parish.

The Realities of War

The American Friends Service Committee has a project called "Eyes Wide Open." Boots are lined up representing US soldiers killed in the Iraq war, shoes representing Iraqi civilians. The Exhibition website:

Due to the growing number of US casualties, the Eyes Wide Open National Exhibit has become too large for the AFSC to tour. Instead, the AFSC will be splitting the exhibit into 50 state exhibits to continue the work of bringing Eyes Wide Open into smaller communities across the country. Working with AFSC offices, Quaker meetings and peace groups across the country, the Eyes Wide Open state exhibits feature the boots of the soldiers from their home states in addition to a memorial to the Iraqi civilian casualties.

Quote of the Day: Giving and Taking

This is from a piece at Slept on Magazine (a brilliant new website) called Giving and Taking. Read it - it is short, but provocative. It is a call to democrats who support the centrists and really any of the candidates who have sold out the people.

The misery sweeping across the American landscape may have begun with Ronald Reagan, but it was accelerated and codified by Bill Clinton. He sold out the poor and the working class. And Clinton did it deliberately to feed the pathological hunger he and his wife have for political power. It was the Clintons who led the Democratic Party to the corporate watering trough. The Clintons argued that the party had to ditch labor unions, no longer a source of votes or power, as a political ally. Workers would vote Democratic anyway. They had no choice. It was better, the Clintons argued, to take corporate money and use government to service the needs of the corporations. By the 1990s, the Democratic Party, under Clinton’s leadership, had virtual fund-raising parity with the Republicans. In political terms, it was a success. In moral terms, it was a betrayal. - Chris Hedges-

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

living in poverty--sidewalk street art

today i stumbled across this message in front of the haven savings bank on washington street. i took some pixs and stood nearby and watched reactions from people passing by. most just walked on by or walked over the chalked message, oblivious, while chatting on their cells or listening to their ipods. one woman stopped, read it and looked at me, curious. but we only exchanged a few words. the old street sweeper man noticed it, took his time and read the words. on my watch, most folks just walked on by...
36 million people in the USA are in poverty <------ that's about the population of california!
update: just saw another sighting, same message in front of mcdonald's at washington and 3rd street. here's to you, street messenger, for trying to get people to think.

the laughing dolphin & barista boy's poem of the week

can you see the laughing dolphin in barista boy's cafe art?


I wonder if

Knew at 1971, when he published
His poetry book:

“The Book of Nightmares”,

That writing the phrase:

“…God is my enemy”

Would cause it to be

Banned from the bookshelf

In a coffee place

Hoboken 2006

And turn the book itself

Into a theological refuge.

I wonder if

It was a legitimate


Or maybe it is turning

Into one?

Join the Courage Campaign

This is real. The GOP in California is trying to get an initiative on the ballot that would proportion California's electoral votes. Even if the Dems win by 60 percent of the vote, the Republicans would still get approximately 20 electoral votes and swing the election their way, no matter if the dems win the popular vote.

Join the Courage Campaign. click here for no dirty tricks.

Don't Call me White!

NOFX, a less-than-famous, punk band that was kinda big in the '90s, had a song called "Don't Call me White." I have a blog called Brand New Day, and I have a friend who I will call J. He is American, but his father is Mexican. And he is angry at me for some comment I made about his ideas toward war, race, and the possibility of change in a world run by a country like the USA. He questioned what use it was to write about change, and discuss change, in such a corrupt and racist country. He questioned me, asking what I could do, being that I am a 'pampered white liberal.'

I am saddened by his diatribe. Yes, I am white, and no I have not ever seen a food stamp up close and personal. I live in Brazil, with the help, sometimes of my wife-s parents' money, and once and while, my parents. They do not have maids, butlers, or even more than one car. But they are white, and middle-class. They have not been run in by the cops for being a person of color, or looking 'suspicious.' I cannot do anything about that. What I hoped I could do was try to move beyond my particular skin pigment, Rutherford, NJ, upbringing and university education (of which J shared, attending the same college.) I hoped that I could do something to make things a little better.

