Monday, March 31, 2008

Disciplinary Report Released for New Jersey Attorneys

The Office of Attorney Ethics has released its annual disciplinary report. Here are some of the highlights of the report. Go to the judiciary page of New Jersey for full report. It gives the number of attorneys who practice her, by county and the number of attorneys who have been disciplined as well as been disbarred:

1. Despite losing some 6,000 attorneys from its rolls as a result of administrative disbarments, the December 2007 attorney population in the State stood at 82,893. This represents more than a 2.4% increase from 2006. This total provides one attorney for every 106 people our State with a population of 8,685, 920.

2. Almost 57% of the lawyers admitted to practice in New Jersey were admitted since 1991. A full 72% of New Jersey attorneys have been admitted since 1986. By contrast, only 483 lawyers remain who were admitted to practice before the year 1951.

3. Approximately 30% of New Jersey lawyers range in age from 40 to 49. A further 27% are between 30 and 39.

4. About 68% of New Jersey attorneys are also admitted to practice in another State, mostly in New York and Pennsylvania.

5. Just over 41% of New Jersey lawyers are engaged in the private practice of law, a total of just over 34,000. One third of these are in solo-practices.

6. The largest number of private practitioners is in Essex County (5240), followed by Camden (3818), Bergen (3793) and Morris 3151). Salem County has the fewest practitioners with only 57.

7. There were 1,722,166 attorneys licensed to practice law in the United States on July 1st of 2007. New Jersey ranked 7th in the country and had 4.62% of the national attorney population at that time.

8. A total of 1553 ethics grievances were filed against the lawyers in active practice in the State in 2007. Approximately 2.38% of the attorneys in active practice were subject to the filing of a grievance. This represented an increase of 8.7% in the number of filings.

9. Final discipline in 2007 included 31 disbarments, 33 suspension from practice, 13 censures, 25 reprimands and 19 admonitions.

10. As in prior years, discipline was imposed in most instances for knowing misappropriation of client funds, followed by a gross pattern of neglect, other money issues and criminal offenses.

Gore's New 300 Million Dollar, Three Year Climate Change Inititative

Go to the website.

The Entire North Carolina Delegation Set to Endorse Obama

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota is expected to endorse Sen. Obama Monday, according to a Democrat familiar with her plans. Meanwhile, North Carolina's seven Democratic House members are poised to endorse Sen. Obama as a group -- just one has so far -- before that state's May 6 primary, several Democrats say.

This also comes as news of Hillary Clinton's campaign is strapped for cash and not paying her vendors. Also news from Gallup yesterday that Barack Obama for the first time has opened up a ten point lead over Mrs. Clinton. Is this the perfect storm coalescing behind Mr. Obama? I still think there is no way she drops out before Pennsylvania or Indiana and North Carolina primary. I just don't see it. Also the Obama camp is now officially declaring victory in Texas because of the delegates he won in the cacuses. The delegate conventions were held this weekend.

Friday, March 28, 2008

Bill Maher Puts it into Perspective

When Barack Obama didn't hear Reverend Wright say those awful things about America, he still should have rushed the stage, smite Reverend Wright with the cross, and left the church. If there's anything the right wing can agree on, it's that. And that gays are going hell, right after they suck them off in the airport bathroom.

But it raises an obvious question, one that I haven't heard asked, which is strange because it's so obvious: If you leave a church when the head of the church says bad things about America, what do you do when your church hierarchy is caught up in a systematic and decades-long sex abuse scandal? And did I mention the people being sexually abused were children? Hundreds of them?

How about when the head of that church, or Pope, associated with and promoted members of the clergy who not only facilitated the sexual abuse and rape of hundreds and hundreds of children, but engaged in a decades-long cover-up of those crimes?

Reverend Wright associated with Farrakhan. The Pope works with Cardinal Law. Which is worse? Isn't it the man who shuffled "priests" like Shanley and Geoghan and many others from parish to parish with the full knowledge of their crimes, and then claimed he had no idea?
Yes, by Sean Hannity's own logic, Catholics like him, en masse, would be expected to abandon their church. Which shouldn't be a problem, because they worship Reagan anyway.

The Tide is Turning

Gallup Poll 50 - 42 Obama

Bob Casey endorsement

Patrick Leahy calls for Clinton to step aside

Watch this stunning and beautiful video:

Hillary Clinton and Bosnia: You Decide

Here is a video from talking points memo regarding the Bosnia misstatements on the part of Hillary Clinton. The more I see it I don't think they were misstatements, but I think she lied, pure and simple. I don't know why though. How and why did she think she could get away with this? It doesn't make sense. It also doesn't make sense that she would forget though. What do you think?

Thursday, March 27, 2008

ACLU Seeking Sanction Against New Jersey DOC For Witness Tampering and Retaliation

The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of New Jersey filed court papers today requesting that the New Jersey Superior Court impose sanctions against the New Jersey Department of Corrections (DOC) for witness tampering, official misconduct and violations of court rules.

The ACLU's motion for sanctions charges that the DOC obtained false and misleading statements from women prisoners about conditions in the prison in an attempt to defend the prison against claims of inhumane treatment. A female prisoner who exposed the DOC's misconduct reports being beaten as a result.

The ACLU asserts that James Drumm, Assistant Administrator of the New Jersey State Prison, offered female prisoners reductions in their disciplinary sentences in exchange for making false statements describing women's prison conditions in the New Jersey State Prison (NJSP) - a men's supermax prison - as better than they were.

This is the latest chapter in Jones v Hayman, an ACLU class action lawsuit against the DOC challenging the improper transfer of a group of women to the men's prison and subjecting them to inhumane and virtual lock-down conditions.

Some of the prisoners allege that that if they wrote a letter saying good things about the prison, then their time in segregation would be cut. Unbelievable. A prisoner (Thomas) alleges the day she spoke with ACLU attorneys she received a brutal beating that seemed retaliatory. During the beating, the Guard said: "You have a big mouth" and called her a "nigger with no home training." Thomas also alleges that, following the beating, Drumm told her, "You're causing problems in my institution," and that she should "stop causing trouble."

Read the rest of the article here as the ACLU also charges them with witness tampering and retaliation, if that is not obvious from the facts.

This is not surprising seeing how the guards and many of the folks inside prisons treat people. Because, these guards forget that they are actually people. We often visit prisoners and the guards are arrogant and act like they are doing us a favor just to get to talk to our clients. One guard yesterday held up a visit of a social worker to her client for forty-five minutes because no one told him she was coming. So, he refused her entrance. Luckily, he was dealing with the wrong person. She sat in a chair and told him, "I am not leaving until I see my client." Eventually, requesting to see his supervisor, gaining entry. This "person's" immigration status and time in America hung in the balance, not that he would give a damn.

I say go ACLU. Expose these thugs for what they are worth.

CBC on the rising violence in Iraq: A Three Day Deadline

See a real news report from the Canadian Broadcasting Network. These are not terrorists or extremists, they are Iraqis. It is sad when you can get better news on your own country's foreign policy outside these borders.

Olbermann Gives Walmart Worst Person in the World

Walmart sued a handicapped woman (and won) for money she received in a lawsuit that she received after obtaining brain damage. Olbermann slices and dices them.

Legal Services of New Jersey in Severe Crisis

Word is coming quickly that Legal Services may be in jeopardy of losing nearly half of its IOLTA funding. Half. IOLTA is funded through lawyer trust accounts and is a complicated formula of which is ebbs and flows with the housing market that is tumbling and the projections are that Legal Services could face severe cuts soon.

This is bad news for poor people in New Jersey, while not a perfect organization without Legal Services hundreds of thousands of poor people would not get the civil legal help they deserve. From evictions, consumer law, family and more expansive law such as voting rights, environmental justice, family representation, New Jersey residents will be at a severe disadvantage if the recession continues to spiral.

