Thursday, April 30, 2009

Congressman Kucinich: "I Will Not Vote for the Expansion of War"

WASHINGTON - April 29 - Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) today issued the following statement after voting against H.Con.Res 13, setting forth the congressional budget for the United States Government for the fiscal year 2010:

"I am committed to doing everything I can to put our community and our nation on the path to economic stability. I led opposition to the bank bailout program TARP, I worked vigorously in favor of the stimulus package, and I have worked to save the automotive, steel and aerospace industries in America.

"I will not vote for a budget that ties military spending to the operational funding of our government. This year, the budget includes $130 billion for war funding. We are ramping up the war in Afghanistan, and have yet to find an end to the war in Iraq. Recent media reports indicate that we may double our troop levels in Afghanistan by 2010. This budget helps to authorize that expansion, and I will not endorse a budget that sends more of our brave men and women to a war without an end in sight."

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Jesus License Plate

Florida, now infamous for so much has a new Jesus license plate. I planned on commenting and ranting, but then I looked at it again and well, it kinda speaks for itself. We can now worship while we drive. Wait a minute, aren't license plates given out by the state? Hmmm...I know there is some rule against it, but right now it is slipping my mind...

Monday, April 27, 2009

The Flyover in Jersey City

So, this morning I went to go get my coffee at Legal Grounds. As I am walking back to Sussex street to begin the day writing Appellate briefs, the biggest plane I ever saw was directly above me, as loud a plane as you can possibly imagine and so low flying it gave me chills. I ran into the middle of the street to get a better look, possibly as low as the tallest building in Jersey City, the Goldman Sachs building, it crossed my mind this might not be by accident. It also occurred to me the plane looked a lot like Air Force I, though minutes before I saw the new President on the television screen,not in the air. A plane flew next to it, what looked like a fighter plane, an F-16? Maybe they caught Dick Cheney and Obama is giving him a scolding?

I walked up the stairs to see my partner, visibly shaken running from the bedroom (home sick) and asking me what the F$@^! is going on out there. Exasperated, I said I didn't know and then heard it circle and come back and I ran to the window to see it again, turning toward the south headed directly for the Statue of Liberty. We also heard many screams and the sounds of running feet at the waterfront in Jersey City, it seemed people were alarmed at the flight, like me. I asked myself, could this be a plane carrying the swine influenza? Seriously, watching the panic in the reporters eyes asking the CDC questions might have added to my own panic. It circled again, but then in an instant disappeared. I turned on the television, but nothing until about 2 PM and at the press briefing on the pandemic a reporter asked about the plane and wondered if this was a good idea to alarm the very victims who suffered during 9/11. Ya think.

Turns out it was a pre-planned photo op by a couple of bozos which caused evacuations at the buildings at the World Trade Center and in the financial district in Jersey City (many of these people transferred to Jersey City after the tragedy of 9/11), about three blocks from my house. Not the FAA's best day, nor the police who were told "not to alarm the public" with this information. Huh? I can tell you I was very alarmed at the sight of these planes, one absolutely breathtaking to look at and a bit unnerved; along with the sound I don't think New Yorkers will ever be able to relinquish - it rattled me for at least an hour. Just another example of government thinking the little peons don't need to know information. Just imagine what it has been like to live in Baghdad or Gaza the last few years?

Jacoby Ellsbury Steals Home

For all who did not enjoy the sweep of the Yankees by the far superior Red Sox I apologize. This video, however is watchable by any sportsfan of any kind. It is one of the most difficult and exciting plays in sports, stealing home. The feat is nearly impossible to achieve, the most memorable of course is Jackie Robinson stealing home in the world series against the Yankees.

Jacoby Ellsbury is a member of the Colorado River Tribe and is the first member of a Navajo tribe to play in the Major Leagues.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Jonathan Turley on a Special Prosecutor for Torture

I have come to absolutely love this guy. He is my role model as a lawyer. He is deadly smart, but unquestionably passionate about the Constitution and the rule of law. He always tells it like it is...when either Keith or Rachel have him on it is a must watch.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Pulitzer Prize Awarded the Media Won't Report

Amazingly, shockingly, yesterday David Barstow was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for investigative reporting, not that you would know it, if all you did was turn on your television and watch the news. Glenn Greenwald reports that Barstow won the award for two articles (if you haven't read them you should) of master reporting that appeared on the front page of the New York Times, but was virtually ignored by every major news television outlet. Yes, that implicates our beloved Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann. "We all have to pay the mortgage."

Simply, the Pentagon needed some good press for the war in Iraq, the build-up, the performance of the war, the criticisms, you name it, so they sent out the generals, paid by the Pentagon and more than that have ties to the companies doing business in Iraq set to make hundreds of billions of dollars. And the networks who also paid them for their services in their analysis of the situation. Basically, the Pentagon wanted to sell the war, the generals saw the benefit, and the networks provided a pulpit. Simple. Voila, we have the war in Iraq. Barstow's reporting exposed it all.

The Pulitzer committee described the award of Barstow's reporting as such:

Awarded to David Barstow of The New York Times for his tenacious reporting that revealed how some retired generals, working as radio and television analysts, had been co-opted by the Pentagon to make its case for the war in Iraq, and how many of them also had undisclosed ties to companies that benefited from policies they defended.

Greenwald goes on:

By whom were these "ties to companies" undisclosed and for whom did these deeply conflicted retired generals pose as "analysts"? ABC, CBS, NBC, MSNBC, CNN and Fox -- the very companies that have simply suppressed the story from their viewers. They kept completely silent about Barstow's story even though it sparked Congressional inquiries, vehement objections from the then-leading Democratic presidential candidates, and allegations that the Pentagon program violated legal prohibitions on domestic propaganda programs. The Pentagon's secret collaboration with these "independent analysts" shaped multiple news stories from each of these outlets on a variety of critical topics. Most amazingly, many of them continue to employ as so-called "independent analysts" the very retired generals at the heart of Barstow's story, yet still refuse to inform their viewers about any part of this story.

