Saturday, May 31, 2008

What For?

Mia Farrow blogged about her nephew who died in Iraq on or near Memorial Day. If you don't check out Mia's blog, you should. It is dedicated to peace and justice, especially in Darfur and Palestine. On or near Memorial Day her nephew died in Iraq. This is what she wrote:

What for?

We have just learned that my nephew, Sgt. Jason Dene, died in Iraq yesterday His mother is my sister, Tisa Farrow. His dad is Terry Deane. Jason loved and was loved by his parents, his sister, Bridget, his brother, Mitchell, his wife Judi and their three small children. He was my God-son and cherished by all of us in this large family.

He also loved his country and he was proud to serve. But I don't know what Jason died for. There was never no evidence of weapons of mass destruction. That was a lie. So people speculate -- was it the oil? Or the old grudges of an old man -- Cheney and his Halliburton? Or the unfinished business of the father -- a haunting of the son? Saddam was bad -- but by then a sleeping dog. Not making threats. The world is full of brutal leaders, some are worse than Saddam Hussein.

This war is as incomprehensible as it is unacceptable. In a cloud of confusion, politicians, generals and ordinary people have come to see that it is a disaster. Exit plans are being discussed while Iraqi citizens and young Americans like our Jason are being killed.

My sister is a nurse. For long years has lived in fear of the day when the two uniformed men came to her door to deliver the most terrible news a mother could hear.

I hope I never see George W Bush. I could not shake his hand. He and his cabal have killed my beautiful nephew. May God, if there is one, forgive them. I cannot. Today Tisa and Terry, Bridget and Mitchell, Judi, and the three little ones - have been given a life sentence of grief. How many more must die before this atrocity is ended?

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Education for All: Does Anyone Care?

The title of my post, obviously, is not the most uplifiting. But, neither is the problem in Brazil, or in the US. Brazil, a developing nation with financial resources that pale in comparison to America's, has just started a ranking system for quality of education, and in the richest state in the country, São Paulo, the average ranking (from 1 to 10) for the major subjects of math, science, reading and Portuguese was less than 3 in all public schools. This is sad, but not a surprise when you factor in the average class size in Brazilian public schools, which is 45. That is correct. That coupled with a lack of books, an average salary of about $500 a month, and almost no time for teachers to get together with teachers from other schools to help each other, leads to terribly disappointing numbers throughout the country.

Today, when I opened up my emailed version of The New York Times, I read in an op-ed piece by Thomas Friedman, about a charter boarding school in Maryland called SEED where a lottery was held, open to the public, for the first 80 students to go to this innovation in education. Friedman was there on the day of the selection, and witnessed the joy and disappointment of the crowd there.

A school program like SEED is not a cure-all for anything. It is not going to turn around the dismal reality of so many public schools in the US. It will not magically reduce total dropout rates in cities like Balitimore, New York and New Orleans. There is no magic bullet, but it is an attempt to face up to the reality that the problem is not just money, but real ideas. The solution is not privatizing schools, or testing the hell out of schools to decide which ones to shut down. the solution is not cutting music and art classes.

The shortcuts are easy. They are easy in a country like Brazil, where quotas have engendered more outrage than the US has ever seen. The affirmative action plans of both the US and Brazil only band-aid a problem that needs to be attacked at the root, which is elementary school. If ideas like SEED can take off in school systems throughout the US, there is no real reason why they cannot be adapted, not necessarily copied, in Brazil.

Something must be done, and steps must be taken. A first step is looking at the reality of things, and not being blinded by ideals.

To read Friedman's op-ed piece, entitled Hope in the Unseen, go to:

George Orwell, Al Gore and Deceit

One of my favorite writers is George Orwell. Since reading 1984 and Animal Farm in high school, to reading Down and Out in Paris and London last month, I have always been fascinated by his razor-sharp commentary on class and control throughout this troubled world of ours. In Al Gore's The Assault on Reason, Gore quotes him, and the quotation is so fitting in a world where rhetoric has become reality, and leaders, especially American ones, truly believe that repeating something a thousand times will magically make it true.

Here are the words of Orwell:

" We are capable of believing things which we know to be untrue, and then, when we are finally proved wrong, impudently twisting the facts so as to show that we were right. Intellectually, it is possible to carry on this process for an indefinite time: the only check on it is that sooner or later a false belief bumps up against solid reality, usually on a battlefield."

Like Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, so on and so on.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

hoboken's scandal-makers

update on another hoboken scandal-maker:

SWAT report slams LaBruno

by Charles Hack

Tuesday May 27, 2008, 10:59 PM

The internal investigation into the Hoboken Police Department slams Chief Carmen LaBruno for failing to control Lt. Angelo Andriani and even colluding with him to abuse his position as SWAT commander, according to a copy of the scathing report obtained today by Hoboken Now and The Jersey Journal.

The report goes beyond the Hooters photo scandal and alleges a cozy relationship between Andriani and LaBruno that led to Hoboken cops working at Andriani's Verona home and points out that the now much-maligned SWAT team served absolutely no purpose for the citizens of the Mile Square City.

Hoboken labor attorney's David Corrgian's report entitled "In the Matter of an Investigation of the Hoboken Police Department" is dated March 25 and was intended for internal use by the Hoboken administration to decide what disciplinary action to take following the scandal.

Some key findings of the report:

*"Andriani did whatever he wanted with respect to the administration and operation of the unit," which he was in charge of since 1991 when the newly appointed LaBruno granted permission to form the SWAT team."

*"The SWAT team rendered virtually no meaningful services to the city" and the services it did perform such as providing security during the World Cup and two trips to Louisiana "did not benefit any business, resident or taxpayer of the City of Hoboken."

*"The Hoboken SWAT unit was more than a waste of money and/or time. The unit's operations either directly or indirectly let (sic) to several acts of misconduct engaged in principally by Andriani."

*Chief Carmen LaBruno "permitted Andriani to keep the SWAT bus at his home in Verona, New Jersey and work from home," where police officers worked on Andriani's boat and SWAT bus while being paid by the city.

*"'Working outside of Hoboken gave Andriani a license to have the police officers engage in private work for Andriani while the were being paid by the city."

*Andriani and LaBruno entered into a "secret" and "illegal" verbal agreement in the guise of aiding the SWAT operation, where Andriani allowed the police department to use his boat. But the "contract was not submitted to the City Council as required by law. The city received not benefits whatsoever. LaBruno let Andriani use the City's dock, which cost $15,000 for Andriana's boating pleasure."

*LaBruno allowed Andriani to collect SWAT dues through members' paycheckd without exercising "any oversight" on how the funds were spent.

*La Bruno allowed Andriani to use the SWAT funds to pay for the chief's trip for the Maddi Gras trip in 2006, stopping off at Houston where his family was on vacation.

The report also details the circumstances of the two trips to Louisiana after Katrina in the fall of 2005 and for Mardi Gras in early 2006, which led to infamous pictures of Hooter's waitresses, handling SWAT weapons for the camera..