But, alas, i am white. I will never understand, and therefore, I know now, I should give up. My friend, who just wrote me to tell me to "f... my blog," is probably right. what is the purpose of trying to understand the oppressed if I am not one of them.

I will now begin a career at Philip Morris, or maybe JP Morgan. I could be a NJ state trooper. But seriously, why I am posting for a blog that is most likely read by the same people my enlightened multi ethnic friend in Florida despises for their inability to get it? Why care at all. I will never understand. I am hiding in Brazil from the reality that I have no purpose as a white liberal, beside voting in Democrats that do nothing but pretend to give a damn. Maybe I should just stay hiding, and stop pretending that I have a clue about anything wrong with the US.
What do you think, SG?

Monday, September 24, 2007

$720 Million Dollars a Day in Iraq: How Would You Spend it?

We are spending $720 million dollars a day in Iraq ($500,000 per minute). The Wage Peace Campaign asks how would you spend this money?

One day of the Iraq War Could Buy:

Eighty-four new elementary schools;

12,478 new elementary school teachers;

95,364 head start placements for children;

1,153,846 children with a free lunch;

34,904 four year scholarships for university students;

163,525 people with healthcare;

423,529 children with healthcare.

6,482 families with homes; or

1,274,336 homes with renewable electricity.

How would you spend it?

As we approach four thousand dead soldeirs (3,798 dead up to yesterday's count) in Iraq and an uncountable amount of dead Iraqis, we see no end in sight to this war. We see no urgency on the part of the democrats to truly end this war. "Oh, what can we do? We need 61 votes. We promise elect us in '08 and we will finally end it." We see a Republican party despite losing its power become stronger in their resolve to keep up the fight. We see violence and endless corruption in Iraq, not the least of which is the Blackwater scandal that threatens to finally dissolve the crisis to its breaking point.
But, this war is real, it is taking a toll that is putting our democracy in danger as well as our way of life. But, the toll it is taking on the soldiers and their families is immeasurable. It is kept hidden from us so we will not storm the castle. But, it is time we did. Watch below: Body of War

Hillary Makes Me Nervous

I am trying to get used to the idea that she will be the nominee. Can I get excited about it? She is saying now that she will not vote for any more money to support the war in Iraq without a time table to bring the troops home. That is a good thing.

In this video, however Clinton was on This Week (as well as every show on Sunday) and said she could not pledge to bring troops home in her first term. Ok, that will be nine years in Iraq. And she cannot pledge to bring our troops home? That makes me nervous as hell.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Stickin' It to the Man - Literally

Roxanne Shante who was one of the first women in hip-hop, fooled her label and everyone else into paying for her education! Her label, thinking that she would never really finish school, gave her a clause in her contract that she got at age 15 that said they would pay for her education. Many, many years later, she is now a Ph. D. and they paid for ALL of it.

At the age of 23, after two albums, pay cuts, several discrepancies with her royalties and a pregnancy, Roxanne Shanté decided to change careers. At the age of 25, she retired from the recording industry (and took them up on their offer). However, she continues to make occasional guest appearances and live performances, as well as mentor young female hip-hop artists. She also took part in a series of Sprite commercials in the late 1990s. She is married and has one son and one daughter, and, now with a PhD in psychology, has a practice in Queens. She is a vegan and owns Hip-Hop Ices ice cream parlor in Queens.

