Friday, November 30, 2007

Hostages Held at Clinton Campaign in New Hampshire.

An armed man took people hostage Friday at a Hillary Clinton presidential campaign office in New Hampshire, police said.

The incident happened at about 1 p.m. Friday at 28 North Main St. in Rochester. Officials said that a man is holding people hostage at the office, but it is unclear how many people are being held.

Senator Clinton is in Washington, DC and supposedly negotiating. The person who took the hostages is supposedly also demanding to speak to the Senator.

[UPDATE 2] NH TV station WMUR has just reported that two hostages have been released. If in fact there were only two hostages remaining in the office, that would mean all the hostages are now safe, and only the man remains in the office.

Update 3 - Hostages still may be held. Here is the live link http://www.wmur.com/video/14738085/index.html

THE SAVAGES

got a movie for the weekend? i need a major escape this weekend cause i am starting a new chapter in my life monday (new job).
so...

i'm gonna check out the savages a "tragicomedy" by tamara jenkins of slums of beverly hills fame, with laura linney and philip seymour hoffman...
read the new york times review here. i think it will evoke sentiments as beautifully portrayed in you can count on me (with laura linney & a phenomenal mark ruffalo).

Move on contest: Vote for Your Favorite Ad

This is probably my favorite ad from the move on contest. Go vote for your favorite ad. It is to promote progressivism.

Merry Christmas: New Yorker Cover

TECHNOLOGY DOES GOOD IN NEW JERSEY SCHOOLS

"To me, the sole hope of human salvation lies in teaching."-George Bernard Shaw (playwright, author, critic)
i just saw this on an email bulletin where i find grant leads. i don't have an ipod (should i admit that?) but thought this concept was intriguing. hope it spreads to other school districts, i know paterson needs more creative learning techniques...


IN SOME SCHOOLS, iPODS ARE REQUIRED LISTENING Schools in New Jersey are buying into a new program that gives bilingual students with limited English ability iPods, reports Winnie Hu in the New York Times. The hope is that by singing along to popular English songs, students will sharpen their vocabulary and grammar skills. The program has already had an effect on Stephanie Rojas, who moved to New Jersey from Puerto Rico last year, as she now prefers to sing in English. Incorporating the devices into instruction began when Grace Poli, a media specialist, approached the district three years ago about buying 23 iPods for an after-school bilingual program. She then compiled an eclectic mix of music, typed out the lyrics and deleted the nouns -- and in turn the verbs and adjectives -- to force the students to fill in the missing words and thereby learn their meanings. Poli said her Spanish-speaking students were able to move out of bilingual classes after just a year of using the digital devices, compared to an average of four to six years for most bilingual students. After viewing the successes, the district plans to try iPods with students who have learning disabilities and behavioral problems. In addition, one of New Jersey’s poorest urban districts, Union City District, will give out 300 iPods as part of a $130,000 experiment.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Do I Now Have to Disavow My Beloved Red Sox?

Socialized Healthcare Please!!

“I shall propose a sweeping new program that will assure comprehensive health-insurance protection to millions of Americans who cannot now obtain it or afford it, with vastly improved protection against catastrophic illnesses,” - Richard Nixon- State of the Union Address 1974.

The Republicans have constantly attacked the Democrats (mostly Hillary Clinton) about their socialist viewpoints on health care, you know like covering the 50 million people that do not have any coverage. Yet, Richard Nixon offered a plan on February 6, 1974 that is very similar to Hillary Clinton's plan. “It was an extremely extensive plan, as I remember, that would have given universal coverage” for health care, recalled Rudolph Penner, a former director of the Congressional Budget Office and economic official in the Ford administration.

Nixon introduced his Comprehensive Health Insurance Act on Feb. 6, 1974, days after he used what would be his final State of the Union address to call for universal access to health insurance. Yet, Republicans continue to talk socialism despite their godfather Richard Nixon offering a similar plan.

A CBS News poll earlier this year found that 64 percent of Americans support federally guaranteed health insurance for all citizens. Clinton’s plan, like Nixon’s, calls for building on the existing private-sector health-care system and using government subsidies and tax credits to get all Americans under an umbrella of health coverage. Like Nixon, Clinton said her plan “is not government-run. There will be no new bureaucracy.”

Let the record show I think John Edwards has the best health care plan yet to be introduced by the candidates, but any plan is better than what we have now. I don't favor the Clinton plan that does curb the corporate profit margin in health care. We should have a government run system like every other western nation. This is not socialism, this is common sense.

Read the article on common dreams.

NEW--the other side of the hudson




if you live on the other side of the river in 'boken or jersey city, maybe you've seen NEW, a sorta magazine/guide to hudson county filled with arts news, local issues, shopping, eats, etc. the editions are free, helpful, and visually pleasing, get your copy here.

as described on their site, "NEW is published twice per year in the spring and the fall. The guide is integrated with the website and together they act as a definitive resource for contemporary living in New Jersey. We focus only on positive change and growth and always encourage creative and honest problem solving."

recently on their blog, NEW posted about maxwell's, the music venue that brings much needed hipness and clout to our mile square city. recently spotted at maxwell's? i read on nj.com's blog that catherine keener visited our town to hear rain phoenix's band, the papercranes...


The Hoboken Historical Museum hosts an unusual-for-a-historical-museum program focused on one of Hudson County's treasures: Maxwell's. Former owner/booker Steve Fallon and current co-owner/booker Todd Abramson "will talk about what has made Maxwell's one of the coolest area clubs since long before Brooklyn was hip." Here's hoping they delve into the idea of a rock club as catalyst for urban renewal and arts-scene building.

see the post here.

Hoboken Historical Museum
1301 Hudson St. (201)656-22404
$5 (Museum members get in free)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Quote of the Week: Tito Tricot

"There is something truly perverse about the privatization of the Iraq War and the utilization of mercenaries. The externalization of services or outsourcing attempts to lower the costs - 'third world' mercenaries are paid less than their counterparts from the developed world - and maximize benefits, i.e.: Let others fight the war for the Americans. In either case, the Iraqi people do not matter at all. It is precisely this dehumanization of the 'enemy' that makes it easier for the private companies and the U.S. government to recruit mercenaries. It is exactly the same strategy used by the Chilean military to train members of the secret police and make it easy to annihilate opponents of dictatorship. In other words, Chilean mercenaries in Iraq is business as usual." - Tito Tricot- in Jeremy Scahill's brilliant Blackwater: The Rise of the World's Most Powerful Mercenary Army

Kevin Youklis the Jewish First Baseman for the Red Sox

This is so funny and heartwarming in a way. Dennis Leary a die hard Red Sox fan finds out Youklis for the Red Sox is Jewish and hilarity ensues (i.e. attacks on Mel Gibson)

Online Videos by Veoh.com

Tin Can Garden Lanterns


Do you want to start a small art project in the winter months, make gifts for your friends and recycle cans all at the same time?