The report, while showing that La Bruno had intervened to prevent disciplinary action against Andriani, also criticizes four police officers for allowing Andriani's misconduct as a "racist, liar and cheat" to continue longer than it should by not reporting until it was reported to Internal Affairs in Oct. 15, 2007.

LaBruno , 59, will retire shortly with an estimated $147,555 annual pension, plus a one-time payment of between $275,000 and $375,000, as per his contract with the city. That includes compensation for 150 unused vacation days and $150,000 in termination pay

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Historic Missteps for the Hoboken City Council: Almost 8 Million in Debt

Below is a letter from the newest City Council Woman Dawn Zimmer. I am posting the letter in its entirety. It is astounding at this city's ability to misspend and hide the true nature of the Hoboken budget and outright lie to the people that elected them. Can you say transparency? Open government? Not in Hoboken.

Dear Friends,

Over the past several weeks, my fellow City Council colleagues and I learned that the Administration has been misleading the City Council and the people of Hoboken about the state of our City's finances. We have spent millions of dollars more in this fiscal year than the Mayor disclosed in his budget. The City has been hiding its true spending by continually "sliding" payments into the next fiscal year. This practice is clearly irresponsible and very likely illegal.

The most egregious example is our health insurance. Last week, the City's health insurance was almost cancelled due to the fact that we had fallen at least 4 months behind in our bills. This was not a simple oversight. The City had under budgeted its health insurance by $3,600,000, and the Administration was trying to hide the information from its citizens. The City simply stopped paying its bills, planning to hide the true cost of this year's operations in next year's budget.

Had the City not received a termination notice from the insurer, we may never have discovered what was going on. We still don't know what other expenses may have been hidden in this way. There are 40 days left in the fiscal year, and the Administration is still unable or unwilling to provide a straight answer as to how much it cost to run the City this year.

As of today, we know that our budget deficit is at least $7,900,000. Once full information is known, it is likely that the number will be even higher. The City has exceeded the amount that it is legally permitted to spend by millions of dollars. As a result, it is likely that there will be a substantial increase in our 4th quarter tax bills. The responsibility for this situation lies squarely with our Mayor, and those public officials who knew what was going on and helped cover it up.

Last night, the Administration asked the City Council to approve an application for a "spending cap" waiver. In essence, this waiver application would ask the State to retroactively approve over-expenditures that have already been spent, at a time when the Administration has still not been forthcoming as to the full extent of our problem.

By a 5-4 vote, the Council refused to permit this. The likely result is that the State Department of Community Affairs will step in and oversee our budget process. We finally will have the opportunity to have our "books" fully examined, so that the people of Hoboken can learn the truth about how our City is being managed. The five votes were cast by me, Councilman Cunningham, Councilman Russo, Council President Castellano and Councilwoman Mason.

While resolving our current situation will be painful, we are finally on our way to righting our fiscal ship. Once that it is done, and our financial situation is finally transparent, we will be able to plan responsibly for the future, and make the investments in parks and infrastructure that our City so sorely needs. Next Wednesday, May 28, the City Council will hold an emergency meeting to address this crisis. If you can, I urge you all to attend. I will keep you posted as to events as they unfold.


Monday, May 26, 2008

Recount: The Story of the 2000 Florida Theft

If you have HBO you should watch this movie. It is an astonishingly accurate portrayal of what happened in Florida in the year 2000. It shows just what these Republicans would do to take the Presidency and after watching this and remembering what happened it is obvious these fuckers would do anything to put through their agenda. Dangerous and provocative, Denis Leary is wonderful and Laura Dern gives a spot on performance of Katherine Harris.

Though, one criticism - there had to be some strong women figures during this solid defeat of the democrats and we are stuck with only one performance of Katherine Harris that though extraordinarily accurate is the only women's role worth discussing in the film. Where was Donna Brazile? Was it all men running the show? I guess that question could be a yes, but that is troubling in itself.

The film is superbly acted, however and brings you solidly back to the trauma, though there is a sampling of excitement now that our nominee is clearly picked and we are a mere 240 days before these fuckers are gone forever.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

What do the Top 20 Shows on Television Tell us about Ourselves?

My friend was telling me last Tuesday she had ICLE class (a class for new New Jersey lawyers), but the professors were going to let them out early because American Idol was on and it was the finale. I reminded her did the professors also realize Kentucky and Oregon were voting and we are picking a President? Silence even from lawyers.

The Top 20 Shows of the season were released after sweeps week. Below are the actual top five shows for the year. It is simply pathetic. Maybe Daddydan was right, who cares about the writers strike if this is what we are stuck with? There is not a show on here I actually watch or would ever watch for that matter. Does that make me out of the mainstream? Weird? Out of touch? Am I one of those crazy liberals those white working class voters in Pennsylvania, Ohio, W. Virginia and Kentucky talk about? I am an elitist because I cannot stomach this garbage. The #6 show is the first actual drama in the list and that is the ever eventful and laughably bad Desperate Housewives. And of course CSI and House - also garbage. I cannot decide which is worse the reality shows or the ridiculous piles of shit they put on television as drama. The only sitcom on the list is Two and Half Men, led by the genius of Charlie Sheen.

I guess I am an elitist. We have become so dumbed down by what is on television. We actually reach out and say this is good when ten years ago it was ridiculous. It is shock and awe on the little screen with a lot of sex and no substance. Pathetic. We bought HBO again last night just to have something worthwhile to watch on the little screen. I can't wait for Recount. Of course no one will watch it and that my friends is how we get stolen elections, preemptive wars, torture and executive power with no end.

1.“American Idol” Tuesdays - Fox - (28.75 million)

2.“American Idol” Wednesdays - Fox (27.78 million)

3.“Dancing With the Stars” Mondays - ABC (21.67 million)

4.“Dancing With the Stars” ABC - (19.58 million)

5.“Dancing With the Stars” Tuesdays results shows ABC - (19.56 million)

The RFK Assassination Reference Fiasco

Hillary Clinton invokes the assassination of RFK for reasons for staying in the race. It was unseemly yes, weird yes, but unforgiveable? The first I saw of it, I thought - well, that is the calculating Clinton legacy, blame party unity and calls for her to get out on veiled sexism...but then her remarks go off course. Everytime I see it - the remarks seem to get worse. I don't know what she was thinking.

Mrs. Clinton apologizes, but seemingly to the wrong person.

Olbermann does not accept the apology and says this final episode is "unforgiveable."

Friday, May 23, 2008

Media Matters Calls Lou Dobbs on his Jingoistic Nonsense

I heard yesterday that when people are wrong they attack the person, when they feel they are right they attack the argument. Hmmm...what does this mean for Lou Dobbs?

From think progress: Dobbs has a history of perpetuating myths on his show, previously linking undocumented immigrants with cases of leprosy, airing a report saying that the “invasion of illegal aliens is threatening the health of many Americans.” When CBS News confronted Dobbs and told him his claim was false, Dobbs simply replied, “If we reported it, its a fact.”

Last night, Dobbs similarly dismissed challenges to his fact-free claims, calling Waldman “an ideologue” and “a left-wing hack.”