Olbermann Special Comment

Keith goes after Bush once again (on Thursday). It starts declaring a special comment on Bush' and the Republican criticism of the ad. But, turns and attacks Bush for "pimping" General Petraeus and stop moving our country towards a dictatorship. Watch it:

Friday, September 21, 2007

is it art or just compulsive recycling?

walking around hoboken yesterday on bloomfield street, i stumbled across this bizarre art/recycling installation. thursday is paper recycling in our city. so, was the creator of this art form merely putting out his/her recycling?

inside every Parliament cigarette box was a neatly folded up bunch of paper. totally obsessive compulsive. apparently this is a usual set up. a month ago, i noticed this exact arrangement but it was late at night and i didn't have my camera. disappointed that i couldn't document such creativity, i figured it was a fleeting, one-time street art project. i'm glad to say it is not. this person sure is puffing away a lot but at least he/she is recycling...

the paterson ymca supports the jena 6 on 9/20/07

here's an article from today's herald news about my co-workers' support for the jena 6. i'm so proud that we are all standing up against this injustice. keep fighting and make your voices heard...

Friday, September 21, 2007

Across North Jersey, people dressed in all black Thursday to show support for six black Louisiana teenagers facing attempted murder charges after a schoolyard fight with strong racial overtones.

Joann Hill, of Paterson, picked black workwear to express her outrage. For Hill and many others, the incident stirred personal and painful experiences of racism, and a deep sense of grief that blacks still have to deal with the possibility of injustice.

"It is scary," said Hill, 47, dressed in a flowing black blouse at her job at the Paterson YMCA. "I have a 17-year-old son. How's he going to feel when he hears about this?"

In Jena, La., a pair of altercations between black and white high school students last year led to dramatically different punishments for each. Last September, a black student sat underneath a tree that white teenagers congregate by, prompting three white students to suspend nooses in the tree.


Video: Thousands Rally to Support 6 Jena Teens
Video: Jackson: 'There's a Jena in Every State'

Then, in December, six black students badly beat a white student on school grounds. The victim was well enough to attend a school function later in the evening.

The three white students received a temporary suspension. But the black teenagers were charged with attempted murder. News about the incident gained widespread media attention in recent weeks as some of the cases came to trial.

On Thursday, thousands of people from across the country converged on the small town to demand justice for the "Jena Six." The chanting crowd, drawn by heavy promotion from black radio stations and including the Rev. Al Sharpton, flooded the streets of the predominantly white town of 3,000.

In the last few weeks, North Jersey residents have responded publicly and privately with shock and sadness. For some, the case smacks of a pre-Civil Rights era injustice. Yvonne Smith's son attended Thursday's rally, driving 1,200 miles from his college, Howard University in Washington, D.C.

"He couldn't believe we were still in that stage of our history," said Smith, 53, a Paterson transplant from Jamaica.

Chante Bobbitt, 27, sent off an angry letter to the governor of Louisiana. The incident strikes her as modern-day slavery.

"Those boys' lives have already been destroyed," said Bobbitt, an East Orange resident who works in Paterson.

Even as throngs descended on Louisiana, several other protests occurred across the country, including in North Jersey. On Thursday afternoon, more than 100 protesters rallied in front of Newark City Hall. Those attending ranged from Mayor Cory Booker to local schoolchildren.
Shelia Green-Barnhill, a Newark resident who attended the rally, felt that all people should be treated humanely.

"If you see someone injured in the street, you help them," Green-Barnhill said in a phone interview. "That person should be someone you talk to and eat next to, because they are a person, not just a color."

In solidarity, North Jersey residents agreed to wear all black to work on Thursday.

Dark attire appeared across the hallways of the Passaic County Board of Social Services, within the Paterson YMCA and in classrooms at the Passaic County Technical Institute. Black shirts popped up on employees in Paramus, throughout the East Orange school system, and at the Millburn Municipal Golf Course.

"This issue is everybody's child," said Thelma Stevens, 56.

For some, the issue presented an opportunity to talk to their children about ongoing racism -- even in subtle ways like preferences for white dolls. Others prayed in their churches. And for older folks, it brought back the past.

Joann Hill recalled her mother's experiences as one of only four black students in Passaic High School's graduating class of 1944. From her, Hill heard stories of finding burning cardboard on her yard, or having students rip up her books.

Since the Jena incident, Hill's 81-year-old mother has fallen quiet. "This has been hard on her," said Hill, of Paterson.