Here is a hoping a democrat gets elected, that we end this disastrous war that costs Americans $12 Billion dollars a month, that we stop allowing corporations to leech from us. The latest: “A sweeping five-month investigation into the collapse of one of the nation’s largest subprime lenders points a finger at a possible new culprit in the mortgage mess: the accountants.” New Century Financial, whose failure came at the start of the credit crisis, “engaged in ’significant improper and imprudent practices’ that were condoned and enabled by auditors at the accounting firm KPMG.”

We need justice now for the people, not for the corporations.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Iraq Continues to Fall into Violence

Heavy fighting continued for a second day Wednesday in two of Iraq’s largest cities, as Iraqi ground forces and helicopters mounted a huge operation to break the grip of the Shiite militias controlling Basra, and Iraqi forces clashed with militias in Baghdad. The fighting threatened to destabilize a long-term truce that had helped reduce the level of violence in the five-year-old Iraq war.

The Prime Minister has ordered the insurgents to disarm within 72 hours. A spokesman for the Iraqi military said 40 people had been killed and 200 wounded in the two days of fighting in the southern city of Basra, according to The Associated Press.

Muqtadr Al Sadr is warning of a release of the Mehdi Army fighters and word is he has already done so. This is bad news for Iraq. The cease fire has been the main reason for the curb in violence. This clearly shows why we must withdraw our troops as soon as possible. This is a civil war and military operations will do nothing in the long-term to curb the violence. It must be done by the political players in Iraq. This is bad news.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Clinton Camp Pushing Wright Story

The Clinton camp began making an issue of the Jeremiah Wright situation today, not surprisingly. As it started to fade from our memory, the Clintons retrieve it. She said she would not have sat in the pews while Rev. Wright said such things. And then here is an interview given in Ireland of a finance committee chair of the Clintons stating their true opinions.

This is well worth the listen. I think this story is beginning to turn. People are starting to say, ok enough with this story. We have all heard friends say things we disagree with...

Iraq War Journal: Cease Fire May Be Unraveling

Iraqi security forces battled the Mehdi Army militia in Basra on Tuesday in a drive to win control of the southern oil city, but violence appeared to be spreading to Baghdad and other cities.

Police and health workers said at least 12 people were killed in the fighting in districts of central and northern Basra where Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr's Mehdi Army has a strong presence.

Last month Muqtadr Al Sadr re-issued a cease fire for the Mehdi Army, extending a six month cease in fighting that began in August of 07. This has been the primary reason for the reduction in violence in Iraq. There is word and evidence it is unraveling.

"There are clashes in the streets. Bullets are coming from everywhere and we can hear the sound of rocket explosions. This has been going on since dawn," resident Jamil told Reuters by telephone as he cowered in his home.

Sadr's main complaint is U.S. and Iraqi forces exploited the cease fire to carry out indiscriminate arrests. In a statement read out by a senior aide on Tuesday, Sadr called on Iraqis to stage sit-ins all over Iraq and said he would declare a "civil revolt" if attacks by U.S. and Iraqi security forces continued. He also threatened a "third step", but said it was to early to announce what it would be.

From Reuters:

Sadr's followers launched what they called "a civil disobedience campaign" in Baghdad on Monday, forcing store-owners to close in several districts.

Pro-Sadr students forced Mustansiriya University in Baghdad to close on Tuesday. Members of Sadr's movement said the protest would spread to other towns and cities from Wednesday.
Police sources said Sadr supporters seized control of five districts in the southern town of Kut on Tuesday after clashes between gunmen and police.

In Baghdad, U.S. and Iraqi forces sealed off the Mehdi Army stronghold of Sadr City, a sprawling slum of 2 million people, after the militia ordered police and soldiers off the streets.
Police said fighting erupted in several Sadr City neighbourhoods between Mehdi Army fighters and the Badr Organisation, the armed wing of a rival Shi'ite faction.

Baghdad's Green Zone, the government and diplomatic compound, was hit by several salvoes of rockets during the day. U.S. military spokesman Lieutenant-Colonel Steven Stover said they had been fired from Sadr City.

Outsourcing for the 21st Century : Child Care

Bush's War

As we hit 4,000 soldiers dead in Iraq this movie reminds us of why this war should have never been waged. Brilliant.

Monday, March 24, 2008


ok, since yesterday was easter (aka my reason to eat more than normal amounts of chocolate), here's an ode to valomilk, (see russell sifers above, owner of the small family operation in kansas) my new favorite old time candy...

since my post on schoko bananen, i've gorged on those treats, had enough and then longed to find a new obsession. and i officially end my allegiance to cadbury cream eggs... bought a bunch on sale... each one was a disappointment. the product is obviously smaller year after year but that once original sweet, creamy egg center that i craved, is no more. the taste is overly chemical, it's not creamy enough, but rather congealed or half cream/half corn syrupy. gross! same goes for those "used-to-be-yummy" russell stover raspberry/truffle/strawberry/coconut flavored eggs.

et voila... valomilk is my new candy of choice, with all natural ingredients and not produced by some big conglomerate or an indie company that sold out to the big guy... the valomilk website is kitschy and old school, heavy with nostalgic marketing & family history... but what's with the name???

from the website: The name VALOMILK DIP came from: V for real vanilla, ALO from marshmallow, MILK to describe it as creamy and DIP because it was hand dipped (hand made). The name for “The Original Flowing Center Candy Cup” was later shortened to VALOMILK.

4,000 U.S. Soldiers Killed: A Grim Milestone

Four thousand soldiers have been killed after four U.S. soldiers were killed by a bomb blast in southern Baghdad late Sunday, raising the death toll for American forces since start of the war to 4,000, according to the Pentagon. See Michael Ware discuss this grm milestone. It will be well worth your time. He has been a hero in a sea of capitulators.

Additionally, across Iraq yesterday 57 lives were taken in suicide bombings and other attacks; insurgents pounded the Green Zone as well.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

A Slap on the Wrist? Not Even.

Who is responsible for the recession that the people of America find themselves in? One could say we all are, but I would venture to say some way more than others? Bear Sterns is only the latest symptom of a sickness: getting one over on someone else, and then, when it backfires, crying out for governmental help. The multinational titans who turn red at the word "intervention," were the first to call out for help from Dubai, the Fed, and anywhere else. And the Bush administration, always a lover of the business elite, obligingly baild them out in the name of saving 'our collective shirts.' But what is to prevent the cycle from repeating itself? What will stop Multimillionaire executives from playing Russiona Roulette again with the people of America?Here is a little of what Friday's New York Times had to say:

How can one feel sorry for James Cayne? The potential losses of the chairman and former chief executive of Bear Stearns must rank up there with the biggest in modern history. The value of his stake in Bear Stearns collapsed from about $1 billion a year ago to as little as $14 million at the price JPMorgan Chase offered for the teetering bank on Sunday.

Still, Mr. Cayne was paid some $40 million in cash between 2004 and 2006, the last year on record, as well as stocks and options. In the past few years, he has sold shares worth millions more. There should be financial accountability for the man who led Bear Stearns as it gorged on dubious subprime securities to boost its profits and share price, helping to set up one of the biggest financial collapses since the savings-and-loan crisis in the 1980s. Some might argue that he should have lost it all.

But that’s not how it works. The ongoing bailout of the financial system by the Federal Reserve underscores the extent to which financial barons socialize the costs of private bets gone bad.

Compared to the cold shoulder given to struggling homeowners, the cash and attention lavished by the government on the nation’s financial titans provides telling insight into the priorities of the Bush administration.

Indeed, the pain that is being inflicted on financial-industry executives as a result of their own actions and decisions is not proving much of an encouragement. Rather, the knuckle-rapping seems only to encourage bankers to make up for any losses they may suffer by finding another way to navigate their companies, the financial system and the economy into the next maelstrom — from Internet stocks to what the industry calls zero-down, negative amortization, no-doc, adjustable-rate mortgages.