Here is a great How-To create a Garden Lantern article to get you started. There is a good tip about freezing sand & water in the can to keep it's shape while you hammer out the design.

The picture on the left shows different leaf designs but the lanterns would look equally beautiful with a random abstract design. Have fun!

Texas' Feminist Bookstore Faced with Closure


It seems like only yesterday that I brought news of another woman owned business closing up shop in Austin, Texas. Sadly, I have more news. Texas’ only feminist bookstore is being forced to close up shop if it can’t raise $50,000 by mid-December – that’s just around the corner, kids.

I have such great memories of BookWoman. I remember when I was young and my mother returned from a trip to Austin sporting a new shirt she got from the local women’s bookstore (the pic on the left was what was on the shirt). I was in awe. I didn’t know there was such a thing. I had never even thought about feminism much less the need for a space for women’s work. When I moved to Austin a few years later for school, BookWoman became one of my favorite places. I bought some of my first feminist theory books there, perused the music section and attended many organizing events.

Needless to say, I’m certain that BookWoman is important to many, many other Texans – young, old, male, female, most importantly feminists. Do what you can to help them find a more affordable space and keep their doors open. Learn more about their struggle and donate a little scratch.

All I Want for Christmas is More Consolidated Media

FreePress has this pdf report as well: 10 Facts Kevin Martin Doesn’t Want You to Know About His New Media Ownership Rules.

FreePress has ways for you to get involved as well.



Fight back at stop big media

Rethinking Evolution

Upon the election that are getting closer (Distance and Time are a relative terms) and while the political debate is getting hotter, moving steadily into the center of attention, I felt that it is time to come out of my so called intellectual closet and admit it: I am rethinking Evolution.

Me, the one that used to get upset stomach every time an opposing explanation was raised around, and don’t get me wrong, even though I never believed in god whatever her name is, I did not have any problems of accepting her into the equation of human being. It’s not that I accepted her but more like that I tolerate people that believed she is a valid part of existence (as long as they accepted my right to oppose it or better say to doubt it).

But as an observer, which can spend all his energy in thinking about what I see and read in the media due to the fact that I can’t, even if I wants, to actively participate, I slowly realized, that there is no way in the world that “Number One” can look at himself in the mirror and believe in Evolution, I mean, him standing there as “Number One”, he out of all the people, is already a tough contradiction, or better said flaw in the theory of evolution.

Furthermore, I Can’t imagine Number Twos, whatever their name are at the current moment, Looking at themselves in the mirror, without having the same creepy feeling that something is wrong with the theory as seen in the mirror.
And so their opinions on the matter suddenly make more sense than ever, and looking at them through the media, even I got my doubts about it. It’s hard to digest it but reality keeps blowing in my face, and no evolution theory can explain, Number One, Number Twos or any of their decisions.

THE VAMPIRE EFFECT

before leaving for our recent trip, i thought hmm, let me unplug stuff in our apartment to save some dollars and power. i unplugged the power cords, laptop, clock, lamps, etc. and thought gee, i'm getting something done here!

well, not really. according to the recent good magazine and their monthly spread charts called transparency (such as our outrageous sugar consumption and student debt rates, etc.), i only hit the tip of the iceberg with our lurking vampire energy. even when our appliances are turned off, most still consume electricity, either in passive or active mode. good magazine's chilling vampire chart (not yet online but will be soon) tracks average standby modes and annual kilowatt sucked energy. vampire energy is estimated to cost us consumers $3 billion a year.

the worst culprit in active standby mode? a plasma tv at 1,452.4 kws or 160 bucks. while i did right by unplugging the laptop (144.5 kws, much lower than a desktop at 311) and rechargeable toothbrush (12.3 kws), i didn't unplug our cordless phone charger or TV combo VCR/DVD player (171 kws). we don't have a microwave, but that sets you back 35 kws. and don't forget game consoles -- they eat up lots of active power at 234 kws.

so what should we do? obsessively plug/unplug stuff? buy less stuff? buy with a better conscience?

i suggest all that and investing in smart strips to curb your idle power use or check out the mini power minder (cheap at 15 bucks) that has "the smarts to shut off your computer’s peripherals and doodads when the computer itself is shut down."

well worth the price, right?

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Polls, Polls, Polls

Today, a new poll that has things all tied up, in Iowa at least. The poll comes from Strategic Vision, a GOP-leaning firm:

On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are tied at 29%, and Edwards is at 23% -- needless to say, the three remain within the margin of error.

On the Republican side, Mitt Romney is now in a statistical tie with Mike Huckabee, 26% to 24%. Giuliani is at 14%, Thompson at 10%, and McCain at 7%.

Gallup came out with a new general election poll, and it looks good for Democrats as Clinton and Obama lead 7 match-ups against Republicans, the eight one being tied:

Hillary Clinton leads Rudy Giuliani 49% to 44% and John McCain 50% to 44%. She has massive leads against Mitt Romney (54% to 38%) and Fred Thompson 53% to 40%.
Barack Obama only ties Giuliani at 45%, but he leads against McCain 47% to 44%, against Romney 52% to 35% and against Thompson 51% to 38%.

Jesse Jackson on the Presidential Race


Interesting...and I think I agree. Facts are facts. They cannot be disputed.

Most Democratic candidates are ignoring African Americans
November 27, 2007

JESSE JACKSON

Can Democrats get the votes they need simply because they're not Republicans? You might think so in this presidential campaign. African-American and urban votes are critical to any Democratic victory. Bill Clinton won two terms without winning the most white votes. His margin was the overwhelming support of black voters. George Bush learned that lesson; that's why his campaigns spent so much effort suppressing the black vote in key states like Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004. His victory margin was the tally of votes suppressed or uncounted.

Yet the Democratic candidates -- with the exception of John Edwards, who opened his campaign in New Orleans' Ninth Ward and has made addressing poverty central to his campaign -- have virtually ignored the plight of African Americans in this country. The catastrophic crisis that engulfs the African-American community goes without mention. No urban agenda is given priority. When thousands of African Americans marched in protest in Jena, La., not one candidate showed up.

Democratic candidates are talking about health care and raising the minimum wage, but they aren't talking about the separate and stark realities facing African Americans.
The civil rights movement succeeded in ending segregation and providing blacks with the right to vote. But the end of legal apartheid did not end the era of discrimination. And the ending of institutionalized violence did not end institutionalized racism.