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Market Forces: Colbert Explains Blackwater

Rep. Boehner Says We are Only Paying a Small Price in Iraq

Even Fox News thought it ridiculous. He is a chump.

In other news the Levin-Reed Amendment failed. The Senate voted 47-47 on an amendment sponsored by Sens. Carl Levin (D-MI) and Jack Reed (D-RI) that “would require a withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq to begin in 90 days and end in nine months.”

Dan Rather Suit Against CBS

Last night Dan Rather was on Larry King (excuse me for watching) and is accusing CBS of scapegoating him in the Bush "forged documents" story. But, he said if this lawsuit can do anything it will be to restore the news business to what it should be - insuring democracy - instead of corporations making decisions for the news. He spoke about how they sat on the Abu Ghraib story because of the corporate lawyers "upstairs" wanted to be cautious. And the Bush story he wanted to continue investigating but an "outside panel" co-chaired by Dick Thornburgh, former Republican Attorney General for Reagan said the story was badly flawed and shut the investigation down.

Rather still believes the story to be true and the documents to be authentic. He also says a former FBI agent who began investigating the story for CBS found "helpful and supportive" information for Rather, but shut the story down anyway.

Our democracy is in trouble when corporations are making decisions based on their bottom line or their connections to stories rather on what is best for our democracy. I applaud Rather for this attempt. Check out the clip above from the Insider when CBS shuts down a huge story on Big Tobacco because of the mother corporation. This is a true story and Lowell Bergman quit CBS over it. If you have not seen this movie it is a dandy. The clip gets good around the first minute.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

What is a Mercenary?

Jeremy Scahill debates a warmonger on Democracy Now! See Jeremy Scahill's book on the subject

It is baffling this person can come on television and say Blackwater soldiers are not mercenaries. It defies logic, but so much about what has happened these past seven years defies logic.

The Democrats Have Lost Their Nerve

An interesting note on the failed Webb Amendment yesterday is that Democrats are having their cake and eating it too and it smells rotten! A piece at Daily Kos calls Dems on their own hypocrisy. Why are there not TV stations and newspapers talking about the fillibuster the Republicans engaged in yesterday? Because it didn't happen.

Instead, the reason the Webb amendment failed even though it got 56 votes was that Senators agreed by unanimous consent that the amendment should have to get 60 votes to pass, even without a filibuster. The Republicans are already on a record pace to break any filibuster record ever recorded.

And the question here is not just why anyone would allow it, but why everyone did. A single Senator could have put a stop to this simply by saying, "I object" when the unanimous consent request was made. Just one Senator.

Yet, as the author at Daily Kos says no one objected. Not Russ Feingold, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders. Not a one. Everyone just politely agreed that 56-44 would be a losing vote for America's sons and daughters wearing the uniform in Iraq and Afghanistan. And they did it on national television. And America yawned, hit the snooze button, and slept in.

The author goes on in the article to explain what the Webb Amendment would do: Such a requirement, by the way (allowing troops just as much rest away from combat as in), is already a tremendous compromise. The Pentagon brass usually requires twice as much rest as deployment. But Webb's compromise required only half that much rest. Still, Republicans said no. Our troops -- including our "one weekend a month" National Guardsmen -- must be required to spend more time in combat than out. So that the rest of us can all shop, watch TV, cut taxes, or take a "wide stance" if we feel like it.

What we are not being told is the Democrats in essence said no as well. Why consent to a vote of 60 votes as a majority. A majority is 51 votes remember? The Democrats do not remember because they have no idea how to handle their power. They have forgotten, "they have lost their nerve" as Ralph Nader so eloquently stated.

The author concludes: Until recently, cloture votes were the easy way out of a filibuster. Forty-one Senators had only to make their protest last long enough to make it to the cloture vote, beat it, and then bask in their victory as the majority pulled the "defeated" legislation from the floor and slunk away. But believe it or not, Senate Democrats have found an easier way to do this, and begin slinking even earlier.