The costs of such a lopsided system of incentives are by now clear. Better regulation of mortgage markets would help avoid repeating current excesses. But more fundamental correctives are needed to curb financiers’ appetite for walking a tightrope. Some economists have suggested making their remuneration contingent on the performance of their investments over several years — releasing their compensation gradually.

That’s an idea worth studying. Certainly, trying to put specific limits on bankers’ salaries is a nonstarter. But until bankers face a real risk of losing their shirts, they will continue blithely ratcheting up the risks to collect the rewards while letting the rest of us carry the bag when their punts go bad.

Scummy Bill Clinton Does it Again

Did not Bill just say it was a "mugging" by the media on his race comments. He is an idiot and these comments are not by accident. He basically calls McCain and Hillary Patriots and leaves us to wonder just what Barack is...scummy, scummy, scummy...

Casey Knowles Approves this Message

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Will the Circus Be Hoboken?

Pyethwacket corresponds once again:

Dearest Hobogomil,

Warm greetings from fair Trenton - you must visit again soon! The fine-particulate count and railyard lowings are quite tolerable this time of year...

I see your little hamlet on the Hudson there is - excuse the pun - creeping its politicians into the county news yet once more. Incumbent , and soon to be recumbent, Maurice Fitzgibbons comes up (inherently) lame in the Great Freeholder Race, shuffling off his mortal coil and succumbing to the slings and arrows of outrageous...Farina, who has pulled himself up on all six legs once again for another embarassing run at public office well above his skill level. That's Jimmy 'Knuckles' Farina, I mean, your City Clerk, school-board member - and reigning swelterweight champion since his huffing and puffing TKO of fellow roly-poly pork baron, Dave Roberts, in last spring's city-hall slugfest. The Ali/Frazier-esque "Wrath by the PATH", I believe you called it.

Well now, here's what's been circulating about this elsewhere. It seems Farina is throwing his hat in the freeholder ring just as Fitzgibbons is throwing in his towel. Well, sort of, anyway - on both counts. Fitzgibbons, attempting to think outside the pine-box, is trying to create a viable and vicarious 'protege' candidate out of Michael Passante, a young Harvard lawyer relocated to the Hoboken flood plain and aspiring perhaps, in an urban-fringy way, to be the white Cory Booker. (Fittingly enough, as that's whom he lawyers for.) Farina, on the other hand, may already seem a viable candidate (to anyone over 60 given to excessive drink), but his election-law and campaign-finance violations from last spring's school-board races are probably not nearly as swept under the carpet as he thinks.

Farina claims in the papers that the State's Election Law Enforcement Commission (ELEC) hasn't notified him of any violations from his school-board run - hopefully leaving some readers to think there really aren't any. But he's apologizing for some anyway, very curiously claiming this somehow rectifies the situation. But what situation? Oh, that's right - the one created a month ago when it hit the local media that Farina and his running mates had an offical complaint filed against them with ELEC for filing absolutely nothing about their campaign-finance activities - which Farina also spins in the papers, pinning it on his treasurer underling who 'failed to file the proper paperwork for the school board run'. As if a good-faith attempt at proper filing had been made, but an unfortunate error intervened? As if Farina himself did nothing wrong? Sadly for his 'integrity' bid in the freeholder race, ELEC holds the candidate Farina, the campaign chair Romano, and the treasurer equally and individually responsible for election-finance violations. Farina isn't off any hook: he's just as responsible for the legal breach as his treasurer is - and certainly even more so. In his other job as Hoboken municipal clerk, Farina is responsible for the proper conduct of all municipal elections! Including his own school-board election last year, the one in question. ELEC is hardly so stupid as to believe a word of this weasely spin.

Odds bodkins, Hobogomil! How can you hold your head up? This freeholder race is truly epitomizing the political circus Hoboken has long been. Look at the parade of clowns! Just how many can climb out of that subway car? First there's the politically decrepit Fitzgibbons for freeholder pairing with mayor-hopeful Peter Cammarano, the election lawyer(!) who's under investigation by the State for his own serious election-law and campaign-finance violations (shades of Farina!) - but they're both dead in the water. Then there's Farina patching it up with Mayor Roberts as another axis of weevil. Michael Russo, 'Son of Scam' as he's known in Hoboken, really wants badly to follow right in daddy's beshackled footsteps - but he needs a freeholder. Frank 'Pupie' Raia's name is whispered - well, muttered under one's breath actually - but he recently got crushed in a council Russo. Maybe the callow Passante mentioned above gets passing grades? No - what could be more discrediting, belittling or greater evidence of personal failure than being Fitzgibbons' protege? Most importantly, Russo's mom can't stand Fitz, so forget Passante right off. How 'bout...the redoubtable Michael Schaeffer, the campaign lawyer who's name is being mentioned prominently for freeholder? Nope - feel free to doubt him again: he too is under investigation by the State for serious election-law and finance violations; he was one of Cammarano's treasurers for that slew of alleged wrong-doings. There must be someone...

Whatever will you do for a freeholder, Hobogomil? It's getting late - very, very late - only a couple weeks til the filing deadline. "Freeholder Ines Garcia-Keim" to be financed by "Mayor Beth Mason"? Nah - been there, dunned that. (And came up short.) Union organizer and Russo-mom sidekick, Vince Addeo maybe? Certainly some talk about him. Hmmmmmm. We may have something there...yeah - lots of minor baggage. Something about spousal abuse a while back; that stand-in role for the convicted political boss Anthony Russo; Fitzgibbons subordinate on the Democratic Municipal Committee...not lookin' too good on second thought. 'Vince Adieu' is more like it.

But then...then you got a guy, a born-and-raised guy, a union kinda guy; yeah, maybe he's got a rough side, but then he's a really friendly kinda guy, too, if ya know what I mean - one who really knows how to talk to people, ya know, where they live; everyone knows he's a good soldier, an order-taker for the political boss...when you think about he really is Hoboken, ya know. (How youse say in Hoboken? He's really down there 'on the waterfront'. A real Hoboken guy.) So, yeah, that's yer ticket!! Addeo/Russo. Perfect. Perfectly acceptable to Russo, who's perfectly acceptable to the real boss here, Union City Mayor Brian Stack. You come full circle again to a new regime of Russo-fronted, outsider control of Hoboken. Absolutely perfect.

Very glad you got that taken care of, Hobogomil. I'll see you in the funny pages...


Friday, March 21, 2008

Barack Obama Speaks About Iraq and the Economy

Excerpts from Obama's speech on Iraq and John McCain

The full speech from yesterday in West Virginia regarding Iraq and the Economy. In many ways this speech (while not as historic) is as important. A beautiful speech. Here is the text of you are interested:

Just so you don't think Barack Obama is Monday morning quarterbacking on these "war supporters" check out Nancy Pelosi (who is a certain closeted Obama supporter) and her speech in 2002 regarding the Iraq war and the economy. This is judgment:

With Barack at the top, Ms. Pelosi as Speaker and wink...wink...Chris Dodd as the Senate Majority leader, we can take our conuntry back. It is interesting, usually the more you get to know someone in elected office, the less you like of them. Not so about Obama. I liked Kucinich, then I liked Edwards and then I came around to Obama. He is a "once in a lifetime candidate."

Bill Richardson Endorses Obama

New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, the nation's only Hispanic governor, is endorsing Sen. Barack Obama for president, calling him a "once-in-a- lifetime leader" who can unite the nation and restore America's international leadership.

Richardson, who dropped out of the Democratic race in January, is to appear with Obama on Friday at a campaign event in Portland, Ore. Take that Clinton Team!!
Over at Daily Kos and the WSJ they talk about what the endorsement means:
It is an important endorsement on at least three fronts. Mr. Richardson is an influential superdelegate for the party, whose declaration of support could draw the backing of other superdelegates needed to secure the nomination, since neither candidate seems likely to win it through delegates earned in the primaries and caucuses. He was a prominent second-tier candidate before the race narrowed to the two frontrunners, and as such has been courted by both campaigns since he dropped out. And he is the country's only Hispanic governor, and could thus help Sen. Obama with a key bloc of voters that has mostly leaned toward Sen. Clinton. Mr. Richardson, who praised Mr. Obama's national-security credentials to the AP, also brings the foreign-policy credibility that came with being ambassador to the United Nations, energy secretary, and global trouble-shooter for the presidential administration of Sen. Clinton's husband.