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius is my Choice for Obama V.P.

This question will continue to dominate the political landscape over the next few weeks as Michigan and Florida get resolved. But, there is continuous speculation on who will be the heir apparent. Much of that speculation focuses on whether Obama owes that pick to Hillary Clinton. I have long argued against this pick and still am vehemently opposed to it. The least of which is her Republican turn in the primaries and hawkish tone as well as unsavory rhetoric among the white working class voters. But, all that is forgivable as she is a seasoned politician that would serve as the hammer in the campaign that Obama is unlikely to do. But most important is that Obama's message of change becomes weakened with the Clinton pick. In step Governor Kathleen Sebelius.

She has been my pick for a while, but I have wavered as many tinker with the talking points of no foreign policy experience, blah, blah. She is an exact replica of Obama's change message, however in Kansas while still sticking to extremely progressive ideals and reaching out to voters one would never expect. With that comes the question is he (Obama) or she (Sebelius) tough enough? Well, the answer to that question is in the actions. On May 19th Sebelius said no to a Republican favored, politically expedient, but well accepted voter I.D. law that seeks only to disenfranchise the poor. The Supreme Court recently upheld the sanctity of these bills in Crawford v. Marion County Election Board. And so far, few states have gotten riled up, preferring instead to spend their little remaining legislative time this session on real solutions to real problems, rather than disenfranchising elderly nuns.

This is how the Brennan Center described the bill:

The Kansas legislature recently passed legislation requiring voters to show citizenship papers when registering and photo ID when voting in person at the polls. This is the harshest such law in the country, beyond any other state. And though there's no indication that there's a pressing problem this solves, there are already reports from other states with less restrictive rules that real people are showing up and having to cast ballots that won't count. Most people, yes, have specific types of documentation. But some just don't—and without the right papers, it's actually not a small thing to get the right papers. Sometimes, you're stuck in an endless loop: needing to show a birth certificate to get a photo ID, and needing to show photo ID to get a birth certificate. At times, the bureaucracy can be majestic in its capacity to frustrate. I have spoken to clients on the phone with this issue. It is common among the poor or those who are homeless.

The bill landed on Governor Sebelius' desk and she quickly vetoed it. She stated: the bill created a roadblock that prevents citizens from voting. “Additionally, she said "no elected official should support enacting new laws discouraging or disenfranchising any American who has been legally voting for years.” The law of course is passed with the notion to protect voter fraud, but like in the Crawford case there is no (count it none) evidence whatsoever that indicates voter fraud. This is also no small act because last year the rationale was the bill could be unconstitutional, but since the measure has been upheld by this right wing renegade court Sebelius may suffer political consequences. Instead she chose to stand up and do the right thing, a rare quality in national politicians.

Sebelius for V.P. all the way. She was against the war, firmly pro-choice, and has consistently stood up to the right wing in Kansas. For more on Governor Sebelius go here.

rat packer to be next prez

from SG friend & reader, and obama swooner r thelonious:

"Is it ok to want Obama to be president because he would obviously be
the coolest motherfucker in the room?"

i say, oh yeah, it's ok!

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Hillary is Taking the Fight to the Convention

How far has the Clinton campaign gone to send Lanny Davis (Mr. Joe Lieberman) on to Fox News to tell us that Fox News is the most fair and balanced network? Too far in my opinion.

Make no mistake about this the Clinton campaign is back in full swing claiming Obama is actually like George Bush because he is disenfranchising voters in Michigan and Florida. The campaign is going on the offensive about sexism as well. I saw an argument tonight claiming sexism is the reason she did not win the nomination or is not winning. It has nothing to do with the fact that she has run this campaign like a Republican, she is the candidate of "let's obliterate Iran." She has pulled out every stop, asked for the votes of white, hard working Americans so why not bring up sexism as the reason.

So, let me say a little something about this. There is no doubt sexism has played a part in this campaign especially from the media stand point as has racism - clearly. Arguing which ism is worse is a useless, petty argument that has no place here (though one could make the argument since women make up 58% of the voting in democratic primaries this has not been a disadvantage). Both candidates suffer the hardship of being the first, but I feel as democratic voters are concerned (excluding media bullshit and Republican crazies) each candidate has been given a fair shot by the democratic voting public. You can say W. Virginia and Kentucky would never go for Obama because of "cultural" elements there just as you can say MD., VA. and DC and other southern states were going Obama all the way because of his advantages in garnering most of the black vote.

The argument is petty, vile and stupid. The Clinton campaign is not going away. They are taking this to the convention unless the most powerful democrat in the country stops her. Yes, Nancy Pelosi. Act soon.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Ted Kennedy Diagnosed with Brain Cancer

Ted Kennedy has been diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor. Ted Kennedy is a man of many persons and lives. From cheating in law school, to a bumbling young Senator in gaining his brother's seat in 1962 to becoming an outstanding Senator in his own right, delivering a stirring eulogy at his brother Robert's funeral and then - to Chappaquiddick. Despite this tragic episode he again became the "Lion of the Senate." Indeed he is... and outlining his legislative accomplishments would take a lot longer than a blog post. I remember as a young man as he brought Justice Bork to his knees in declaring his racist, sexist views of the Constitution. On that day, I came to the conclusion that we all have contradictions in us, some of us larger than others. His Chappaquiddick episode is unexplainable and that is not really in doubt, but neither is his committment to the progressive causes (every one of them) that lead our nation. No, he isn't perfect, but as far as politicians go, he was pretty good. My thoughts are with Ted Kennedy today.
Obama expresses his support for Ted Kennedy

Senator Byrd offers his tearing support to his dear friend.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Green Car of the Year?

From R. Thelonious, the infrequent, but dead on balls accurate poster.

My wife and I were driving down the highway the other day. Actually we were stuck in traffic. Parked on the highway. To our right was a ginormous billboard announcing the 2008 Green Car of the Year:

"What the fuck?!" we said to ourselves. Turns out this earth-friendly gas guzzler gets 21/22 mpg est. compared to its non-hybrid brother which gets 14/19 mpg est. Apparently, everyone is gaga that they managed to get a 50% increase in city driving fuel efficiency. Notable, but not laudable. Other hybrids on the market get 30/34 mpg est. So why did Carl Pope, President of the Sierra Club, vote for the Chevy Tahoe Hybrid? Because it "ends the argument that efficiency and vehicle choice are incompatible." In the ongoing debate about the wisdom of partnerships between corporate interests (polluters) and environmentalists, score a point for the cynics who see this as the polluters opportunity to put green lipstick on their pigs.

And then I see this op-ed from Krugman. Though he and I are not very friendly due to his unexplained disdain for Obama, I still read him especially when he informs me that "the average German car uses about a quarter less gas per mile than the average American car. By and large, the Germans don't drive itsy-bitsy toy cars, but they do drive modest-sized passenger vehicles rather than S.U.V.s and pickup trucks." Not only that, but "over the course of the 1970s and 1980s, the average mileage of U.S. passenger vehicles rose about 50 percent, as Americans switched to smaller, lighter cars."