Patterns of discrimination are sharply etched. African Americans have, on average, about half of the good things that whites have, and double the bad things. We have about half the average household income and less than half the household wealth. On the other hand, we're suffering twice the level of unemployment and twice the level of infant mortality (widely accepted as a measure of general health).

African Americans are brutalized by a system of criminal injustice. Young African Americans are more likely to be stopped, more likely to be searched if stopped, more likely to be arrested if searched, more likely to be charged if arrested, more likely to be sentenced to prison if charged, less likely to get early parole if imprisoned. Every study confirms that the discrimination is systemic and ruinous. And yet no candidate speaks to this central reality.

African Americans are more likely to go to overcrowded and underfunded schools, more likely to go without health care, more likely to drop out, less likely to find employment. Those who do work have less access to banks and are more likely to be ripped off by payday lenders, more likely to be stuck with high-interest auto and business loans, and far more likely to be steered to risky mortgages -- even when adjusting for income. And yet, no candidate speaks to this central reality.

The result is visiting a catastrophe on the urban black community. I and many others campaign for young people to stay in school, to graduate and not to make babies until they are prepared to be parents. My son and I write and teach about personal financial responsibility. Personal responsibility is critical. But personal responsibility alone cannot overcome the effects of a discriminatory criminal justice and economic system in generating broken families and broken dreams.

The Rev. Martin Luther King saw the movement to end segregation and gain voting rights as the first stage of the civil rights movement. The second stage -- to gain economic justice and equal opportunity in fact -- he knew would be more difficult. Now, 40 years later, it is no longer acceptable for candidates to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear to entrenched discrimination and still expect to reap our votes.

Chris Dodd asks the Republicans a youtube question?

THE ELEGANT UNIVERSE

local hoboken artist femi ford has a new exhibit, the elegant universe... check out the reception on dec. 1 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Gala Pilates Studio, 262 first street in the mile square city. a few weeks ago, i met with the artist in her studio and saw a sneak peek of studies of these fantastic tableaux. she also explained the process of etching and how she developed this project.

a recent article in the waterfront journal and on nj.com highlights her work and influence for this show:

Using mixed media, I explore how time, space, and energy are related and as a result some work rests calm and serene while others are tumultuous and aggressive. I am inspired by "String Theory"; many physicists now believe that strings -- minuscule multidimensional vibrating strands of energy thought to make up all matter -- hold the key to uniting the world of the very large and the very small in a single theory sought by Einstein and countless others.
While incorporating these ideas and theories, my paintings & etchings have leaned towards abstract expressions. My strong affinity with physics and water leads me to create works that are fluid and organic. The creative process is my passion and serves as an outlet for my emotions. I enjoy the feeling of freedom & solitude when creating art and enjoy getting lost in my work.

more of femi's art: paintings and etchings.

Monday, November 26, 2007

THREE CUPS OF TEA

a friend of mine (coffee barista melissa from mola) recommended a book three cups of tea to me a few months ago. i got it from three lives bookstore right away then put it on my shelf of to do reading. and finally last week, i dived in and read it through. three cups of tea tells the story of greg mortenson (see photo at left) and his mission to educate children in remote areas of pakistan and afghanistan as a way to promote peace. mortenson, a former mountaineer and K2 climber, stumbled upon a rural village when he lost his track down the mountain. and so began a new journey and life's work for him as a builder of schools in areas where the taliban holds strong. he asserts a simple goal: provide schools and non-religious based education for children in remote, impoverished areas to combat terrorism and extremism.

for over a decade, mortenson has faced incredible obstacles (kidnapping, treacherous working conditions, death threats after 9/11, lack of funds, meetings with the taliban, fatwas against him by mullahs and a meeting with rumsfeld) and ultimately flourished. he runs the central asia institute "to promote and provide community-based education and literacy programs, especially for girls, in remote mountain regions of Central Asia."

at times i wondered how he pushed forward despite the adversity and impossiblity. mortenson always thought about the families he first encountered in korphe, pakistan and how the village cared for him when he was lost and near death. yet the book, written by mortenson and david oliver relin, doesn't get too maudlin or pull at your heart shamelessly. mortenson is that rare person who commits to changing the world and never stops. i'm planning to donate this week to CAI. read for yourself and be inspired. don't we all need that now?

The National Labor Relations Board is Abominable

After coming home from Paris and dealing with striking railway workers for ten days it was interesting to come home to news of the abominable National Labor Relations Board. It is a bit of old news, but ironic that the workers in France, if unhappy - strike, upset the entire country and are joined in unison by Air France workers, all fonctionaire workers, teachers, students (yes, students), the museums, etc. It was both a little frustrating and completely invigorating. I heard about this assault by the Bush administration on labor by the NLRB, but after seeing real labor power in France, it strikes me as ever more important for the progressive movement to get behind labor and push for labor reform as soon as possible.

Recent decisions by the National Labor Relations Board has unions and pro labor folks up in arms and the thought of a democratic presidency (one that is truly pro labor, not Bill Clinton) is also invigorating.

The National Labor Relations Board was established to encourage "the practice and procedure of collective bargaining" and to protect the "exercise by workers of full freedom of association, self-organization, and designation of representatives of their own choosing, for the purpose of negotiating the terms and conditions of their employment or other mutual aid and protection."

For years unions have been saying that the NLRB system is broken and has become a tool of corporate interests and not the worker interests it was supposed to serve. That is why the labor movement and its progressive allies are pushing to amend the law with the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). "But the recent NLRB decisions say that the corporate Bush backers are not satisfied. They want the law completely eviscerated before Bush leaves office to make it even more difficult for a new President and Congress to address the problems of the denial of worker rights in America."

The Change to Win Federation says that in the month of September alone, on the eve of the close of the fiscal year, the Bush NLRB issued 61, mostly anti-worker, decisions -- fully 20 percent of its total output of decisions for the year. Greg Tarpinian, the executive director of the Change to Win Federation wrote recently and most eloquently:

The onslaught of decisions that are a direct violation of the intent of the National Labor Relations Act that established the NLRB is particularly interesting given that more than half of the decisions were on cases that are over four years old. For an agency notorious in its use of delay as a way to deprive workers of their rights, the sudden spate of decisions suggests that the Bush Administration is in full court press mode and will use its last months in office to gut as much as it can in the area of worker, consumer, environmental, and other protections.

This President has not only run roughshod over the Constitution, he has also destroyed the administrative rules by which our progressive laws have been enforced. And he plans on finishing the job before he leaves office. Labor, consumer, environmental, and other advocates for the American Dream need to link arms together to stop him.


Here are some examples of the assault on labor cases. I am taking this from the Change to Win Federation website.