Democrats are just as corporate now as their Rethuglican counterparts and have forgotten how to represent the people. I will not give one cent to a Democrat until they prove they are worthy of it. Right now, none are worthy. Not even Bernie Sanders.

Read the article and go to the comments section here.

September 20th

Happy Birthday la Francaise

Fox Hypocrisy

Fox censored Sally Field supposedly for saying Goddamn. Check out their hypocrisy.

We all know why they censored an Emmy awarding actress - because she does not support senseless war and she had the courage to say so. So, Fox censored her. It has nothing to do with saying Goddamn as this short video shows.

Hanging around our necks

Sept. 20, Jena, LA: The NAACP has organized a march in Jena, LA, to raise awareness and support for the Jena 6. Anybody who reads this blog now knows, and probably for a long while has known, about the trial of six young people for the aggravated assault of a white teen. Mychal Bell, who was charged as an adult, just had his charges changed to those for a minor, but all six remain in custody. This post is not to rehash all the detail, but to bring up another point: how long does it take for the big names in the media to decide that Jena is a story, and why did it take them so long...until Al Sharpton decided to head on down.
I just went onto yahoo answers, and saw the question: "why are the Jena 6 not being tried for hate crimes?" I had to answer, and if you want to see my complete response, check it out on the site. Pretty much, I wrote that Larry, the questioner, should really investigate the story, and understand that when a situation starts because off nooses hung on a tree that only white students can sit under, there is a hate crime, all right. It is the allusion to a practice continued until all-too-recently in places like Louisiana, Texas, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida and the rest of the "New South."
Some of the answerers seemed annoyed that the news was bringing up that dirty word again: racism. As if not saying it makes it go away, and that a campaign to get unlawfully and unjustly imprisoned people out of jail is just an unnecessary headache. I wrote a postcard to Mychal Bell a couple weeks ago, from my city in Brazil, encouraging him to keep up hope, and realize that there are thousands upon thousands in the US who still believe in justice and change.
New Orleans was a hate crime. Public education in cities like New York is a hate crime. The US prison system is a hate crime. Drug laws are hate crimes. When someone calls you nigger and you are black, and you hit back, that is not a hate crime.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

A Voice in the New Jersey State Prison: A Common Sense Argument


This article came to me through an on-line source. It is from an inmate in a New Jersey State Prison.

There is a debate raging in America about prisons and prisoners. The government has declared a "war"on drugs. They have mandated "truth in sentencing" and promulgated various other means to eliminate parole. The No Early Release Act, the Federal Sentencing Guidelines and other laws are designed to mandate 85% of more of a sentence to be served before release. With both major political parties afraid to appear soft on crime, with the national debt and state economies faltering, a very real question is: "What will be sacrificed to pay for prisoners?"

The four most commonly accepted reasons for prisons are: deterrence, incapacitation, retribution and correction. But as they exist today, prisons only address one of these: incapacitation. Without effective programs to help the prisoner, to address the reasons for their incarceration, and attempt to correct them, what happens when the person is released? More than two-thirds of prisoners re-offend within three years.

This country was built on common sense, hard work and innovation. Helping others when needed, as well as giving others a second chance; recognizing when problems exist and working to correct them have always been quintessential American values. As our country has progressed and evolved economically, the niches filled by the migrant worker, the harvest hand and the small operator have been eliminated by big business. Tolerance has been replaced by harsh conformity. Many crimes that were tolerated years ago as "harmless pranks" or "wild oats" by society are now being prosecuted and violators sent to prison. Prisons have been transformed into the newest big business, instead of Society's last resort.

Prisons have never, to a measurable degree, deterred people from crime.With few exceptions, from the conception of the modern prison, cerca1790, prison populations have steadily grown. Since the first American prison, it has been a professed goal to reform prisoners through labor. This sentiment was legally codified as early as 1808. Both the Auburn and Philadelphia prison models were based upon prison labor. Prisons were, and are, so expensive to operate that any financial offset prisoners could provide is necessary. Until 1929, the industrial workfarm more than paid for itself when Congress passed two laws: the Hawes-Cooper Act in 1929, and the Ashurst-Sumners Act in 1935, which, along with the Great Depression, killed the industrial prison.