Ok, I am done venting. Thanks for listening.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

The People's Movement

75,000 people gathered in Portland Oregon (my favorite American city) to hear what the next President of the United States had to say. Despite what many people say (and there are legitimate concerns with Mr. Obama's policies) the American people are ready for something vastly different than what we have in this country right now. People are thirsty for change, a different direction where the people are represented. 247 days left.

From the Washington Post: Sen. Barack Obama has seen his share of large crowds over the last 15 months, but his campaign said they have not approached the numbers gathered along the waterfront here right now. The campaign, citing figures from Duane Bray, battalion chief of Portland Fire & Rescue, estimated that 75,000 people are watching him speak.

The scene suggests this is not an exaggeration. The sea of heads stretches for half a mile along the grassy embankment, while others watch from kayaks and power boats bobbing on the Willamette River. More hug the rails of the steel bridge that stretches across the water and crowds are even watching from jetties on the opposite shore.

hang it up

since i spent part of the day air drying my laundry despite some drops of rain... and reading my middlebury magazine... a shout out to a fellow middlebury alum who is the founder of project laundry list. alexander lee is a full on air-drying advocate who helps green activists promote the "right to dry."

Alexander Lee
Concord, New Hampshire
Founder and executive director, Project Laundry List

"When I was a child, my mother always hung out our clothes to dry. At the time I didn't think much of it, but when I was in college, Helen Caldicott gave a speech at a peace symposium. She said one step to shut down the nuclear industry was for us all to dry our laundry on a clothesline. That really made me stop and think.

"Dryers use a lot of energy: 6 to 10 percent of residential electricity usage. Clotheslines are a great alternative. Your clothes will last longer and smell better, and you'll save money on your energy bills. The sun basically does all the work for free.

"Project Laundry List was created at Middlebury College. We launched National Hanging Out Day and asked people to 'hang your pants, stop the plants' and 'put yourself on the line.'

"I've gotten hundreds of e-mails from people all over the country saying that they're going to try putting a clothesline in their backyard. It's an easy step anyone can take. The problem is that in a lot of neighborhoods, community associations see hanging laundry as a flag of poverty, and they have banned it in public. In Columbus, Ohio, you're not allowed to hang clothing out to dry in any historic district, and there are other restrictions around the country. We're trying to pass legislation in North Carolina and Vermont that would say community association boards can't prohibit people from using clotheslines. We are also championing right-to-dry language in any national climate-change legislation.

"Taking the time to hang out your clothes is a consciousness-raising activity; it makes you rethink other parts of your life. Plus, you can save up to $85 a year in energy costs."

--interview by Orli Cotel


Just line drying your clothes in the spring and summer can prevent about 700 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per household, based on Energy Information Administration averages. To keep jeans and towels from getting stiff, add a half cup of white distilled vinegar to the rinse cycle or give them a brief spin in a clothes dryer.


For more tips on how to use less energy to wash and dry clothes, visit and

The Double Wammy for New Jersey Residents without Health Insurance

A measure sponsored by Senator Loretta Weinberg, which would limit the amount hospitals may charge certain uninsured patients for inpatient and outpatient care was unanimously approved today by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.

Weinberg said she understands hospitals are struggling, but they cannot be allowed to make-up in lost profit on the uninsured, especially she says when these men and women are the least able to pay. Senator Weinberg's bill, S1797, would cap hospital bills for uninsured patients at no more than 15% above the Federal Medicare charge. The bill also calls upon the Department of Health and Human Services to develop a sliding fee scale, based on family income, which would be used to determine reasonable costs for hospital services.

In order to qualify for these set fees, residents' income would have to be less than 500% of the Federal poverty level, which is currently $21,200 for a family of 4 (500% of which is $106,000), said Senator Weinberg.

As someone who has been a victim of this fraud I applaud Senator Weinberg, who has shown herself to be a true blue progressive. Bills are high enough in hospitals when one has insurance, but when you don't the bills pile up at insurmountable proportions. I had surgery after a car accident that was a very serious situation. Within days my bills were passing the $75,000 dollar mark. With no ability to pay (I was in law school) and because I sacrificed my health insurance for food and books I was up the creek. Two years later, poverty stricken throughout law school I finally won a lawsuit to pay the bills.

But, the unfairness in charging someone who does not have health insurance more for their health care shocks the conscience. How many different issues could universal health care actually solve? It would be an interesting list to compile.

Saturday, May 17, 2008

a bright vision for the future-- essential reading

from symposia books in providence, RI (a wonderful bookstore we discovered a few years ago), a book i want to get... i briefly knew chris carlsson (friend of a friend) when i lived in san francisco in the mid 90s, he started the critical mass bike ride phemon, every friday in the city...
Chris Carlsson, the author, will be at symposia on monday may 19th for an in-store reading...

Nowtopia: How Pirate Programmers, Outlaw Bicyclists, and Vacant-lot Gardeners are inventing the Future Today!

"Chris Carlsson is one of our most original and compelling voices of radical social change in America. Nowtopia opens a window onto today's vibrant subcultures of technical experimentation and cooperative work, in everything from biofuels to bicycling, gardening to the webworld. More than tinkerers and bohemians, these renegade innovators are pioneers of new ways of living beyond the market and ordinary jobs. Carlsson moves effortlessly from tales of personal liberation to a trenchant analysis of the reconfiguration of class. Nowtopia is a ringing appeal for the liberation of human creativity from the noose of wagework--before it's too late."

-Richard Walker, Prof. of Geography, University of California, Berkeley, Author of The Capitalist Imperative

another one bites the dust...

ok my favorite cafe mola aka emack & bolio's is gone (converting to a eco-yogurt store?! huh?! and no more coffee), and guess what i see on washington street the other day???!!!!!!! another starbucks... but of course, now there are 3 in the mile square corporate city, along with a plethora of banks, nail salons and other lovely soulless chains. i'm so desperate i found myself thinking, hmm, maybe i can go to panera for a cafe feel... the soul of hoboken dies a little more... the days of independent stores rapidly decline.

Olbermann on O'Reilly's Body Language

Bill O'Reilly is famous for putting body language experts on his show. Olbermann cuts him up in this segment and is simply beautiful. I don't think I ever laughed so hard during an Olbermann segment. This is fantastic. First a review of the O'Reilly flip out by Keith and then the body language expert.

Assclown-in-Chief Bush Attacks Democrats at the Knesset

President Bush went to Israel to slam an American Senator, the leading opposition Presidential candidate as an "appeaser." Some say this is the first time in history an American President went on foreign soil to slam a fellow American politically. Here is a short clip and it is quite shocking. It seems Bush considers Israel more of a friend than democrats.

Obama responds in a forceful way outlining the differences between he and these nut Republicans. I think it is interesting though the credibility Obama brings because he never supported this war. He speaks with conviction and outrage just like Americans who never supported this disastrous policy. He stands strong and cannot attack him like they attacked Kerry. Though, I must say we must change our policy toward Israel which he is signaling he won't do. But, the entire middle east peace depends upon it. Anyway, here is the clip:

Friday, May 16, 2008

Dying on the Road

According to the organization, Make Roads Safe, and reported by The New York Times' Minute Waltz, every 6 seconds someone is killed on the roads of the world.