Obama Passport Breached

The State Department says it is trying to determine whether three contract workers had a political motive for looking at Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's passport file.

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said that for now it appears that nothing other than "imprudent curiosity" was involved in three separate breaches of the Illinois senator's personal information, "but we are taking steps to reassure ourselves that that is, in fact, the case."

From the Obama Campaign:

This is an outrageous breach of security and privacy, even from an administration that has shown little regard for either over the last eight years," Burton said. "Our government's duty is to protect the private information of the American people, not use it for political purposes."

This story is too new to be discussing what happened and how, but this juicy tidbit was just discovered. On March 12 Hillary questioned Barack's travel:

"As voters evaluate you as a potential Commander-in-Chief, do you think it’s legitimate for people to be concerned that you have traveled to only one NATO country, on a brief stopover trip in 2005, and have never traveled to Latin America?"
Now the question is, how did Hillary Clinton campaign know about the countries that Obama visited?

In the aftermath of the Obama passport breach something stinks in the Clinton camp. What is more on the Huffington Post - one of the people in charge during the Obama breach was a former Ambassador to Paraguay under Clinton. "I don't know, sure sounds fishy." McCain and Clinton also breached, but it seems at this point to a lesser extent.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Five Years in Iraq: By the Numbers

The Iraq war is five years old, far longer than we spent in World War II. Below I found on the Huffington Post and is numbers released by Harry Reid's office. I remember sitting in my living room watching the war begin. I remember watching the media cheerlead us all the way in, the Republicans and yes, the democrats. Lest we forget this incompetence:

The Cost to Our Forces in Iraq

3,990: American troops who have died in Iraq since the start of the war. [, 3/17/08]
29,395: Number of U.S. service members that have been wounded in hostile action since the start of U.S. military operations in Iraq. [AP, 3/11/08]

60,000: Number of troops that have been subjected to controversial stop-loss measures--meaning those who have completed service commitments but are forbidden to leave the military until their units return from war. [US News and World Report, 2/25/08]

5: Number of times the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment has been sent to Iraq. They are the first Marine Corps unit to be sent to Iraq for a fifth time. [San Francisco Chronicle, 2/27/08]

2,100: Number of troops who tried to commit suicide or injure themselves increased from 350 in 2002 to 2,100 last year. [US News and World Report, 2/25/08]

11.9: Percent of noncommissioned Army officers who reported mental health problems during their first Iraq tour [Los Angeles Times, 3/7/08]

27.2: Percent of noncommissioned Army officers who reported mental health problems during their third or fourth Iraq tour [Los Angeles Times, 3/7/08]

The Cost to Our Military Readiness
88: Percent of current and former U.S. military officers surveyed in a recent independent study who believe that the demands of the war in Iraq have "stretched the U.S. military dangerously thin" [Foreign Policy/Center for New American Security, 2/19/08]

94: Percent of Army recruits who had high school diplomas in Fiscal Year 2003 [Larry Korb, The Guardian, 10/12/07]

79: Percent of Army recruits who had high school diplomas in Fiscal Year 2007 [Larry Korb, The Guardian, 10/12/07]

4,644: Number of new Army recruits who were granted moral waivers in Fiscal Year 2003. [Houston Chronicle, 10/14/07]

12,057: Number of new Army recruits who were granted moral waivers in Fiscal Year 2007. [Houston Chronicle, 10/14/07]

67: Percent of captains the Army managed to retain this year, short of its goal of 80 percent, and in spite of cash bonus incentives of up to $35,000 [Armed Services Committee Hearing, 2/26/08]

The Cost to Our National Security
1,188: Number of global terrorist incidents from January - September 11th, 2001. [American Security Project, "Are We Winning?," September 2007]

5,188: Number of global terrorist incidents in from January- September 11th, 2006. [American Security Project, "Are We Winning?," September 2007]

30: Percent increase in violence in Afghanistan from 2006 to 2007. [Reuters, 10/15/07]
21: Number of suicide bombings in Afghanistan in 2001. [Center for American Progress, "The Forgotten Front," 11/07]
139: Number of suicide bombings in Afghanistan in 2006, with an additional increase of 69 percent as of November 2007. [Center for American Progress, "The Forgotten Front," 11/07]

30: Percent of Afghanistan controlled by the Afghan Government according to DNI Mike McConnell. [Associated Press, 2/27/08]

2,380: Days since September 11th, 2001 that Osama Bin Laden has been at-large.
The Cost of Funding the War in Iraq

$50-60 Billion: Bush Administration's pre-war estimates of the cost of the war. [New York Times, 12/31/02]

$12 Billion: Direct cost per month of the Iraq War. [Washington Post, Bilmes and Stiglitz Op-Ed, 3/9/08]

$526 Billion: Amount of money already appropriated by Congress for the War in Iraq. [CRS, 2/22/08]

$3 Trillion: Total estimated cost of the Iraq War. [Washington Post, Bilmes and Stiglitz Op-Ed, 3/9/08]

$5 Trillion - $7 Trillion: Total cost of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan accounting for continued military operations, growing debt and interest payments and continuing health care and counseling costs for veterans. [McClatchy, 2/27/08]

160: Percent that the cost of the Iraq War has increased from 2004 to 2008. [CRS Report, 2/22/08]

The Cost to Iraqis and Journalists
8,000: Number of Iraqi military and police killed since June 2003. [Brookings Institute, Iraq Index, March 13, 2008]

82,000-89,000: Estimate of Iraqi civilians casualties from violence since the beginning of the Iraq War. [Iraq Body Count]

4.5 Million: Number of Iraqi refugees both inside and outside the country. [Washington Post, 3/17/08]

61: Percent of Iraqis that believe the U.S. military presence makes the security situation in Iraq worse. [Agence France-Presse, 3/17/08]

127: Number of journalists killed in Iraq since March 2003. [Committee to Protect Journalists]
Economic Costs of War in Iraq

$33.51: Cost of a barrel of oil in March 2003. [Energy Information Administration]

$105.68: Cost of a barrel of oil on March 17, 2008. [NYMEX]

U.S. Troops and Contractors in Iraq
132,000: Number of U.S. troops in Iraq in January 2007, before President Bush's escalation. [Brookings Institution, Iraq Index, 3/13/08]

155,000: Number of U.S. troops currently in Iraq. [Brookings Institution, Iraq Index, 3/13/08]

140,000: Number of U.S. troops projected to be in Iraq in July 2008. [Associated Press, 2/26/08]

35,000: Number of private security contractors operating in Iraq. [Human Rights First, Private Security Contractors at War]

180,000: Number of private contractors operating in Iraq. [Human Rights First, Private Security Contractors at War]

Progress Towards Political Reconciliation Made By Iraqis
3: Number out of 18 Bush Administration Benchmarks Met by Iraqi Government As of January 24, 2008. [Center for American Progress, 1/24/08]

18: Number of provinces President Bush said would be secured by Iraqis as of November 2007. [President Bush Speech, 1/10/07]

8: Number of provinces actually secured by Iraqis as of January 2008. [NPR, 1/7/08]

Bush-Republican Intransigence on Staying the Course in Iraq
8: Number of times a majority of the Senate has voted to change course in Iraq.

7: Number of times Bush Republicans in Congress have blocked changing course in Iraq.

1: Number of vetoes issued by the White House over changing course in Iraq.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

US Race Relations

The future President on race in the US.

Check out the text here.

Wall Street Socialsim

The White House has refused to send any help to so called Main Street, but when it comes to Wall Street there is a different standard.