With the demise of the work farm, education now came to the forefront of prison reform. Initial programs taught various blue collar skills such as carpentry, masonry, auto mechanics, landscaping and other skills needed to get a job upon release. As time progressed, more sophisticated classes were introduced, such as drafting, offset printing, high school classes, and college courses. In the 1970s and 80s, sociologists were able to conclusively demonstrate that education had a definite impact on lowering the prison population. However, many of the college programs depended upon grants.

The most popular was the federal Pell Grant, which was discontinued in the early 1990s becausethe need for college assistance grew in society and prisoners were seen to be expendable. While educating prisoners is expensive, educationhelps pay for itself by reducing recidivism and thus prison costs.While many may legitimately argue that society shouldn't pay forprisoners to be educated, here are a few statistics no one can deny:

National Institute on Literary: 70% of all prisoners function at the twolowest literacy levels.

Bureau of Justice: 47% of State Prisoners have never completed highschool or its equivalent. Less educated prisoners are more likely to be recidivists.

National Institute of Justice: 60% of former prisoners are not employed one year after release.

U.S. Dept. of Education: Participation in State correctional educationprograms lowers the likelihood of incarceration by 29%.

N.J. Institute for Social Justice: 95% to 97% of those currently incarcerated in N.J. will eventually be released.

In 2002, more than 2 million people were incarcerated in Federal orState prisons, or local jails. Nearly 650,000 people are released from incarceration to communities nationwide each year. In his 2004 State of the Union address, President Bush said: "We know from long experience that if former prisoners can't find work, or a home, or help, they are much more likely to commit more crimes and return to prison...America is the land of the second chance, and when the gates of the prison open the path ahead should lead to a better life."There are many committees and think tanks that examine the problems of incarceration and recidivism. Recently several such groups collectivelywrote and published "New Jersey Community & Corrections Working Summit:Impacting Communities of Color."

This collaboration addressed manydifferent issues and made the following recommendations: "The participants...believe that rehabilitation services provided to prisoners during their incarceration are not just cost effective; they also make good public policy sense...Residents of New Jersey have failed to recognize the significant costs they absorb, and in reality, the minimal benefits they receive in turn, when the criminal justice system does little other than function as a temporary human warehouse called punishment. It is imperative that the residents of New Jersey be educated as to the...benefits to instituting increased rehabilitation efforts in our State's prisons."
A second report, "Coming Home for Good: Meeting the Challenge of Prison Reentry in New Jersey," published by the New Jersey Institute for SocialJustice, made similar recommendations: "Even within existing budget constraints, periods of incarceration can be used far more effectively to maximize successful reentry."On the other side of the coin, the Corrections Transition Policy Group(CTPG) generated a Final Report dated January 10, 2006, for Governor Corzine. While including some of the same members, their report was markedly different. Their report made ten recommendations. Eight made by the CTPG involve more money, more staff positions and therefore more power for prison unions.

Consider this: in July of 1999, the prison population was 31,300. In January 2005 it was 26,911, a reduction of some 14%. In 1999, prisoners had access to legal libraries, reading libraries, and educational assistance seven days per week, three times per day, morning, afternoon and night (barring holidays). In 2006, prisoners have access five days per week, twice per day, morning and afternoon (no weekends or holidays) and nighttime access has been all but eliminated a reduction of 52% (21 time periods to 10 periods). Eachtime the reason given for the reduction was staffing shortages. Yet today there are more guards working for the D.O.C. than there were in1999.