This got me to thinking. And I just read in today's local Bauru daily newspaper, that, on one of the highways that runs from Bauru to another city called Iacanga, someone dies every 10 days.

Now, this is a disturbing fact, just on the surface, but when combined with the fact that this statistic is fatal accidents, it becomes truly frightening when you think about how many total accidents must occur daily on that particularly small, two-lane road.

I have written in the past about my experiences driving in Bauru in particular, and this week, in one of my Conversation classes at CNA Language School, where I teach ESL, I tried to get to the roots of the problem.

The consensus was that individuality, and the belief that one's life is so stressful that everyone is just getting in the way when you are driving, leads to so many of the accidents on today's roads.In the textbook we use, the writer notes some instances in Philadelphia, in which one driver, cut off, shot another driver in the head. Another, in the same city, was over a parking spot.

As I drive to work today, I am certain that I will feel the adrenaline rush when someone cuts me off, or runs a red light, and I try not to blow my horn at them. Then, I am sure I will let my mind wander for a moment, longing for a city where I don't need to drive to work, because I have the greatest subway system in the world: New York.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Do It Yourself Laptop Bag

SG reader and friend lice sent me this recycling tip:

How to Make a Laptop Bag from Cardboard

So you've just received a nice laptop, but you can't afford 40 bucks for a carry case? Or your current laptop bag has shredded, gotten coffee spilled on it, or doesn't fit your new laptop? You can make an inexpensive temporary replacement from nothing more than a box and some packing tape!

thanks lice!

CA Overturns Gay Marriage Ban!

California is now the second state in the union to allow same sex marriage!

What a couple of days we are having. First NARAL endorses Obama, then Edwards does the same and now CA sees the light. Woohoo! It's a good week.

Although there is still an anti-gay marriage ballot initiatives slated for a vote in Cali. Consider donating to stop it.

A New Wild West?

Yesterday, in Brasilia, Brazil's capitol, Marina Silva, Minister of the Environment, resigned. She had worked for Lula's PT (Worker's Party) for over five years, but had battled recently with senior aides, as well as governor's of some of the most controversial states in the battle between agrobusiness interests and Amazon rainforest protection. While not exactly saying that she felt stepped-on, she did say that this time, unlike in the past, her decision was permanent. As Folha de S. Paulo noted, this is seen as a victory for the soy and ranching business, and especially the governor of Mato Grosso, who has called for an increase in deforestation, as a solution for the inflation of food prices. Silva, an ardent advocate for the different tribes in the area, as well as increased protection and penalties against illegal lumbering, was publicly at odds with the governor, one of the most powerful in Brazil.

BBC, as I just read in Folha de S. Paulo, is on top of things in the Amazon, as well as Indonesia, another literal hotspot for the burning and destruction of rainforests worldwide. The photo attached to this post is from yesterday's issue of BBC online, and shows the drastic demarkation between farmland (mainly soy) and the Amazon, in the state of Mato Grosso. This report, combined with the numerous reports both nationally and internationally regarding the acquittal of Bida, accused of ordering the death of Dorothy Stang, who tirelessly defended natives and the rainforest in the state of Para, has put the focus back on what has become today's Wild West, and one of the most important battlegrounds in the fight to control climate change while feeding a world increasingly dependent on Brazil for food. Numerous reports here in Brazilian periodicals have noted that areas with high levels of illegal lumbering also have the highest numbers of homicide per capita. With the aforementioned acquittal of a powerful farmer in the death of Stang, many fear that it is open season on dissidents an voices for the Amazon.

To check out the fascinating slideshow on BBC, complete with shocking captions and stories about those who make up the Amazon reality today, go to:

Do not miss this revealing and disturbing look at one of the most important places in the world.

Who Needs Speed Racer?

My brother, John Fogarty, has been putting out local New Jersey art for years, and doing it for much less than the wacked-out Wachowski Brothers, creators of the middling, Speed Racer. I have to admit, I have not seen the popcorn light show that is their attempt at a film version of the classic pre-cursor to Anime, but I don't really plan to spend $10 to see great colors when I can just look at the bouncing balls of color in this recent piece by Mr. Fogarty.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Flight of the Conchords: Ladies of the World

O'Reilly Flips Out

How nuts is this guy? This is from 16 years ago, but talk about anger problems. To quote Ketih Olberman: Bill O'Reilly, today's worst person in the world.

Edwards Endorses Obama

Adding to Magda's good news below, John Edwards decided to get off the fence and endorse Obama. In the great words of someone, "what took you so long?" Edwards gave a spirited endorsement, no doubt which marked many of his own campaign promises, ending poverty, universal healthcare, ridding Washington of the special interests and ending the free ride for corporations. Though, I have to admit it was not as complimentary of Obama as one would have liked. He barely mentioned him, but that seems to be just fodder for the pundits and he was there to give Obama the credibility with those so-called blue collar white voters. Since Obama got 27% of the vote in W. Virginia and Edwards who has been gone for three months got 7%. That is a shocking statistic. Anyway, they looked good together. Who will be the VP? McCaskill? Sebelius? Webb? Edwards? Richardson? Who knows? But, let the conversation begin. When the video is available I will put it up.

Update: Videos below.

NARAL Endorses Obama for President!

NARAL Pro-Choice America has endorsed Barack Obama for President.

This is great news! They are getting some negative responses on their blog, so stop over and show them some pro-choice, Obama-lovin' support!

Monday, May 12, 2008

Lieberman, the Dope

Why does this guy still hold any chairmanships? I mean wtf Harry? Get rid of this guy once and for all. This clip shows how off the deep end he has gone and the people of Connecticut should ask for his resignation immediately. I am not getting into the politics of Hamas or Hezbollah because I vehemently disagree with the democratic party, but this bullshit Lieberman spews is an attempt to link Obama with so-called terrorist sympathizers. It is code and it stinks. Assclown.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Happy Mother's Day (to some anyway)

Topping the list as the best place to be a mother is Sweden with the rest of the Scandinavian countries not far behind (ahhh life in a Social Democratic Country). The Countries from sub-saharan Africa dominate the lower tier. The United States ranks 27th. When my friend, a Portland mother to be (for the second time) sent these statistics to me it took a while to absorb them. They are shocking on two levels, that the division between the top and the bottom is so severe and secondly, that the United States fares so poorly. Below are some excerpts from the report and the website.

The gap in availability of maternal and child health services is especially striking when comparing Sweden, at the top of the list, and Niger, at the bottom. Skilled health personnel are present at virtually every birth in Sweden, while only 33 percent of births are attended in Niger. A typical Swedish woman has almost 17 years of formal education and will live to be 83. Meanwhile, 72 percent of Swedish women use some modern method of contraception, and only 1 in 185 will lose a child before his or her fifth birthday. In stark contrast, in Niger, a typical woman has less than three years of education and the life expectancy of a girl born today is only 45. Only 4 percent of Nigerian women use modern contraception, and 1 child in 4 never sees a fifth birthday. At this rate, every mother is likely to suffer the loss of a child during her lifetime.