E.J. Dionne in the Washington Post:

Never do I want to hear again from my conservative friends about how brilliant capitalists are, how much they deserve their seven-figure salaries and how government should keep its hands off the private economy.

The Wall Street titans have turned into a bunch of welfare clients. They are desperate to be bailed out by government from their own incompetence, and from the deregulatory regime for which they lobbied so hard. They have lost "confidence" in each other, you see, because none of these oh-so-wise captains of the universe have any idea what kinds of devalued securities sit in one another's portfolios.

So they have stopped investing. The biggest, most respected investment firms threaten to come crashing down. You can't have that. It's just fine to make it harder for the average Joe to file for bankruptcy, as did that wretched bankruptcy bill passed by Congress in 2005 at the request of the credit card industry. But the big guys are "too big to fail," because they could bring us all down with them.

Monday, March 17, 2008

new jersey family court loses a local champion and pioneer

i was lucky enough to know judge womack both during my family law clerkship and as an intern. when i first volunteered in paterson in the 90s with americorps VISTA to help foster teens age out of the state system, i often accompanied teens to court appearances in front of judge womack. he always let me speak on behalf of the teens to explain how they were thriving in our program. he listened to stories about their lives and understood the complications these teens faced in paterson without resources and families. he always considered other factors, deciding compassionately not reactively to their juvenile charges.

superior court, family division in passaic vicinage has lost a champion of justice and paterson grieves a local hero.

from today's herald news...

PATERSON — Judge Stephen Womack, the first African-American to sit on the bench in state Superior Court in Passaic County, died Saturday night at St. Joseph's Regional Medical Center.

He was 65.

Womack died of complications from a cardiac event he suffered March 7, when he was found unconscious at his courthouse desk.

Upon receiving his law degree from Harvard Law School in 1968, Womack came to his adopted hometown to practice law. He would later involve himself in the community, which took great pride in his 1994 judicial appointment. Friends and colleagues described him Sunday as a strong, committed family man who was fair but tough in his rulings.

"Although he was judge in Family Court handling primarily juvenile offenders, he was keen in getting them rehabilitated, getting them off the antisocial track and getting them on a more productive track," said Superior Court Assignment Judge Robert Passero.

Stephen Womack, the judge's son, said his father was born and raised in Roanoke, Va., but came to Paterson at the suggestion of his cousin. Once here, he worked as an attorney at the Passaic County Legal Aid Society before joining Harry Lee Cornish, who later became a Paterson Municipal Court judge, in a law practice.

In 1976, Womack left private practice to serve as an assistant public defender in Union County. He held that post until his appointment to Superior Court, where he took up his duties overseeing juvenile cases.

"He loved Juvenile Court, because he thought he had an opportunity to do some good and change people's lives," said his colleague, Judge Richard M. Freid.

"He was not a pushover, that's for sure, but he had a huge heart," Freid said outside the Womack family home on Park Avenue.

When Gov. Christine Todd Whitman appointed Womack to the bench, Al Moody, who worked with Womack on a youth rehabilitation program, said he was "elated." The Rev. Albert Rowe of First Calvary Baptist Church called it a historic event for the local black community.

"He carried that mantle with the same dignity and same integrity that Thurgood Marshall carried his," Rowe said, referring to the nation's first black Supreme Court justice.

Womack's son said that honor was something his father was proud of, but in the end, he just wanted to do his job well.

"He took pride in his work," Stephen Womack said. "He was a great father. He was a great community figure without trying to be. There was no pretentiousness to it."

Womack was also a religious man, but he never wore his faith on his sleeve, according to Freid.

Womack told Freid that when he retired from the bench, he hoped to become a minister at the New Shiloh Baptist Church in Paterson, where he was a preacher and helped raise funds for a new roof.

Locally, he joined the Paterson Task Force for Community Action and served at least two years as the chairman of Paterson's Rent Leveling Board. After his appointment to the bench, he would speak to school and civic groups about the law and social problems.

"He was always willing to help a person," Passero said.

Womack is survived by his wife, Margaret; his children, Denise, Anita, Stephanie and Stephen; and a granddaughter, Ebony.

Staff Writer John Petrick contributed to this article.

Trinity Church Strikes Back at the Main Stream Media

Trinity Church calls the attack on their church and assault on black culture.


Nearly three weeks before the 40th commemorative anniversary of the murder of the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Reverend Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.’s character is being assassinated in the public sphere because he has preached a social gospel on behalf of oppressed women, children and men in America and around the globe.“

Dr. Wright has preached 207,792 minutes on Sunday for the past 36 years at Trinity United Church of Christ. This does not include weekday worship services, revivals and preaching engagements across America and around the globe, to ecumenical and interfaith communities. It is an indictment on Dr. Wright’s ministerial legacy to present his global ministry within a 15- or 30-second sound bite,” said the Reverend Otis Moss III, pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ.

During the 36-year pastorate of Dr. Wright, Trinity United Church of Christ has grown from 87 to 8,000 members. It is the largest congregation in the United Church of Christ (UCC) denomination.

“It saddens me to see news stories reporting such a caricature of a congregation that has been such a blessing to the UCC’s Wider Church mission,” said the Rev. John H. Thomas, UCC general minister and president, in a released statement. “ … It’s time for us to say ‘No’ to these attacks and declare that we will not allow anyone to undermine or destroy the ministries of any of our congregations in order to serve their own narrow political or ideological ends.

”Trinity United Church of Christ’s ministry is inclusive and global. The following ministries have been developed under Dr. Wright’s ministerial tutelage for social justice: assisted living facilities for senior citizens, day care for children, pastoral care and counseling, health care, ministries for persons living with HIV/AIDS, hospice training, prison ministry, scholarships for thousands of students to attend historically black colleges, youth ministries, tutorial and computer programs, a church library, domestic violence programs and scholarships and fellowships for women and men attending seminary.

Moss added, “The African American Church was born out of the crucible of slavery and the legacy of prophetic African American preachers since slavery has been and continues to heal broken marginalized victims of social and economic injustices. This is an attack on the legacy of the African American Church which led and continues to lead the fight for human rights in America and around the world.

”Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. preached the Christian tenet, “love thy neighbor as thyself.” Before Dr. King was murdered on April 4, 1968, he preached, “The 11 o’clock hour is the most segregated hour in America.” Forty years later, the African American Church community continues to face bomb threats, death threats, and their ministers’ characters are assassinated because they teach and preach prophetic social concerns for social justice. Sunday is still the most segregated hour in America.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

"Little Pieces of America'

Barack Obama talks about the divisions in America and the unity we need going forward.

Shame, Blame and the Great Game (a la Hoboken)

With all politics being proverbially local, it’s little wonder horribly overpoliticized Hoboken parallels so much of the global geopolitical turmoil. Just take a quick, bug-eyed look around you:

Civil war spilling over into the Heights – no, not the Golan Heights via Lebanon or Palestine; that’s Jersey City (JC) Heights via Hoboken and Hudson County in general. The Hudson County Democratic Organization (HCDO) led by JC Mayor Jerry Healy and the Other, Lesser Hudson County machine led by Union City Mayor Brian Stack have dragged preponderantly Democrat Hudson County through its own civil war for over a year now. The hot and pivotal battle at the moment is over who gets the JC Heights/Hoboken Freeholder seat in this June’s primary – and an inchoate truce hangs in the balance. But even though the viceroy Freeholder has yet to be named, one thing has been decided without getting a single Hoboken voter’s opinion: Hoboken will be slapped down like so much sauerbraten on Stack’s plate. The Great Game plays out above our heads.