Harder to join a union, easier to get rid of a union

Dana Corp., 351 NLRB No. 28 (Sept. 29, 2007) – In its fervor to undermine majority sign-up - the right of a majority of workers to sign a card to express their desire to gain a voice on the job and join a union - the Board reversed 40 years of precedent and invented a new rule: even when more than 50% of the workers sign cards indicating they want a union and the employer respects that choice, a 30% minority of employees may, within 45 days of voluntary recognition, petition to decertify the union, prevent the parties from bargaining, and force employees to suffer through the NLRB’s lengthy and divisive election process. Adding insult to injury, the NLRB ruled that employers would henceforth be required to post notices making sure employees are aware of their rights to overturn the union’s representation, but the notice does not include any mention of employees’ right to form a union free from interference.

Wurtland Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 351 NLRB No. 50 (Sept. 29, 2007) – The Board took the opposite view about the reliability of signing a card when it comes to getting rid of a union! In this case, the NLRB ruled that signatures on a petition were sufficient to get rid of an existing union and the Board rejected its own election process, arguing that employees who want to get rid of their union should not have to endure the delay involved in a decertification election. In Dana, the NLRB said that signature cards were not true indicators of employee support.

Harder for illegally fired workers to get back pay

St. George Warehouse, 351 NLRB No. 42 (Sept. 30, 2007) – The NLRB reversed 45 years of precedent and shifted burdens of proof onto illegally fired workers, making it harder for those workers to recover back pay.

The Grosvenor Resort, 350 NLRB No. 86 (Sept. 30, 2007) - The Board announced a new rule that workers who were found to have been illegally fired but who wait more than two weeks before giving up on getting their job back and looking for a new job work will be denied back pay for that period so as not to “reward idleness.”

Easier for Employers to Fire and Intimidate Union Supporters

BP Amoco Chemical-Chocolate Bayou, 351 NLRB No. 39 (Sept. 29, 2007) - The Board ruled that it was perfectly permissible for an employer to target union supporters for layoffs, and then to force them to sign release forms, as a condition to receiving severance pay, that prevented them or anyone else from challenging the legality of their termination.

This is a shocking assault on the power of the American worker. Know that every assault on any union worker is assault on all American workers, chipping away at what the labor movement achieved in America over the past 100 years. Take action and condemn the Bush administration's assault on workers.

The Controversial and Hysterical Chris Rock on Obama v. Hillary

Trent Lott Will Leave the Senate: Who Cares?

Trent Lott is leaving the Senate. Reportedly, it is so he can skirt the new ethics laws on lobbying. He wants to go directly to the free market and bilk the American people outside of elected office. If he waits until the end of the year he will have to wait two years. Thanks, Trent, we hardly knew ya.

He is the very definition of assclown.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving: In Memoriam


Happy Thanksgiving from France (pronounced phronce). On yesterday we decided to go on a journey to northern France to track down my great grandfather who was Scottish and decided in 1914 that the Germans were a bit much for this world to take. He went and joined the Royal Highlanders of the United Kingdom, the Black Watch. He joined with four young children at home and an adopted daughter on the way; my great grandmother assuming matriarchal status. This was after all the war to end all wars. Because he was killed my great grandmother decided to come to America. She sent her daughter to work in America and eventually nearly the entire family was brought to the states. I remember a picture of four generations: My young brother, Rich, my mother, Lynda, my grandmother, Ina and Nana Barnes, T. H. Barnes husband.

We had some information that the grave was in Bethune, France - though this proved to be far from the full information. With the help of a French family we tracked him down where he is buried in Vermeilles, France. We set out at 10:00 am for the journey. We arrived in the area at noon, ate lunch in a small French village and received adequate directions to the cemetery.

Once we were there it was obvious we were upon a World War I cemetery, in the middle of an adorable French village. We looked him up in the guest book. He was from Naysmith, Kielty, Fife Scotland. Age 39, husband of Agnes, killed in action on August 23, 1915. It took us some searching, but we found his grave shortly after arriving. Over 2000 British soldiers are buried here (including within Scottish and Irish), seven French soldiers and almost 200 unidentified soldiers.

We found the grave, at Plot I E. 15. Thomas Henry Barnes. It gave his name, his service number #S/8277, his date of death August 23, 1915. Below on the bottom of the weathering stone it read:

Father
In thy gracious sleeping
Leave we now
thy servant sleeping


We spent Thanksgiving giving thanks to those that came before us and gave so much. When wars had to be fought (though certainly not perfect - see Kubrick's the Paths of War), not because we went to war for profit, oil, whims and lies. His memory is one that reminds us of how much is lost in war, our men, women, our families, our homes, our cities, and our nations.

In memory of my great grandfather on Thanksgiving, 2007 I give thanks.

Iraqi women: An Unreported Story

Violence is certainly down in Iraq, but it is most likely temporary. And the report that the "political solution" in Iraq is now not being pursued (the entire reason for the surge) highlights the still deteriorating situation. See below though a report of the consequences of this war for Iraqi women. It is not surprising that the Bush administration is not reporting on it; or that it is not on the American agenda at all. Judging by its lack of condemnation for the Saudi governments prosecution of a woman who has been gang raped the Bush administration can not go much lower. Iraqi women were the most western in the Arab world before the war.

Friday, November 23, 2007

Remembering a Hope, a Dream, a President


Yesterday marked the anniversary of the assassination of JFK. On November 22, 1963, my mother, and millions around the world, cried. She, like so many others, believed that this man, the son of a bootlegger, could be a great man, a hope for our beleaguered country. In his inauguration speech, the former president spoke of the need for unity. He reminded the world that without it, all is lost. On this day, I wanted to remind us of a man who was not a god, a man whose life was not that of a saint, but who offered true statesmanship. He was, in a word, a leader.


Here is just a short excerpt from JFK's inauguration speech in 1960. Take two minutes from your busy lives to go back to a January day 47 years ago when, for so many Americans, the future seemed wide open.


"To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required — not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich...


To that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations, our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge of support — to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for invective — to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak — and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.


So let us begin anew — remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate."


Thursday, November 22, 2007

The Smoking Gun?