Zeroing in on the children's well-being portion of the Mothers' Index, Italy finishes first and Niger finishes last out of 168 countries. While nearly every Italian child ─ girl and boy alike ─ enjoys good health and education, children in Niger face a 1 in 4 risk of dying before age 5. In Niger, 44 percent of children are malnourished, and less than half of children are enrolled in primary school.

Country Comparisons:

The Mothers' Index presents individual country comparisons for poor countries that are especially startling when one considers the human suffering behind the statistics:

  • 1 child in 4 does not reach his or her fifth birthday in Afghanistan, Angola, Niger and Sierra Leone. In Sweden, only 1 child in 333 dies before age 5.

  • Fewer than 15 percent of births are attended by skilled health personnel in Afghanistan and Chad; 96 percent of births are attended by skilled health personnel in Sri Lanka.
    Over the course of her lifetime, 1 woman in 8 will die in pregnancy or childbirth in Afghanistan. Compare that to 1 in more than 47,000 in Ireland.

  • A typical woman in Angola, Dijbouti and Niger has less than four years of schooling versus a typical woman in Australia or New Zealand who receives over 20 years of formal education.
  • A girl born in Swaziland will not live to see her 30th birthday. Compare that to a girl born in Japan who will live to 86 years old.

Why doesn’t the United States do better in the rankings? The United States ranked 27th this year based on several factors:

● One of the key indicators used to calculate well-being for mothers is lifetime risk of maternal mortality. The United States’ rate for maternal mortality is 1 in 4,800 - one of the highest in the developed world. Thirty-five out of 43 countries performed better than the United States on this indicator, including nearly all the Western, Northern and Southern European countries and Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Hungary, Japan, New Zealand, Poland, Slovakia and Ukraine.

● Similarly, the United States did not do as well as many other countries with regard to under-5 mortality. The U.S. under-5 mortality rate is 8 per 1,000 births - up from 7 in last year’s Index. Twenty-nine countries performed better than the U.S. on this indicator.

● Only 61 percent of children in the United States are enrolled in preschool - making it the ninth lowest country in the developed world on this indicator.

● Next to Australia, the United States has the least generous maternity leave policies of any wealthy nation.

● The United States is also lagging behind with regard to the political status of women. Only 17 percent of seats in the U.S.Congress are held by women, compared to 47 percent in Sweden and 42 percent in Finland. Why is Sweden number one? Sweden performed as well as or better than other countries in the rankings on all the indicators. It has the highest ratio of female-to male earned income, the highest percentage of women with seats in the national government and - along with Iceland - the lowest under-5 mortality rate in the world.

Friday, May 9, 2008

grow some green

wondering what to do with your extra stimulus package green from the government?

ideal bite posted some super useful ideas today...
The Benefits
  • Add to the $2.3 trillion already invested in socially responsible businesses - money that helps the green marketplace grow.
  • Between 2000-2005, the value of the Global 100 most sustainable companies outperformed a common benchmark (the MSCI World Index) by 80%.

Community Investing Center - put money into a low-risk bank account (insured at $100,000 per depositor like traditional banks) that provides loans to underserved borrowers. Measure your potential impact here.

Blue Marble - socially responsible investment firm helps you green your portfolio; low account minimums (starting at $100 plus $100 per month).

MicroPlace - makes it easy for you to give small loans (even just $100) to entrepreneurs in developing countries; you make a low-risk return of 2%-3%.

Fleur de l'Europe Brut - hell, even do-gooder investors ought to indulge in a little biodynamic bubbly once in a while ($70).

Calvert Online and Social Investment Forum - tools that help you pick funds and stocks based on the eco and social criteria that matter to you.

Stuffed and Starved

From Democracy Now watch the author of Stuff and Starved talk about the world food crisis. Many of the myths about ethanol, biofuel and climate change policies are discussed and it is shocking what this crisis consists of the contradictions between the west and the rest of the world as well as the west and its poor.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Philadelphia Police Brutality

Philly policemen were videotaped stomping, kicking and beating three men suspected to be involved in a nearby shooting. An attorney representing the men called it a brutal attack by cops. He also said one of the men had a baseball-sized welt on his forehead, multiple scrapes and bruises, and was barely conscious.

Police Commissioner Charles Ramsey who saw the video, said, "On the surface it certainly does not look good, regarding the amount of force that was used. But a full investigation is underway."

The video shows police cars chasing a gold sedan to a stop in the 3700 block of North Second Street.Other police cars keep arriving. About six to eight officers, with guns drawn, swarm over the sedan, pulling open the driver's door. As more officers race up to the car, one beats the passenger's side with a baton. All four doors are pulled open, and as each of the three men is pulled from the car, he is tossed to the street and surrounded by three to five officers.

A group of about three or four officers begin trying to handcuff the driver and can be seen delivering at least 13 kicks to the suspect's head and sides as well as several punches. The passenger pulled from the rear seat is also kicked by a group of four officers as well as being struck four or five times by an officer who appears to be wielding a baton.A canine officer stands nearby restraining an excited police dog.

The video is only 52 seconds, but believe me it is enough.

Clinton Wants to Appeal to "White America"

If anyone thought Hillary was going away think again. How does she become the democratic nominee? By appealing to racism. Good for her. At least she is being honest.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

I Present to You the Presumptive Democratic Nominee

Obama's victory speech in North Carolina in three parts. A clearly weary Obama, but a renewed sense and I must say that I have been in a bad mood as of late, mainly due to the attack on Obama and that we were falling into the old style politics. But, I feel good tonight and I have a renewed sense that our nation can be better. Power to the People.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

new jersey local boy = literary bad boy

growing up in oakland, new jersey, who knew someone from our boring suburban enclave would become such a literary bad boy? maybe you don't know him, but you should... jonathan ames.
a graduate of indian hills high school (though he graduated several years before me), jonathan ames has become quite the literary star (and he was almost a TV star on showtime but the pilot didn't expand into a series)... now he's delving into the graphic novel format (with illustrator dean haspiel who illlustrated the quitter by harvey pekar, an amazing story)... i couldn't be happier! see a recent story/other illustration collaboration "next door neighborless" here.

more about mr. ames on wikipedia... thanks for making new jersey proud... and showing that the typical suburban upbringing is not so predictable!
here in a publishers weekly article, he discusses his new book:

The Alcoholic ended up as a graphic novel (published by Vertigo, which recently announced a plan to put more focus on original graphic novels) through Ames's friendship with artist Dean Haspiel, a fellow Brooklynite. "I was sitting in a cafe in Brooklyn,” Ames said, “and he came up and introduced himself to me, said he was a fan of my writing, and then we fell in love, and eventually adopted several children. We were kind of like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie, except nobody knew it," Ames joked. More seriously, he added, "After meeting at the cafe, we became friends. One of those rare after-age-35 new friendships."

Obama Ready to Close this thing Out?