A second recommendation made by the CTPG was "Focus in-prison programming on quality education, drug treatment, and work..." Since around January 2005, the school area has been closed for more than 7 of16 months for various reasons. The repair shop work detail has been completely eliminated (50 inmate jobs removed). The State Use (Depcor) program has lost 22 job positions. The Laundry detail lost more than 10 inmate job positions. Nearly 100 jobs lost in all, in direct contradiction of the experts' recommendations. As of January 2006, State Use industries revenues at New Jersey State Prison (NJSP) were more than $250,000 less than a year previous. This shortfall can be directly attributed to the current management.

PrisonIndustries perform an invaluable role. In addition to supplying jobs, in Fiscal Years 2001/2002 State Use inmates paid more than $650,000toward court ordered obligations such as fines, child support, traffictickets, etc. It also saves the state thousands of dollars every year.During 2005, the NJSP was locked down three separate times. No one inmate who worked for State Use Industries received any institutional infraction during these periods. Not a single one. Yet jobs were cut 25%. You cannot run a successful business when the doorman controls the business.

Inmate literacy has been noted in other reports for more than six years, yet nothing has been done. These same people are still "talking". While not all the reports are beneficial to prisoners, they are all desperately needed because they show a gradual awakening in society that incarceration alone does not work, that educational opportunity and other programs for prisoners is not being soft on crime, but instead addresses the underlying causes of crime. Instead of more reports and recommendations, what is needed now is a voice-a voice to integrate what has been projected; and propose from these ideas a concrete manifestation.

One thing I have noted time and again: there is no input from current or former prisoners. I know many inmates are poorly educated or sufferingf rom various addictions. Others suffer from mental illness. None of us claim to be wizards, but we are more than baboons waving sticks. We dohave ideas, and who knows, some may actually prove to be good ones. Prisons in their current incarnation are dinosaurs waiting to die off. It's ironic that education has never been more available and widespread worldwide, and yet it is being slowly but surely eliminated from the prison environment.

Habeus Corpus Passes in the Senate, but not the Filibuster

It becomes more embarrassing by the day to wonder what America has become and continuing to become, or watch as it devolves into a dictatorship with the approval of Congress. The Senate rejected a bill today trying to restore Habeas Corpus - that would have given military detainees the right to protest their detention in federal court.

Senator Patrick Leahy said of the failed attempt:

"The truth is that casting aside the time-honored protection of habeas corpus makes us more vulnerable as a nation because it leads us away from our core American values," Leahy said. "It calls into question our historic roll as a defender of human rights around the world."

In 2006 Congress passed and Bush signed (gleefully) the Military Commissions Act, which established a military-run tribunal system for prosecuting enemy combatants. The provision barring habeas corpus petitions means that only detainees selected for trial are able to confront charges against them, leaving most military detainees in custody without a chance to plead their case.

The majority of Congress voted to restore habeas corpus, which means "you have the body" prisoners often seek release by filing a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. A writ of habeas corpus is a judicial mandate to a prison official ordering that an inmate be brought to the court so it can be determined whether or not that person is imprisoned lawfully and whether or not he should be released from custody.

The measure passed 56 - 43, but fell four votes short of 60 votes needed to end debate. No democrats voted against it, but Joe Lieberman did, that soul sucking wannabe Republican. Any centrist Democrats want to discuss why anyone in their right mind was supporting Ned Lamont last November? Would anyone like to have that debate now? And Susan Collins of Maine also voted against it, the centrist Republican who will be in the political fight of her life next November. The full roll call is here.

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty, nor safety." -Benjamin Franklin-

The Webb Amendment failed by the same margin 56-44.

9 questions for author saira rao

in between her book tour stops, saira rao addressed some of my burning questions about chambermaid. the subversive garden will soon be hosting a book party for saira in manhattan. for more info, please leave a comment on this post.

1. would you ever consider editing a book of all the clerkship stories? you have so many -- it could be a really fun project.

I think I am going to take a little breather from all things clerkship-related.

2. worst clerk story you've been told?

There are your run-of-the-mill sexual harassment stories. Tales involving judges who forbid their clerks from leaving chambers, even to attend funerals of family members. And then there's the one about molesting chickens.