This article was sent to me from my sister, Sarah. It was written for The Nation by John Nichols. I have included excerpts from this highly-important piece condemning the criminal felonies carried out by the Bush administration with regard to the Valerie Plame case.
As my sister wrote, this could be the smoking gun. But, unfortunately, it may be too litle, too late, especially with a chicken-shit Democratic Congress. Mark my words, Nancy Pelosi does nothing substantial to investigate the stunning evidence from former Press Secretary, Scott McClellan.
"What McClellan has revealed, in a section from an upcoming book on his tenure in the Bush-Cheney White House, is a stunning indictment of the president and the vice president. The former press secretary is confirming that Bush and Cheney not only knew that Rove, the administration's political czar, and Libby, who served as Cheney's top aide, were involved in the scheme to attack Wilson's credibility -- by outing the former ambassador's wife, Valerie Plame, as a Central Intelligence Agency analyst -- but that the president and vice president actively engaged in efforts to prevent the truth from coming out."The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White house briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby," writes McClellan in an excerpt from his book, What Happened, which is to be published next April by Public Affairs.
"There was one problem," the long-time Bush aide continues. "It was not true. I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration "were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice President, the President's chief of staff, and the president himself."
Much has been made about the fact that outing Plame as a CIA operative was a felony, since knowingly revealing the identity of an intelligence asset is illegal. And much will be made about the fact that McClellan's statement links Bush and Cheney to the cover-up of illegal activities and the obstruction of justice, acts that are themselves felonies.
But it is important to recognize that a bigger issue is at stake. If the president and vice president knowingly participated in a scheme to attack a critic of their administration -- Wilson had revealed that the White House had been informed that arguments Bush and Cheney used for attacking Iraq were ungrounded -- they have committed a distinct sort of offense that the House Judiciary Committee has already determined to be grounds for impeachment."

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Guns, The States & The Supreme Court

Breaking news per the NY Times – the Supreme Court has decided to hear the challenge to the DC handgun ban. I am not well enough versed in Constitutional law or gun control issues, but I still have a few thoughts on the issue. Please feel free to add to this discussion in the comments section.

Clearly, the DC gun ban has not deterred the murder rate in DC, as shown by the uptick in murders this year. People are still able to get guns from Maryland and Virginia. It seems like American guns are wreaking havoc outside of the US too. I read the other day that 100% of the drug murders in Mexico are committed with American guns. 100%!

Which makes me wonder, if we do ban guns, where will they all go? Why are there so many in the first place? Who in their right mind really thinks the 2nd Amendment is meant for Americans to have their own guns? Why the hell do so many Americans need guns anyway?

As you can see, I have many thoughts on guns and the banning of them. Mostly, I just think the whole thing is ludicrous. Nevertheless, I do think, fairly certainly, that the Roberts Court will decide the gun ban is unconstitutional. Then Americans can have even more guns! Goody!

So, in honor of Thanksgiving, I propose a toast to the American gun lobby. Thank you NRA and your backwards-ass supporters. I’ll be thinking of you this Thanksgiving when I inevitably find out that another American, or perhaps Mexican, was killed needlessly by a gun.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Vive La France

I am sitting in a cafe in the latin quarter waiting to eat crepes and more crepes for dinner and dessert. I thought I would share the strikes with the states. Or at least some. The union(s) here are formidable to say the least. Here is an article that the postal service is joining the strike. What is more the students and professors are threatening a strike. Tourists are starting to complain.

The strike is certainly complicated, so much so my meandering through it would confuse. But, what is interesting to see (though many in France would disagree) is the power of the French worker. The strike is over a threatened cut in retirement, vacation and longevity. Instead of negotiation the workers striked (though not all are striking). The majority of the workers who have gained power and benefits that make ours look like a developing nation's benefits, do not want to give it up - including five weeks in the summer when the entire nation goes on holiday. Many say it is time for France to modernize and compete with America, Japan, China and India among others. I am not sure they are right.

What I am sure of is the French worker has power that the American worker cannot even dream of. Not only are they at the negotiating table they can paralyze an entire nation's transportation system. One metro user summed it up best. We were waiting for the Metro last night to go to dinner at the Eiffel tower which was breathtaking and suddenly an announcement came over the intercom that the Metro was retiring for the night. He looked at Nicole and I and said "vive la France." I join him.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Kill Your SUV (with the help of SF Appeals Court)


From the New York Times and NPR:


SAN FRANCISCO, Nov. 15 — A federal appeals court here rejected the Bush administration’s year-old fuel-economy standards for light trucks and sport utility vehicles on Thursday, saying that they were not tough enough because regulators had failed to thoroughly assess the economic impact of tailpipe emissions that contribute to climate change.
A three-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, in San Francisco, voided the new regulations for 2008-2011 model year vehicles and told the Transportation Department to produce new rules taking into account the value of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
The court, siding with 4 environmental groups and 13 states and cities, also asked the government to explain why it still treated light trucks — which include pickups, sport utility vehicles and minivans — more mildly than passenger cars.


A sea change? "“What this says to me is that the courts are catching up with climate change and the law is catching up with climate change,” said Patrick A. Parenteau, an environmental law professor at Vermont Law School. “Climate change has ushered in a whole new era of judicial review.”


Could this lead to the potential demise of the SUV, which NPR reported is only used 30% of the time off-road? The case may go to the Supreme Court, or may be usurped by a Congressional bill that would raise efficiency levels to 35 m.p.g. Either way, the case has finally found a way to get the ball rolling to progress.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Corn, Ethanol, the Rich and Hunger


The above title is the name of a great article written by Mark Sommer. He writes for and runs the award-winning program, A World of Possibilities. In the article, which I have done my best to translate from the Portuguese I read it in (in the local Bauru, SP newspaper Jornal da Cidade), Sommer starts with this: looking beyond corn-based ethanol, it is necessary to search for energy that overcomes the ethically-abhorrent opposition of gasoline for the rich or food for the famished.


Here is some more from his look into a crucial issue in the upcoming years.


"In recent years, huge agribusinesses like Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland have pressured the White house and Congress in order to obtain huge subsidies destined for the production of corn, which has led to the imposition of import tariffs of 54 cents to the gallon. Corn ethanol is bad business all around. As an antidote to climate change, its contribution is insignificant, in that it emits just 13% less greenhouse gases than gasoline. Its rising costs are already evident for the 800 million people who do not have enough to eat.


The pressure applied due to the demand for corn ethanol caused, last year, an increase of 50% in the price of tortilla, the food staple of Mexico. China and India have started to face inflation provoked by the increasing price of corn as well as soy. The world food reserves have begun to fall to levels in which they would not be able to confront a great famine such as those caused by the droughts, floods and other climate disturbances occurring with ever-more-increasing frequency."


According to Sommer, the key to minimizing the economic and environmental impact of ethanol consists in using research and planning to first, make cellulose-based ethanol a reality, by reducing its price and investing in mass-production capabilities, and second, by only using land unfit for food crops, to grow corn or sugar-cane for ethanol. This way, the potential for disaster can be greatly reduced. As he says, the high prices for food do not help the farmer or the consumer. The only ones helped by rising prices are the middlemen...the Cargills of the world.

another kind of November 1st


my brother, and local NJ artist, John Fogarty, keeps the art flowing with a new piece, steeped in surrealism, and floating in color. Keep staring until you start floating. Support NJ art and check out his stuff on http://flickr.com/.