The polls are all done. Real Clear politics has Clinton by five in Indiana and Obama by eight in North Carolina. These are good averages, but do not always tell the whole story. Still, I think they are right. I say Obama wins North Carolina 55-45 and Clinton wins Indiana by a smaller margin at 53-47. I also think if this result holds up then Superdelegates (as they did yesterday) will begin flocking to Obama. She is only 15 ahead right now.

We shall see tonight.

Monday, May 5, 2008

sarah keeps the government outta her love with jimmy kimmel

thanks to SG reader lice-a-roni who spotted this and sent to me, knowing i luv the big S... by the way sarah is not 27, by my count she is 37... she uttered this phrase on the view once before & it makes me smile: "i don't want the government involved in our love."

Comedienne Sarah Silverman has vowed never to marry her longtime boyfriend Jimmy Kimmel - because their relationship is perfect as it is. The 27-year-old has been romantically involved with Kimmel, host of TV talk show Jimmy Kimmel Live, since 2002 - but she insists she has no plans to wed any time soon. She tells, "I'll be honest, we have it good. I don't want the government involved in our love. When my friends get married I think it's romantic, I cry, whatever. But it's not for me." However, Silverman hasn't ruled out having children: "I might adopt, but we're going to wait. If you're going to have kids, you need to have time to give them undivided attention."

Sunday, May 4, 2008

John Kerry: Telling MSNBC to Get Over It

New Jersey Diversity

One of the reasons I love living in New Jersey is the diversity. The tremendous diversity. I saw an article today from a couple of days ago on North Jersey that has released census data on the Garden State. That data endes at July 1, 2007. It also groups all of Asian people which I find ridiculous. Chinese, Korean, Indian, Pakistani are all fully represented in New Jersey, but under the rubric of Asian. That is an awfully big continent. The same can be said for Hispanic I guess which by the way Latino is much more inclusive. Here is the data:

* Hispanics remained the largest minority group in both New Jersey and the nation. At 1.4 million, they made up 15.9 percent of the state population. Nationwide, Hispanics numbered 45.5 million, making up 15.1 percent of the population. Since 2000, the Hispanic population in New Jersey grew by 22.6 percent, and nationwide by 28.9.

* Blacks were the second-largest minority group in New Jersey and the nation. In New Jersey, they numbered 1.3 million, comprising 14.5 percent of the population. That marked an increase of 3.7 percent since 2000. Across the United States, they totaled 38.8 million, making up 12.8 percent of the population. Their numbers grew 8.5 percent since 2000.

* About 650,000 New Jersey residents listed their race as Asian, making them 7.5 percent of the state population, which constitutes a 30.6 percent increase since 2000. At the national level, they were 13.4 million, or 4.4 percent of the population, reflecting a growth of 25 percent since 2000.

* Young children, ages 10 and below, and adults between 30 and 60 years of age were the major forces behind the growth in New Jersey's Hispanic population since 2000. The adults fueled 51 percent of the increase, and young children fueled 17 percent.

* For Asians, the biggest drivers of change – accounting for 60 percent — were adults ages 30 to 60. Children 10 and under were less of a factor for Asians than for Hispanics, accounting for 10 percent of the growth.

Note: Census analysis did not include people who reported more than one race.
Source: U.S. Census Bureau

Saturday, May 3, 2008

kabul update

kabul snapshots, from my cousin serving in afghanistan:

Village children

Village elder bringing the children in from one of the fields.

Bob Herbert of the New York Times

"Most of the electorate understands that the U.S. is in sorry shape, which is why more than 80 percent of poll respondents say we’re on the wrong track. The Rev. Jeremiah Wright has nothing to do with any of that. The idea that his nonsense may shape the outcome of this election is both tragic and absurd."

Published: May 3, 2008

The Rev. Jeremiah Wright is no doubt (and regrettably) a big issue in the presidential campaign. But what we’ve seen over the past week is major media overkill — Jeremiah Wright all day and all night. It’s like watching the clips of a car wreck again and again.

We’ve plotted the trend lines of his relationship with Barack Obama over the past two decades. What did Obama know and when did he know it? We’ve forced Barack and Michelle Obama, two decent, hard-working, law-abiding, family-oriented Americans, to sit for humiliating television interviews, reminiscent of Bill and Hillary Clinton on “60 Minutes” at the height of the Gennifer Flowers scandal.

We’ve allowed the entire political process in what is perhaps the most important election in the U.S. since World War II to become thoroughly warped by the histrionics of a loony preacher from the South Side of Chicago.

There’s something wrong with us.

Race is like pornography in the United States — the dirty stories and dirty pictures that everyone professes to hate but no one can resist. But I suspect that even porn addicts get their fill sometimes.

The challenge for the working press right now is to see if we can force ourselves past the overwhelming temptations of Wright and race and focus in a sustained way on some other important matters, like the cratering economy, metastasizing energy costs, the dismal state of public education, the nation’s crumbling infrastructure or the damage being done to the American soul by the endless war in Iraq.

A highly decorated Army ranger named David McDowell, a 30-year-old father of two from Ramona, Calif., was killed in Afghanistan this week. As I read his obituary, I noticed that he had been deployed to Afghanistan and Iraq seven times. What does that tell us about our shared wartime sacrifices?

I’d like to hear a lot less about Reverend Wright and a lot more about why the U.S. can’t close the deal in Afghanistan and hardly even seems interested in extricating our G.I.’s from Iraq.
Among the many other important issues overshadowed by the good reverend is a legitimate dispute between the presidential candidates over a proposed gasoline tax holiday, to run through the summer. Hillary Clinton and John McCain favor this dopey, irresponsible proposal, which would save individual motorists a grand total of $28, but which would result in $9 billion in lost tax revenues, much of it targeted for infrastructure needs.

(Senator Clinton says she would recoup the losses with a windfall profits tax on oil companies. Don’t hold your breath.)

No one with a serious understanding of the nation’s energy needs supports this foolishness. Senators Clinton and McCain have been assailed by editorial writers on the left and the right for pandering. Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York City was stinging in his criticism, calling the proposal “about the dumbest thing” he’d heard in a long time.

“Obama was right on this one, and McCain and Clinton were wrong,” said Mr. Bloomberg. “The last thing we need to do is to encourage people to drive more and to take away the monies we need for infrastructure in this country.”

The point here is that this was a tailor-made opening for the press to push the candidates hard on a phenomenally important question: What should we be doing in the short and long term about U.S. energy requirements?

Another issue: Economists were exhaling Friday because we only lost 20,000 jobs in April. After all, we lost 81,000 in March. Nevermind that we need to be creating millions of jobs if we’re ever going to get our economic house in order. With credit cards maxed out, real estate prices falling and enormous amounts of home equity already drained, a good job is the only legitimate way to put real money into the hands of cash-strapped families.

Americans are hurting on the jobs front. Those who are employed are working fewer hours and for less pay. Some sectors are crippled by unemployment. There are big-city neighborhoods in which the real jobless rate of young African-Americans is 80 percent or higher.
Do the candidates have concrete strategies for engaging these problems? Could we hear about them? Explore them? Critique them?