3. was there one major reason or event that pushed you to write this book?

While clerking, I was struck by how little we, as Americans, know about our federal judges--the revered third branch of our federal government. Why do we know every detail about the President and our congressional representatives -- down to what they eat for breakfast--- yet we know nothing, nothing AT ALL about our judges? This is particularly strange considering that the judiciary is the only countermajoritarian branch of our government. We don't elect judges, cannot remove them, they hide under big black robes, are bestowed with "Your Honors" and earn six-figure salaries for life. Aren't we entitled to know just a little about them?

4. this kind of story -- clerkship truths -- is the first of its kind, right?

There have been other books—Closed Chambers comes to mind—written by former clerks about lessons learned during their clerkship. Chambermaid, however, is the first book of its kind – one written by a former clerk that spotlights the human/personal/bizarre side of judges and the eclectic cast of characters surrounding them.

5. what broad themes does this book represent for you?

Broadly, Chambermaid illustrates how unchecked power can lead to a total loss of respect for other people and a failure of basic human decency. On another level, it highlights some of the issues that are common to women and minorities in the workplace.

6. as your book continues to get more popular, is it reaching new audiences?

It is reaching new audiences, namely lots of book clubs have started to read it. This is wonderful for a host of reasons – best of all ---it means that many non-lawyers are reading Chambermaid and those outside of the legal profession don't take the book so personally!

7. what was your best book reading so far and why?

I am not sure there has been a best…or a worst for that matter. Each reading/signing has been unique and interesting and it's been spectacular fun to meet so many new people – in different cities, jobs, age groups, ethnicities. I have enjoyed every second of it. Well, maybe every other second.

8. tell us about your next book project...

It's in flux right now, so I'll plead the Fifth for the moment.

9. last question, what are you reading right now?

A lovely collection of stories, No One Belongs Here More Than You, by Miranda July. I LOVED "Me and You and Everyone We Know".

read more Q and A with the author on the WSJ's law blog.

thanks saira!

A Flyer Romney Does Not Want You to See

I saw this on Rawstory yesterday, but did not have the time to post. Oh my golly, is Mitt a flip flopper? This flyer is said to have been handed out in the 2002 gay pride parade in Boston I presume. My how things have changed in just a few short years. To be a Republican in America, Mitt you gotta hate. Sorry you were once tolerant for you are no longer in Massachusetts.

The Promotion of Failure in the Bush Administration

When this aired one week ago I thought it the most succinct and brilliantly crafted argument against trusting this Bush administration with anything, let alone a new Iraq policy. It ties the lies, spin and illegality of the war together without consequences and in most cases with promotions. In our face. The only consequences paid are by us, the American people, American soldiers and of course the Iraqi people and its beloved country that shall not recover for a millenium.

Keith is out this week with an emergency appendectomy. Please come back soon Keith, the cable networks seem naked without you.

Jim Webb Introduces Amendment to Support the Troops (for real though)

The Webb Amendment basically says for how ever long you are deployed in Iraq you need at least that much time away from the battlefield. Of course the "support the troops" Republicans are threatening a filibuster which they did last time with the Dems only receiving 56 votes for this amendment.

I understand these Rethuglicans do not like me or probably anyone who is on this site, but why on earth would they not support a bill like this? Is it truly because all of these assholes have never served a day in their life in the military? They send us to war, but would never go themselves. Fine. All Jim Webb asks that you chicken shit Republicans give these men and women some time off. Nope. "We cannot admit defeat." They are seriously vying for assclown status. We shall see.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

the jersey shore in hoboken

strange but true, there is now a real beach in hoboken overlooking the manhattan skyline... reported today on the new waterfront park/beach at maxwell place. we went to see the new green space 2 weeks ago after it was open to the public but we remained skeptical about the concept of a hudson river beach until today... 6 acres of park located at the site of the old maxwell house coffee company that includes a pier, playground and boathouse.