Thoughts on growing up

It has been raining a lot recently. I

have been living far away from 'home' for

a long time, and rain is something big here. where

I am living. now. I never thought so much about water

when i was younger. To be honest, I thought about things like

the next club, the next bar. I had big thoughts, too, sometimes.

But, normally, they got pushed to the recesses. Today was

enough, back then. Long ago, but yesterday.

These days, when it rains, I get to thinking. But,

the thoughts seem to weigh more. They press down on

my head, in my head. Until the baby starts screaming.

Or the rain stops.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

GREEN YOUR TURKEY

(from flickr)
we won't be having the usual t-giving feast this year but we plan on keeping it local. here are some tips to keep your day green from the huffington post.

and from the ideal bite, reasons to think local:

The Benefits
*Lower emissions. An Iowa State University study found that people who switched to buying 10% of their produce from local sources produced 5-17 times less CO2 overall than if they'd bought nonlocal.
*Community connections. Sociologists estimate that people who skip the supermarket in favor of farmers markets have about 10 times the number of conversations while shopping...that's 10 more chances to get lucky.
*Supporting family farms. Most conventional foods travel an average of 1,500 mi before ending up on your plate. Buying in your own backyard saves a lotta energy.
*Triumphing in the face of adversity. Amid supermarket aisles full of canned stuffing made in China, a 100-mi Thanksgiving can take some creativity, but that makes it all the more satisfying...and tasty.

*Personally Speaking

Show us whatcha got: Post your local Thanksgiving menus in the blog - the first 25 Biters to do so will win a copy of Paul Hawken's latest book, Blessed Unrest.

*Wanna Try?
100 Mile Diet - read other peoples' stories, and learn how to get started.
Local Harvest - find local farms and farmers markets.

the silverman sisters sandwich & the writers strike

as always, i look to sarah for wisdom. check out this clip with her sis laura and kathy griffin (not a favorite of mine, but she explains the strike issues clearly), as they support the writers. laura explains that the sarah silverman program won't shoot new episodes til the strike is settled.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Gone to paris...be back soon.

Dennis Kucinich of Ohio

I know this is a week old, but I just like the way it sounds...it is like a songbird to my ears.

Hillary's Planted Question(s)

I have been reluctant to comment on the story. But, enough has been reported and it stinks. The student who asked the planted question is now talking and says she was not the only one. I tried to get the videos to place on the blog, but on youtube they are all disabled (Clinton campaign maybe?). So, here is the link to the question and the student interview. Here is a CNN video of the report:


Who knows if Hillary knew that questions were being planted, but this smacks of a campaign who thinks they have a divine right to the throne and can sauce her way in. No thanks. I oppose her nomination for one reason mostly and that is dynastic politics. We need someone fresh and Edwards and Obama seem to be the real deal, albeit with some flaws. At the very least they are not the most well funded campaign by defense, insurance and health care like Mrs. Clinton.

Here is John Edwards latest commercial. I like it:

Monday, November 12, 2007

The Jefferson-Jackson Dinner


This is usually the event that kicks off the Iowa caucus campaign. Below are the speeches if you are interested. Hillary's full speech is not yet available. All in all they are the same, but Edwards and Obama are trying to be the change candidates and lately they are succeeding. Obama has cut Hillary's poll numbers by ten points in N.H. And in Iowa nearly every campaign rival agrees if the caucus was held today Edwards would win.

hillary's speech

Edwards speech

Obama's speech

Let Us Not March Anymore

On Veterans Day, 2007 here is a little Phil Ochs - "I ain't marchin' anymore." On Veterans Day we glorify war and honor those who died for our freedom, but we never say let us stop the madness and stop the war. Why? I honor all those who gave their lives, limbs and bodies for American. Let us renew, however the cause of liberty not just the cause or war. Also, daily kos has a piece called the visual veteran, on Veterans Day we go to the tomb of the unknown soldier and every war memorial for a memorial of the veterans. But, what about those veterans who come home and can no longer make it in the "American Dream." How do we honor them? More than 25 percent of the homeless population in the U.S. are homeless veterans, though they represent 11 percent of the civilian population.



Phil Ochs - "I ain't Marching Anymore"

Sunday, November 11, 2007

20 Million Reasons to Register to Vote

20 Million reasons to vote - Women's Voices, Women vote. It used to be soccer moms, Nascar Dads and value voters, but this 2008 election is focused on the unmarried women's vote.

to do: make your TO DO list

we all have our secret and not-so-secret to do lists. even though my treo contains a lot of my to do stuff, i still scribble down mini-lists throughout the day. well here's a gal who blogged about lists, collected lists and now has published a book. she invites folks to send her their lists to preserve the dying habit. should i share my obsessive, completely trite tasks for preserving?

see the promo...

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Memories of Jersey...Lyndhurst 1991.

I had to take the Main Line sometimes. NJ Transit. Lyndhurst stop. You see, I went to St. Peter's Prep, in Jersey City, for high school. And every time, I mean every time, I went to Lyndhurst, I realized how much difference a town makes.

The place is still a lot different from my shady suburb of Rutherford. But back in the late 80s, early 90s, things were a bit more brightly contrasting. First of all, if you've never been to the town of Lyndhurst, it is slightly homogeneous, to say the least. In 1991, that overtly Bensonhurst feel was all-too-obvious. So, when I would get the rare opportunity to head to the Main Line, I got to take in the sights and sounds of my sister city.

For example, Iroc-Zs. These fashion statements on wheels were everywhere. Up and down Park Avenue, on any given day, a passerby could see a young man with a mullet and tail driving one of these muscular testaments to masculinity at high speeds, while yelling at any young lady who happened to be strolling past.

And the clothes, ah the clothes. What I remember most were the Z-Cavericcis (I forget how the brand was spelled). They were the pair of pants. If your address was anywhere in L-town, you had to have one of these testaments to style. They had about ten buttons on the front, were normally black, and went well with Reebok aerobic high-tops. Ah, yes.

Oh, and the open-mindedness. My brother used to get his hair cut in a fine establishment located in the town in question. The barber, who used to love to go hunting, described numerous incidents in places like Garden State Shopping, when he was forced to do his civic duty by assisting young black teens with their fashion statements by "pulling their pants all the way down." The tact and diplomacy displayed by this gentleman exemplify Lyndhurst to me, circa 1991.

Truth from a Fish


Some Crazy Sh.. from NJ

This data came from one of my favorite source, Harper's, and it just goes to show that NJ is, well, NJ. I do miss it so. But I will be back soon. Say, March.

1. A New Jersey woman sent 80,000 cans of Silly String, which can locate trip wires, to U.S. troops in Iraq; a military spokesperson thanked her but admitted that soldiers don't use as much Silly String today as they did at the beginning of the war.