Pre-emptive strike leads to dominoes falling throughout the region – no, that’s not the Roosevelt-idolatrous Bush 43, ‘fit as a bull moose in a china shop’, and the Ass-kiss of Evil, Donald Rumsfeld, swashbuckling their way across the Middle East. It’s current Freeholder Maurice Fitzgibbons and Hoboken Councilman Peter Cammarano crashing noisily through one political career after another. Stack will own the Freeholder: HCDO and Stack have to agree on which lifeless pawn he uses – BUT it can’t be born-idiot Maurice Fitzgibbons anymore, their erstwhile joint endorsee for Freeholder. Fitzgibbons has made several political gaffes lately, ones so excruciatingly quotidian and uninspired that the suitable words fail us until there has been time to invent them for the next column. This all along, and even more so in the immediate future, complicates the Hoboken mayoral race next year as Hoboken is three-quarters of the freeholder’s polity and 100% of the mayor’s. Potential Freeholder/Hoboken Mayor alliances abound; Ines Garcia-Keim/Beth Mason, Frank Raia/Michael Russo and the ‘indescribably malicious’ Fitzgibbons/Cammarano are all trying to get the jump on each other way in advance. Listen carefully as the latter pair bring down the house – of cards.

Social-conservative political leader caught in immorality play – no, that’s not Republicans on the take, on the make, without a break (yet again). That’s just Hoboken’s old-school political machine and its DINOs (Democrats In Name Only) arrogantly breaking every rule of law as if they had God-given right to. Start with the Old Hoboken mayoral/freeholder teams above. Cammarano, an election lawyer on the side, is now under investigation by the State for serious campaign-finance and election law violations; Fitzgibbons, the self-proclaimed Hoboken Uniter, has engendered total mutiny within the Hoboken Democratic Organization to the tune of having the Party in debt late in its fiscal year – with gross irregularities in the Party books to boot. Both show the distinct promise for other election finance violations in the near future as well as tenderizing the whole old-boy network for ruin. Fitzgibbons received kickbacks from the now-censured school-board member Carmelo Garcia, who’s running for school board again anyway. City Clerk Jimmy Farina and Anthony Romano leverage their own school-board seats and multiple hats into numerous election and fundraising violations that could have them censured as well or removed from office. And now the Hoboken Police Chief steps down after a raft of scandal washes by his desk: sex-tinged SWAT teams, departmental racism, money games of all kinds, even election law violations are alleged to the fore.

LaBruno, Cammarano, Farina and Romano – the sound of it is enough to curdle your mutz, not just one’s Italian blood. (Mine slogs through my turgid veins in fist-sized knots.) No wonder we hear of a "Hoboken Mafia" - the legendary network of low-brow political-finance gamesters who scud about like so many cockroaches fleeing our flooding cellars here. But why be surprised? None of this is truly new - and like any good salami, history repeats itself. We’ll hear much more of such shenanigans in the near future. The redeeming virtue of the coming stories is this time we’ll be hearing them in the media and from the authorities instead of just on the benches in front of City Hall.

Stay tuned here – the Great Game in all its Hudson Co. shame is about to become its own reality show. Mangia!


Obama Nets Seven Delegates Out of Iowa Convention

From Political Wire:

Chuck Todd: "The Clinton and Obama campaigns just got done fighting over Iowa... again! The state's 99 county Democratic parties held conventions today and the two campaigns were actively fighting to gain even more pledged delegates. At stake: the 14 pledged delegates John Edwards earned during the Jan. 3 Iowa caucuses.""Tonight, the Obama campaign claimed a gain of 7 pledged delegates, added to the 16 they earned on Jan. 3. Obama's manager, David Plouffe, also said their math had Clinton actually losing one of her 15 delegates that she garnered on Jan. 3. BTW, if the 7 number is accurate, it would be two short of what Clinton netted out of Ohio."The Clinton campaign disputes losing any delegates but admits Obama gained.

Update: Todd confirms Obama won 7 new delegates and says Clinton also gained one. There are still six Edwards delegates up for grabs at the convention.

Update II: Some are calling the evening a 10+ delegate take for Obama. He gained nine, while Clinton lost one last night. That erases Ohio. Stunning.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Ellen Tries to Leave Sally Kern a Message

Ellen made me mad around the Writers Strike, but this is pretty funny.

The Hypocrisy of the Media on Religion and Race

I am becoming furious regarding this Jeremiah Wright situation and have to put my thoughts down. The entire situation put me in a bad mood last night. So, here goes.

First, and I think foremost is the hypocrisy here. I mean John McCain has associated himself with ministers who have said equally offensive (I am not so sure Wright's remarks are all that offensive, but more later) remarks, with Rev. John Hagee's anti-gay remarks (curiously unremarked upon by anyone in the McCain campaign -- is the McCain campaign afraid to repudiate anti-gay remarks?), his anti-Catholic remarks, that Catholicism is the "great whore" and a "false church," and a cult (once condemned by McCain, but now McCain wants to give Hagee the benefit of the doubt)?, his millennialism (which means, as some honest McCain adviser must have explained to the candidate by now, the death of millions of innocent Muslims)... also: Jerry Falwell, and his casual association of 9/11 with the sins of homosexuality, and Rod Parsley, a man who McCain has called a "spiritual guide," a man who has also called Islam a "false religion" and has advocated war against it and various other bad things such as the destruction of Islam.

Why are these men entitled to their opinion and Jeremiah Wright is not? Because he is black. Plain and simple. There can be no other explanation. Wright has said blacks should sing God Damn America, not God Bless America. Here is the full context of the remark: "The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no, God damn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people," he said in a 2003 sermon. "God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme."

Are we supposed to disagree with that? I know Obama has to say he disagrees, but what about that statement is not true? African-Americans in our country have been treated as slaves (a not so silent holocaust), to Jim Crow, lynchings and second class citizen status, still today. All the statistics support this, yet because a minister who airs this type of rhetoric, he is anti-American. I say, "he who loves his country best, strives to make it best." And even if we disagree, which is every Americans right, who cares? He is a minister and the spiritual community is supposed to push our minds to see the social injustice. Religion is not just about being saved in the black community, it is a way of connecting to the people around you and improving one's lot.

He also said:

"We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye," Rev. Wright said in a sermon on Sept. 16, 2001.

"We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost," he told his congregation.

This is a little more dangerous and obviously more provocative. I can tell you, however I was in New York City on September 11, 2001 at the most leftist law school in the nation (CUNY) and several people said the exact same thing to me, black, white, people of mixed ancestries, and all genders. This is not a new statement, it is one shared by many that America's foreign policy has reaped what it sowed. It is similar to the statement made by Malcolm X that got him kicked out of the Nation of Islam after the Kennedy assassination.

Personally, the statement may be a bit of a leap, but it is emblematic of the feelings among many Americans who have had to suffer second class citizenship here and see the hypocrisy within our country. Surely, however our presence on the Arabian peninsula has sowed much hatred toward the American continent, that is without doubt. Whether we brought this upon ourselves is an unanswered question, did our government however? Did we sit by and watch as our government has engaged in neo-colonialist activities on every part of the globe? The answer to that question is an resounding yes. Though, much of this activity goes on without the knowledge of the American people, the black community is in a unique place to see things where we do not, that America is not always out to look after its citizens interests. The black community has a 400 year history of such perspective and sees this hypocrisy much more clearly than any other American community.

Instead of causing a firestorm of controversy these comments should spark a dialogue about race, domestic and foreign policy and we should not hold Senator Obama accountable for things his minister said. While McCain gets off scot free form his "spiritual" advisers who are lily white, Obama has to write a piece to the Huffington Post regarding his denunciation of his own minister. I think it is shameful and I think it speaks to all of our denial and amnesia in American society. We don't want to face the shame of the past or the inadequacy of the present, so let us denounce someone who raises the eyebrows and makes us uncomfortable.

It is getting tougher to live in America with this hypocrisy and suddenly someone comes on the scene with a little different perspective and different tone of skin and we become fearful opening up wounds we do not want opened up. If this is how we want America, I am not sure America wants me as a participant. This is all very discouraging.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Flying Lotus Tea Leaf Dancers Video

My brother truned me on to these guys, Flying Lotus, and they are tremendously tight indie-hip-hop. The video, in my humble opinion, is visionary. And really relaxing. Watch it again and again. And be a part of what is great about music.