Are we in the news media going to be serious about this election, or is it really going to be all about Wright and race all the time?

Most of the electorate understands that the U.S. is in sorry shape, which is why more than 80 percent of poll respondents say we’re on the wrong track. The Rev. Jeremiah Wright has nothing to do with any of that. The idea that his nonsense may shape the outcome of this election is both tragic and absurd.

Barack Obama: A Ghettoized Elitist

I have become increasingly frustrated with the media's coverage of this campaign focusing on issues that have nothing to do with the issues that face our nation. But, here we are. Last night I watched Chris Mathews while I worked out and he had on Michelle Bernard (who I like) and Ron Brownstein, who I thought I liked. All we hear is the white working class voter won't vote for Obama. Then, Mathews chirped in without the least bit of irony and said the Reverend Wright is a problem, has he been ghettoized? A question for Michelle Bernard. Not less than a minute later he asks Brownstein has his elitism hurt him? Ok. You can't be ghettoized and an elitist. Doesn't work that way, Tweetie. I think it is certainly a first in Presidential politics where someone is a black nationalist elitist.

Anyway, I was thinking Obama needs to get back to the issues, get back to inspiring us and his base. Me. A liberal (very liberal) white man with advanced degrees and the African-American population. Inspire us. We can win it for you and we will eventually bring the rest along. So, here it is. He was great last night. Here is the closing that was essential politicking.

Friday, May 2, 2008

... the end of the world as we know it ...

SG logo creator, Renato Alarcão, from Associado SIB - Sociedade dos Ilustradores do Brasil -submitted the above image published by a fellow illustrator that was just sent to the Society of Brazilian Illustrator's web group.

renato asked about john mccain & is worried what will happen if we elect him... and he then quoted REM's Michael Stipe who used to say: "It's the end of the world as we know it..."

thanks renato for sharing this image and your thoughts!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Did the U.S. Supreme Court Just Elect John McCain ?

This is the title of an article on truthout. By 6-3 the Court has upheld an Indiana law that requires citizens to present a photo identification card in order to vote. Florida, Michigan, Louisiana, Georgia, Hawaii and South Dakota have similar laws. Though it's unlikely, as many as two dozen other states could add them by election day. Other states, like Ohio, have less stringent ID requirements than Indiana's, but still have certain restrictions that are strongly opposed by voter rights advocates.

The decision turns back centuries of voting and jurisprudence that accepts a voter's signature at the voting booth. The Justices in their opinion admitted there is "no evidence" for wide spread voter fraud for enacting these laws, but yet here we are.

Voting rights activists have long argued that since photo ID can cost money, or may demand expensive trips to government agencies, the requirement constitutes a "poll tax." Taxes on the right to vote were used for a century to prevent blacks and others from voting in the south and elsewhere. They were specifically banned by the 24th Amendment to the Constitution, ratified in 1964.

Justice Stevens, the court's most reliable liberal wrote the opinion for the 6-3 court arguing though rare, the "risk of voter fraud" was nonetheless "real" and that there was "no question about the legitimacy or importance of the state's interest in counting only the votes of eligible voters."

This latest Supreme Court decision is yet another serious blow to voting rights advocates - and probably to the Democratic nominees for President and other offices. It will clearly make it far more difficult for poor, minority, elderly and young citizens to vote. Tens of thousands of normally Democratic voters in key states - especially Florida, Michigan, Georgia and Louisiana - will simply be prevented from getting a ballot.

The Brennan Center for Justice at New York University's School of Law in its "Friend of the Court" brief noted that between 10% and 13% of eligible voters lack the identification now required in Indiana. People without an official photo ID tend to be disproportionately minorities and poor, ushering a new Jim Crow era based on race and class apartheid. One Indiana study, according to Inter Press Service reporter Jim Lobe, found that 13.3% of registered Indiana voters lacked the now-required ID, but the numbers were significantly higher for black voters at 18% and young voters age 18-34 at more than 20%. Read the rest here.

There is no other reason for these laws, but to disenfranchise voters at the polls. There are not widespread voter fraud throughout the nation. It just does not exist, yet we now have a Supreme Court decision that states one must have an I.D. at the polls. While the danger for 2008 is real, 2010 could open the flood gates.

Shame on Justice Stevens.


loved this so much, had to share, especially her creative new word concept at the end of the letter. from my favorite comix store in the northwest (portland, oregon), reading frenzy:

Dear Readers,

Happy May Day! Radical historic significance aside, May Day is one of my favorite lesser-recognized holidays. When I was a wee lass we would weave paper ribbons through plastic strawberry baskets, fill them with flowers, leave them on neighbors' doorsteps, knock and run. Did you know you're supposed to get a kiss if you're caught? Pick your neighbors carefully, I guess! In later years this was the day that I moved my bedroom to a roomy second floor balcony and slept al fresco through the end of September. Although the official first day of spring has come and gone, it doesn't really get started for me until the 1st of May.

Two years ago today, I was traipsing around Rochester in Kent, England with dear friends, taking in my first castle, trying not to tread on ancient graves, and enjoying the annual Sweeps Festival. This was my most touristy request - attending a traditional May Day celebration. The rest of the trip was spent exploring relatively obscure roadside attractions, dusty bookshops, fancy chocolatiers, outdoor markets, and oddball museums.

This year, May Day happens to fall on the 1st Thursday of the month, so we have even more to celebrate than usual! We're proud to present an exhibit of recent work by Portland denizen and international animal hero, Nicole J. Georges, entitled I Like To Be Alive. In addition to the art show, we are also celebrating the recent release of the second collected volume of her enchanting and beloved zine, Invincible Summer (Microcosm, 2008). We've been showing Nicole's work for years and it's been a pleasure to watch her evolve as an artist. Even in the early days, she demonstrated a remarkable knack for capturing expression and spirit in her animal portraits, but this show, and in particular the wolves and rabbit pieces, reveal quite a leap in technique. It's going to be hard for me to restrain myself from snapping them up, so you'd better come quick!

So, after all this reminiscing, how about we start a new May Day tradition? Let's all do something fancy for someone else's benefit, for no other purpose than to brighten their day. You could have one intended recipient or perform an act of public fabotage* to benefit any random passersby.

Send in your reports to for a future update. Bonus points for photos and anonymity in your fancy attack!

Your Faithful Proprietress,
Reading Frenzy
Portland, OR

*Fabotage is a word that I coined last year to describe a deliberate action aimed at changing something for the better through various methods of improvement and embellishment. While a subversive and possibly illegal act, it should not obstruct, disrupt or destroy its target.

Deborah Jeane Palfrey found dead

Deborah Jeane Palfrey, aka the DC madam, has committed suicide. I find this so disturbing. Ms. Palfrey gets tried, sentenced and takes her own life. Yet jack asses like David Vitter didn't even lose their jobs, much less go to prison. I know that she wasn't caught on prostitution charges. Still...the double standard that is applied to the sex industry outrages me.

May Ms. Palfrey rest in peace.