2. Forty-nine percent of New Jersey residents admitted they'd rather live somewhere else.

I have no idea how to interpret either of these tidbits of Jersey, but there they are. For you, the SG reader, to take as you will.

Who Has the Whitest Campaign Staff?

Madga Flores sent this to me from the website feministing. Who has the whitest campaign staff? Giuliani, the Ex-Mayor of New York City (thank god) has the whitest campaign staff. He also has the dudeliest campaign staff.

JUNO is BORN

can't wait for juno on dec 5th... a story of teen pregnancy with a strong female character. starring all our favorites from arrested development and the office.

Quote of the campaign

“You people are really nuts... There’s kids dying in the war, the price of oil right now — there’s better things in this world to be thinking about than who served Hillary Clinton at Maid-Rite and who got a tip and who didn’t get a tip.”

-- Anita Esterday, telling a reporter who asked her about the so-called "tipping" scandal of the Clinton campaign.

Friday, November 9, 2007

cracking the corn habit

who are these dudes & why are they in a cornfield?

i heard about this documentary, king corn, but haven't seen it yet. king corn tells the story of 2 good friends, an acre of corn and this subsidized crop that fuels our fast food nation.

on october 31st, these 2 buddies decided to take on a "king corn" challenge for the month of november:

The rules of the challenge are simple in theory, but treacherous in their reach, a symptom of the broad adoption of corn byproducts and feed usage in our industrialized food system.

--No corn products, apart from fresh corn on the cob.
--No soda or other products made from high fructose corn syrup.
--No meat, dairy, chicken, fish, or other animals that have been raised on corn products.
--No products that contain corn derivatives.

join them by signing up here or check out their progress here.

if this is just too much to take on now, see the daily green, a new website launched by hearst media that touts itself as "the consumer's guide to the [green] revolution." i found some useful tips (lots of familiar stuff i post from ideal bite or grist) but most useful is the "get local info" menu which directs you to recycling resources, markets, etc.

will this website make green mainstream?

Bush and Musharraf are Not Strange Bed Fellows

Much of this post taken from Think Progress and Eteraz

I have been reluctant to report on a situation I do not know much about. I do know Musharraf came to power in a bloodless coup in 1999, replacing an elected prime minister, despite that is very friendly with the Bush administration. On November 3rd Musharraf suspended the Pakistan Constitution and imposed emergency rule citing a need to "curb terrorism and reign in activist judges." Musharraf had been on a collision course with the Supreme Court who were set to rule on a number of cases that would have challenged Musharraf as President and Commander of the military simultaneously.

The Provisional Constitutional Order that followed the emergency declaration put Pakistan’s 1973 constitution into abeyance and suspended all fundamental rights, including: Article 9 (security of person), 10 (safeguard as to arrest and detention), 15 (freedom of movement, etc.), 16 (freedom of assembly), 17 (freedom of association), 19 (freedom of speech, etc.) and 25 (equality of citizens) shall remain suspended.

According to Think Progress: The suspension of fundamental rights is already producing convictions, as four men accused of treason have been jailed for making anti-government speeches. Pakistan’s private TV stations were all blacked-out and sale of satellite dishes was halted. Hundreds of lawyers and activists around the country were detained or put under house arrest, and the most recent estimate is that around 2,500 people are in jail.

What is most alarming about this is that Bush was nearly silent about the constitutional suspension while publicly declaring Musharraf to reinstate the constitution (kind of like the we don't torture statements while fostering waterboarding). Bush supposedly phoned Musharraf: President Bush telephoned General Musharraf for the first time since the crisis began and bluntly told him that he had to return Pakistan to civilian rule, hold elections and step down as chief of the military, as he had promised. Mr. Bush called him from the Oval Office at 11:30 a.m. Washington time, and spoke for about 20 minutes, according to the White House.

But...(is there always a but with these fuckers) reputable Pakistani journalist, Hamid Mir reported on Geo TV — Pakistan’s largest private cable news station — that the U.S. gave the green-light for Musharraf to go ahead and call the emergency. According to Mir, the U.S. supported Musharraf because it regarded the ousted “Chief Justice as a nuisance and ‘a Taliban sympathizer.’” That may explain why President Bush’s demands are so light:

Bush administration officials are unanimous in saying that American financial support for Pakistan will continue regardless of whether General Musharraf reverses course.

Is Bush all that different than Musharraf, really? Warrantless wiretapping, suspension of habeus corpus, Guantanamo Bay, sanctioning torture, lying us into war, etc. He and Musharraf have a lot in common. Thanks to Etaraz for most of this post. The post on Think Progress was great as well as the coverage since November 3rd. Check it out.

A Figurative and Public Waterboarding of the Democrats

Glenn Greenwald has an interesting column today: What Happened to the Senate's 60 Vote requirement? That of course was my first instinct and was of course ready to voice my displeasure, but something really stinks about this. Greenwald says: Every time Congressional Democrats failed this year to stop the Bush administration (i.e., every time they "tried"), the excuse they gave was that they "need 60 votes in the Senate" in order to get anything done. Each time Senate Republicans blocked Democratic legislation, the media helpfully explained not that Republicans were obstructing via filibuster, but rather that, in the Senate, there is a general "60-vote requirement" for everything.

The Senate approved Mukasey Thursday night despite democratic criticism that he failed to take a principled stance or any stance for that matter on waterboarding. The vote went 53- 40 in favor. Six democrats voted for him and of course the moron "independent" Let's kill everyone Lieberman. All four Senate Democrats who are running for President did not vote because of campaign commitments I suppose. Thus, the democrats along with Bernie Sanders had 44 votes against Mukasey more than enough to prevent it via filibuster. So why didn't they filibuster, the way Senate Republicans have on virtually every measure this year which they wanted to defeat?

Greenwald Continues: Over and over again this year, Republican filibusters were depicted (both by Senate Democrats and the media) as nothing more the routine need to obtain the "60 votes required" for passage of any measure in the Senate. That "requirement" was said to apply to everything, including immigration ("The Senate voted 52-44 for the DREAM Act, but 60 votes were required to end debate"); Iraq withdrawal timetables ("Support is expected to top 50 votes but fall short of the 60 required"); troop leave requirements ("Webb's Iraq bill inches closer to 60 . . . . Winning at least three of those Republicans over could give the Democrats the 60 votes they need"); and warrantless surveillance ("Democratic-sponsored bill failed to reach the 60-vote majority").

It isn't true that there is a 60 vote requirement because Republicans are the only ones willing to impose and Democrats as something as grave as torture will not impose it. An attorney General who is "dead wrong on torture" and who won't even "tell the president that he cannot ignore the laws passed by Congress."