Barack Obama on Jeremiah Wright

Barack Obama wrote an exclusive to the Huffington Post addressing the issues surrounding his preacher. If you are not hip to the controversy here it is. I have decided not to address it because I feel it is a non-issue and because the media basically ignores McCains hateful spiritual advisors. But, here is Obama's written piece to the Huffington Post.

The pastor of my church, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, who recently preached his last sermon and is in the process of retiring, has touched off a firestorm over the last few days. He's drawn attention as the result of some inflammatory and appalling remarks he made about our country, our politics, and my political opponents.

Let me say at the outset that I vehemently disagree and strongly condemn the statements that have been the subject of this controversy. I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country or serves to divide us from our allies. I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it's on the campaign stump or in the pulpit. In sum, I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright that are at issue.

Because these particular statements by Rev. Wright are so contrary to my own life and beliefs, a number of people have legitimately raised questions about the nature of my relationship with Rev. Wright and my membership in the church. Let me therefore provide some context.

As I have written about in my books, I first joined Trinity United Church of Christ nearly twenty years ago. I knew Rev. Wright as someone who served this nation with honor as a United States Marine, as a respected biblical scholar, and as someone who taught or lectured at seminaries across the country, from Union Theological Seminary to the University of Chicago. He also led a diverse congregation that was and still is a pillar of the South Side and the entire city of Chicago. It's a congregation that does not merely preach social justice but acts it out each day, through ministries ranging from housing the homeless to reaching out to those with HIV/AIDS.

Most importantly, Rev. Wright preached the gospel of Jesus, a gospel on which I base my life. In other words, he has never been my political advisor; he's been my pastor. And the sermons I heard him preach always related to our obligation to love God and one another, to work on behalf of the poor, and to seek justice at every turn.

The statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity or heard him utter in private conversation. When these statements first came to my attention, it was at the beginning of my presidential campaign. I made it clear at the time that I strongly condemned his comments. But because Rev. Wright was on the verge of retirement, and because of my strong links to the Trinity faith community, where I married my wife and where my daughters were baptized, I did not think it appropriate to leave the church.

Let me repeat what I've said earlier. All of the statements that have been the subject of controversy are ones that I vehemently condemn. They in no way reflect my attitudes and directly contradict my profound love for this country.

With Rev. Wright's retirement and the ascension of my new pastor, Rev. Otis Moss, III, Michelle and I look forward to continuing a relationship with a church that has done so much good. And while Rev. Wright's statements have pained and angered me, I believe that Americans will judge me not on the basis of what someone else said, but on the basis of who I am and what I believe in; on my values, judgment and experience to be President of the United States.

The Democratic House Passes a Good FISA Bill

The House has just passed the House amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R. 3773, to amend the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act of 1978 to establish a procedure for authorizing certain acquisitions of foreign intelligence, and for other purposes, by a vote of 213-197-1. The revised House legislation to amend FISA grants new authorities for conducting electronic surveillance against foreign targets while preserving the requirement that the government obtain an individualized FISA court order, based on probable cause, when targeting Americans at home or abroad. The House bill also strongly enhances oversight of the Administration’s surveillance activities. Finally, the House bill does not provide retroactive immunity for telecom companies but allows the courts to determine whether lawsuits should proceed.
The House reached what Democrats say is a compromise on the immunity provision. The bill passed Friday allows companies to defend themselves in court with using classified justifications for the warrantless wiretapping program, and it precludes the administration from invoking "state secrets" privileges. The House bill also creates an independent commission to investigate Bush's warrantless wiretapping program.

If Bush vetoes this bill, he is a cheat, sneaking liar. But, I suspect he is getting the pen out of his pocket right now.

Speaker Pelosi:“Why would the Administration oppose a judicial determination of whether the companies already have immunity? There are at least three explanations:

“First, the President knows that it was the Administration’s incompetence in failing to follow the procedures in statute that prevented immunity from being conveyed – that’s one possibility. They simply didn’t do it right. Second, the Administration’s legal argument that the surveillance requests were lawfully authorized was wrong; or public reports that the surveillance activities undertaken by the companies went far beyond anything about which any Member of Congress was notified, as is required by the law.

None of these alternatives is attractive but they clearly demonstrate why the Administration’s insistence that Congress provide retroactive immunity has never been about national security or about concerns for the companies; it has always been about protecting the Administration.” - Speaker Nancy Pelosi-

Seaside, New Jersey Police Have an Excessive Force Problem

From the Asbury Park Press:

Seven people who claim they were beaten by Seaside Park police have settled their excessive force lawsuits with the borough for a total of $1,271,000, officials here said.

The borough's insurance carrier, the Ocean County Joint Insurance Fund, has previously settled five excessive force claims for more than $1.5 million over the past 2 1/2 years. A total of 14 excessive force lawsuits were filed against the police department over the past three years.

The settlements have included no admission of wrongdoing by Seaside Park or its police department. The officers involved, and their attorneys, have strongly denied using excessive force in any of the cases. No officer has ever been disciplined for any action related to the cases.

But according to sources familiar with the case, the settlement amounts for the seven people are: Richard L. Teague Jr., who will receive $325,000; Jean C. Peguero, $300,000; Robin Seifert, $206,000; Wesley Panckeri, $115,000; Michael J. Jennings, $115,000; James Paul Belowsky, $105,000, and Earl Davis, $105,000.

However, according to the plaintiffs some were seriously injured by the police:

In his lawsuit, Teague, of Long Branch said he had a plate installed in his face to repair fractured bones that he sustained after police kicked and punched him in the head, possibly with a flashlight, outside the Sawmill Tavern and Restaurant on July 24, 2005.

Peguero of Union City said in his lawsuit that he was kicked in the groin while in the lobby of police headquarters on May 28, 2006, suffering a badly injured right testicle.
Seifert, of New Brunswick claimed that she fractured a kneecap and tore a shoulder muscle when she was knocked to the ground by police on Aug. 31, 2003, near the boardwalk concession stand her sister operated.

Thomas J. Mallon, the Freehold lawyer who represented Jennings, Teague, Peguero and Panckeri, along with three other people who had previously settled with the borough, said he hopes there will be no more excessive force claims against Seaside Park.

With the approval of the seven new settlements, only two people, New Vernon resident Alexander J. Casey, 21, and Austin Landi, 20, of Ridgefield Park, still have ongoing excessive force lawsuits against the borough. I think it is time for a change in the practices of the Seaside Police, you think?

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Speaker Pelosi on the Bush Fearmongering

First the Bush fearmongering.

Bush said:

This week House leaders are finally bringing legislation to the floor. Unfortunately, instead of holding a vote on the good bipartisan bill that passed the United States Senate, they introduced a partisan bill that would undermine America's security. This bill is unwise. The House leaders know that the Senate will not pass it. And even if the Senate did pass it, they know I will veto it.

Yesterday the Attorney General and the Director of National Intelligence sent a leader [sic] to the Speaker explaining why the bill is dangerous to our national security.... The American people understand the stakes in this struggle. They want their children to be safe from terror.

Pelosi's response:

I do not always agree completely with the Speaker, but I think she is a strong leader and stands up to this dastardly administration when she feels she absolutely has to...bravo Speaker Pelosi

The Clinton Campaign "Kitchen Sink" Strategy

Iraq War Journal

From the AP

Fewer people know how many U.S. troops have died in the war in Iraq, a poll showed Wednesday. Only 28 percent correctly said that about 4,000 Americans have died in the war, according to a survey by the nonpartisan Pew Research Center. That’s down from last August, when 54 percent gave the accurate casualty figure, which was about 3,500 dead at the time. In previous Pew surveys dating to 2004, about half have correctly given the rough figure for the approximate number of deaths at the time.

Violence is also clearly escalating. Deaths were at an average of 2o Iraqis per day (disgusting in the idea that this is good news), but now in March Iraqi deaths are up to 39 daily. Another bombing in Baghdad today.