We are not a ruling party (the Democrats that is), we are not even an opposition party. Six years ago, as Greenwald says you couldn't be wrong on torture. Torture was just that - torture. Now, with the Iraq war funding bill on the horizon once again with the Democrats make the same argument. Sorry, here is a blank check because we need 60 votes to do anything.

We are either stuck with the warmongering Republicans or the vacillating spineless democrats. Who said Ralph Nader was wrong? Because I want to have that conversation again.

Saxton is out in New Jersey - 03?

Another Republican is out. Why not Ferguson in NJ - 07?

Rep. Jim Saxton, the twelve-term Republican from New Jersey's 3rd District, plans to retire after his current term, an announcement that could come as early as today, according to sources familiar with his decision.

Saxton's retirement opens up a seat he has held since 1984 and creates another vulnerable open seat for House Republicans. President Bush narrowly carried the district with 51 percent in 2004, and Democrats had been making noise about a potential challenge to Saxton in 2008.
Saxton is the 15th House Republican to decide against seeking reelection; just three Democrats have announced this will be their last term.

The swing nature of Saxton's seat places in it a highly vulnerable category along with open GOP seats in Illinois's 11th Sistrict, Arizona's 1st, Minnesota's 3rd, New Mexico's 1st and Ohio's 15th and 16th.

Also see race tracker NJ-03

Burn Baby Burn

Good Magazine presents the high financial (and economic) costs of death and dying. Bury me by a tree and enrich the earth I say.

I'm Sticking to the Union: Arlo Guthrie and Pete Seeger

Here is to the Writers Guild and democracy. Because unions are the most pure form of democracy Americans know.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Americans to Congress: Get Tougher on Iraq


Greg Sargent at TPM Election Central tips us off to a key passage in a new Pew poll, titled "More Favor Dems Getting Tougher on Iraq" More at the Huffington Post:

The proportion of Americans saying Democratic leaders in Congress are not going far enough in challenging President Bush's Iraq policies has been increasing fairly steadily since March, when 40% expressed this view; the October figure is 47%. The remainder of the public is divided over whether Democratic leaders have gone too far (21%) or have taken an approach that is about right (23%).


The poll notes that while just 31% approve of Congress' job performance (down 10 points since February), "most Americans (54%) say that they are happy that the Democrats won control of Congress in last year's elections. That represents a modest decline since last November, but positive views of the Democratic congressional victory have remained stable since March. At least in part, this reflects the fact that Republican leaders are blamed about as often as Democratic leaders for Congress' lack of productivity."

Barney Frank and Political Courage

"Somehow I got to be a bigshot, but I feel an obligation to those going to work in a gas station who fear being fired for finding out who they may love."

The clip gets good around the third minute

your friendly neighborhood library

neglecting your neighborhood library? take another look. it's still the best deal around for free stuff. i've always loved the library. who hasn't? that little card gives access to so much...

the hoboken library is right across the park, less than 2 blocks from our home. it's housed in a lovely old building with museum-like art. when i didn't have internet access, the library helped me out with its free computer lab.

other perks for free membership:

**entertainment... movies, CDs and DVDs. while i have to wait on a list for the more popular movies, at least i'm not paying $$ to blockbuster!

**interlibrary loans... if hoboken doesn't stock my latest graphic novel picks, i search online from a database of many county libraries. after a quick online request and short wait, my book arrives!

**according to ideal bite, library use saves paper and oil: "More than 3.1 billion books are purchased in the United States each year, and most are made from nonrecycled paper and petroleum-based inks." and think of all the plastic saved from sharing DVDs and CDs!

**programming... our library has monthly special events, author appearances, and art exhibits (old photos of hoboken, local art, and more).

find your public library here and enjoy the perks...

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

The Office and the Writers Strike

Obama Picking Up Steam?

From Politicalwire:

Sen. Hillary Clinton’s lead in the New Hampshire presidential primary race has fallen to its lowest level of the season, according to a new Rasmussen Reports survey. Hillary Clinton leads with 34% support, followed by Sen. Barack Obama at 24%, John Edwards at 15%, and Gov. Bill Richardson at 8%.The poll shows Clinton dropping six points since her poor performance in the last Democratic debate.

New Iowa Poll shows the same result:

Clinton 28% (-2)
Obama 25% (+3)
Edwards 21% (-2)
Richardson 9% (-1)
Biden 3
Dodd 1
Not sure 12

Also check this out where former President Bill Clinton is claiming the treatment of Hillary at the debate and afterward is like the swiftboat of John Kerry and Max Cleland. Obama seems to be hitting a stride and I, like a friend said to me recently, "I am not ready to right off Obama." I am threw with the Clintons, however and this chicken shit politics that seeks only to see what the polls say and not (protest a nominee that seems to be sanctioning torture) do the right thing is over. The democratic base does not want this, never mind the rest of the country.

Yes, the Clintons are better than we have right now, but they aren't even close to what we can have. And I am not talking about the likes of Ron Paul, who for a Republican is nice to see, but he is still one of the Rethuglicans who would seek to have the free market decide everything, i.e. "privatize" which is exactly where we are now. No thanks. Bring on Obama or Edwards (Kucinich is obviously a dream) and I will for once be excited about a nominee.

A Second Chance for Ex-Offenders: New York Times Editorial

A Second Chance for Ex-Offenders

Published: November 7, 2007

If past patterns hold true, more than half of the 650,000 prisoners released this year will be back behind bars by 2010. With the prison population exploding and the price of incarceration now topping $60 billion a year, states are rightly focusing on ways to reduce recidivism. Congress can give these efforts a boost by passing the Second Chance Act, which would provide crucial help to people who have paid their debts to society.

Newly released inmates are often driven right back to prison by difficulty in obtaining jobs, education and housing, as well as by the social stigma that comes from having been in prison. In addition, many of these people suffer from mental illnesses but have no access to treatment. Some states have begun offering assistance in these areas, but much more needs to be done.
The Second Chance Act would add to what the country knows about the re-entry process by establishing a federal re-entry task force, along with a national resource center to collect and disseminate information about proven programs.

The bill would broaden access to high-quality drug treatment, which is in scarce supply almost everywhere. It would also encourage states to work harder at reuniting families, which are often torn apart when a parent goes to prison.

The country worsened the recidivism crisis when it killed off many of the in-prison education programs that have a strong track record of helping released inmates live crime-free lives. The bill would begin to reverse that destructive trend by providing grants to improve academic and vocational education behind bars.

The programs necessary to help former prisoners find a place in society do not exist in most communities. The Second Chance Act would help to create those programs by providing money, training, technical assistance — and a Congressional stamp of approval.