The death total for U.S. soldiers stands at 3,987

parked car bomb exploded in a commercial district of central Baghdad Thursday, killing 18 people and wounding 57, police said.

The bombing took place off a bridge in Tahrir Square, a district of clothing shops just outside the heavily fortified Green Zone, which houses the U.S. Embassy and much of the Iraqi government, an Iraqi police official said on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to release the information.

The policeman and a hospital official said 11 people died. The hospital official said 57 had been injured.

The U.S. military on Thursday also said soldiers had killed a young Iraqi girl after firing a warning shot at a woman who "appeared to be signaling to someone" along a road where several bombs had recently been found.

Countdown: Keith Olbermann on the Clinton Campaign

These words speak for themselves.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

More Violence in Iraq

Three more U.S. soldiers were reported killed today in Iraq. Another soldier died from wounds suffered from an IED. This brings the total to twelve soldiers in the past two days. Additionally, the violence in Iraq seems to be escalating seriously with reports of a mass grave, beheadings and an associate of Muqtadr Al Sadr being killed among other developments.

Even more upsetting is this fucking government we have. The Pentagon issued a study (that we as tax payers paid for) that definitively concludes no link between Sadaam Hussein and Al Qaeda. Except now the Bush administration wants to squelch the report:

The Bush Administration apparently does not want a U.S. military study that found no direct connection between Saddam Hussein and al Qaeda to get any attention. This morning, the Pentagon cancelled plans to send out a press release announcing the report's release and will no longer make the report available online.

The report was to be posted on the Joint Forces Command website this afternoon, followed by a background briefing with the authors. No more. The report will be made available only to those who ask for it, and it will be sent via U.S. mail from Joint Forces Command in Norfolk, Virginia. It won't be emailed to reporters and it won't be posted online.

Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip - Letter from God

a great song and video from a very creative mind...scroobius pip. as someone on youtube commented: "spot-on"

Geraldine Ferraro

We haven't given out an assclown in a while, but Geraldine Ferraro earned it (though, the decision was tough with Eliot Spitzer in the news). After her comments that Obama is only there because he is black (scratching head). Or what was it? He is lucky he is not a white man. Then, the Obama campaign is attacking her because she is white? Excuse me? But, it is these comments from 1988 that are truly telling:

And former representative Geraldine A. Ferraro (D-N.Y.) said Wednesday that because of his "radical" views, "if Jesse Jackson were not black, he wouldn't be in the race."

Jesse responded:

Asked about this at a campaign stop in Buffalo, Jackson at first seemed ready to pounce fiercely on his critics. But then he stopped, took a breath, and said quietly, "Millions of Americans have a point of view different from" Ferraro's.

Discussing the same point in Washington, Jackson said, "We campaigned across the South . . . without a single catcall or boo. It was not until we got North to New York that we began to hear this from Koch, President Reagan and then Mrs. Ferraro . . . . Some people are making hysteria while I'm making history."

Geraldine Ferraro is an assclown!!! It is true sexism is a serious thing, but how does one advance your cause by saying racism is not. It is just plain weird and makes one thing there is more behind the words.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Eight U.S. Soldiers Killed in Iraq on Monday

A wave of insurgent bombings took the lives of eight U.S. soldiers and fourteen Iraqis in what seems to be escalating violence.

"Bombers unleashed a wave of explosions in Baghdad and north of the capital Monday, including two attacks that killed eight U.S. service members in the deadliest day for the military this year, American and Iraqi authorities said."

"The combined death toll of at least 22 included 14 Iraqi casualties, on the heels of twin bombings that killed nearly 70 people last Thursday in a Baghdad shopping district, indicated that Sunni Muslim insurgents are reasserting their presence at a time when large-scale attacks had dipped to record lows, Iraqi officials said."

In the worst attack on U.S. forces in Baghdad in nearly a year, five American service members died after a suicide bomber approached their foot patrol and detonated an explosives vest in the once-upscale central Baghdad neighborhood of Mansour, according to the U.S. command in Baghdad.

Four soldiers were killed at the scene and another later died from his wounds, the military said in a statement. Three more American soldiers and an Iraqi interpreter were wounded.
"These soldiers were walking in the neighborhood conducting a presence patrol. They were among the Iraqi people we have sworn to protect, where they live, work and gather," said Lt. Col. Steve Stover, a spokesman for the U.S. military in Baghdad.

Three other American soldiers and an interpreter were killed Monday by a homemade bomb — what the military calls an improvised explosive device — in the town of Balad Ruz in the Diyala province northwest of Baghdad.

Another brazen attack in Diyala killed Sheik Thaeir Ghadhban al Karkhi, a tribal leader from the province who belonged to one of the controversial U.S.-sponsored Sunni militias that have pledged to fight al Qaida in Iraq.

Go Get 'Em Barack!

Eliot, Eliot, Eliot...

Eliot Spitzer may resign tonight over prostitution ring. Here is a video of his statement. What amazes me about these press conferences, is that the women who have already been throughly humiliated, are made to sit by their idiotic husband's side only to be humiliated again. I would tell these morons to f*** off.

I like Eliot Spitzer and his star was on the rise, but a la McGreevey, we hardly knew ya and your leave in a shadow of shame. Of course, how come only Democrats resign? Vitter anyone?

Reality in Iraq: Iraqi Women Having Their Say

From Firedoglake:

Yesterday was International Women's Day and it has not been a good year for the women of Iraq. As Dahr Jamail noted this week:

Iraq, where women once had more rights and freedom than most others in the Arab world, has turned deadly for women who dream of education and a professional career.

Stronger Women, Stronger Nations: 2008 Iraq Report, a new report from Women to Women, provides the most detailed information on this "deadly" reality. You can download and read the full report here. (h/t GorillasGuides )

Here is also a powerful six minute video on life for women in Iraq:

A review of the findings of the report:

Hope for the Future
• 85.0% of respondents described the situation in Iraq as bad or very bad, and 88.8% expressed a great deal of concern that they or someone living in their households would become a victim of violence.
• Only 26.9% of respondents expressed optimism for the future, saying they thought the overall situation would get better in the year ahead. While there continue to be pockets of optimism throughout the country, and the overall situation may be on a slow ascent, the situation remains volatile, and the long-term sustainability of any improvements still remains to be seen.

• 71.2% of respondents said they do not feel protected by U.S./U.K. soldiers and 65.3% ofrespondents said that, overall, the presence of U.S./U.K. security forces in Iraq ismaking security in the country worse.
• 67.9% of respondents stated that their ability to walk down the street as they please has gotten worse since the U.S. invasion.

Violence Against Women
• 63.9% of respondents stated that violence against women is increasing. When asked why,respondents most commonly said that there is less respect for women’s rights than before,that women are thought of as possessions, and that the economy has gotten worse.

Economy and Infrastructure
• 68.3% of respondents describe the availability of jobs as bad and 70.5% said that their families are unable to earn enough money to pay for daily necessities.

Social Services
• 76.2% of respondents said that girls in their families are not allowed to attend school, and 56.7% said that girls’ ability to attend school has gotten worse since the U.S. invasion.

Political Participation
• 70.2% of respondents thought that the citizens of Iraq have not been given a chance to contribute their input on the future of Iraq, and 52.0% did not know if Iraqis had the right to participate in the political process.
• 43.6% of respondents did not think that the circumstances of women were being considered by those making decisions about Iraq’s future. However, in the Central Iraq cities of Fallujah, Samarra and Rawa, the number jumps to 75.1% of respondents saying they did not think women’s circumstances were being considered.
• 72.7% of respondents said that in the future there should be one unified Iraq with a central government in Baghdad, and 88.6% of women thought that the separation of people along ethnic/religious/sectarian lines was a bad thing. However, only 32.3% of respondents thought there would in fact be one unified Iraq with a central government in Baghdad in five years. This is another indication that women do not feel as though their opinions are being considered in decisions about their country’s future.