Even after the articles won the prestigious Pulitzer you would think the news organizations might report something of the story. Nope. Silent.

Read the rest of the article from Glenn Greenwald here. Disgusting. "Don't believe anything you hear and half of what you see" has new meaning.

Monday, April 20, 2009

President Obama Violating International Law?

News leaked yesterday (from the wonderful Marcy Wheeler of Firedoglake) that Kahlid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times. From Think Progress:

Marcy Wheeler digs through the recently-disclosed Office of Legal Counsel memos authored by the Bush Justice Department and finds these startling statistics: Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded 183 times in March 2003 and Abu Zubaydah was waterboarded 83 times in August 2002. Wheeler concludes, “The CIA wants you to believe waterboarding is effective. Yet somehow, it took them 183 applications of the waterboard in a one month period to get what they claimed was cooperation out of KSM. That doesn’t sound very effective to me.”

What is more Obama has asked us to move on, while morally (in my opinion) repugnant it happens to also be illegal. Think Progress also has a piece that when Obama released the four torture memos he released a statement not to allow prosecutions against CIA agents who engaged in these patently illegal tactics. In an interview the UN Rapporteur on torture, Professor Nowak explains that Obama's immunity grant is a violation of international law. Read the rest of the post here.

Now, it is understandable as a boss that you don't want your underlings (these CIA agents who engaged in torture) prosecuted because of what it might do for morale. But, for us, as Americans we need the Constitution to be followed, to be protected and when it is violated, consequences should follow. If they are not we are bound to repeat the same mistakes. It isn't Obama's decision really it is ours. And we need to make it for him.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Colbert Coalition

The Colbert ReportMon - Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
The Colbert Coalition's Anti-Gay Marriage Ad
Colbert Report Full EpisodesPolitical HumorNASA Name Contest

Torture Memos

Here is how we entered the dark side, made it legal. Just chilling to read. As I read these memos the one thought going through my head is "they have no idea what they are doing, fucking incompetents." And that is it. Even the second paragraph of the first memo says "Zubaydah has information he is not willing to divulge" and what, torture will make him? That premise has been debunked for centuries. But, these neo-cons thought they could do better. Why? Because they were scared and had no idea what they were doing. So, they decided to make torture legal.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

High Speed Rail

This morning President Obama announced his plans for high speed rail and I have to say the plans are pretty good. Obama allocated $8 billion out of the stimulus package to begin the high speed rail infrastructure project now and much more in the future. As someone who loves public transportation and rail travel I am very excited. The DC to Boston trains, though considered high speed only travel and average of about 80 miles per hour. Mainly because of curving tracks, etc. and congestion. The TGV in Europe can move up to speeds over 200 mph, but averages about 140 MPH. The train from Paris to Lyon takes less than an hour and travels over 250 miles.

The routes expected to vie for the $8 billion (above) are of course the Northeast Corridor from Boston to D.C. for upgrades and track improvements, but also northern New England, Chicago, the southeast, trains from Florida to Texas, California and the Pacific Northwest. For more go to the website.

Elizabeth Warren of TARP Oversight Speaks to John Stewart

Ok, so Elizabeth Warren is one of the brightest financial people working today. A Harvard Law Professor and if anyone saw the movie "Maxed Out" she was the star. She is brilliant and in the first segment shows why this is so bad, but in the second segment she explains what happened, why it happened and how we go forward and why in two minutes. It is worth the watch.
The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Elizabeth Warren Pt. 1
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

Part II
The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Elizabeth Warren Pt. 2
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisPolitical Humor

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Teabagging American Style

Imagine if the networks followed the Iraq war protests like they are following "teabagging." Is journalism really this bad? On that note it seems the I.Q. for these "tea parties" is about 43, maybe 44.

Listen to this guy's incoherent rant.

And I like this reporter's indignation. Sometimes things are not left, or right or centrist, they are a fact. This guy seems to have an ailment of the brain.

Q&A with ... gabrielle bell

long overdue, another Q&A with women in indie comics ...

while i discovered gabrielle bell a bit later in her published career, i'm catching up for lost time. my first read, lucky (picked up by drawn and quarterly in 2006), a group of semi-autobiographical stories, holds a cherished place now in my comics collection. cecil and jordan in new york is her newest collection and it packs a punch. i adored the imagery and adventure of "my affliction" and "helpless" brought back the BEST memories of scuffles with my high school friend. (images from "helpless")

a little wikipedia background on her published work ... "From about 1998 to 2002, Bell annually self-published a 32-page comic, each of whose titles began with "Book of...", including Book of Insomnia, Book of Sleep, Book of Black, Book of Lies, and Book of Ordinary Things. Many of the stories from those comics were collected in When I'm Old and Other Stories, published by Alternative Comics in 2003."

read on about gabrielle as she shares her likes, her life and her collaborative film venture with michel gondry (Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep and Be Kind Rewind):

1. care to comment on how the collaboration with michel gondry evolved?

He really liked my chair comic, and wanted to make some kind of film
or play with that. The producers approached him to do a thirty minute
segment for the film Tokyo!, and that was one of the ideas he
proposed, and they liked that one.

the on-set filming experience?

It was hectic. I’d never been to Japan before, and never been on a
film set. It was all very unfamiliar. It was a constant anxiety
attack. But I’m really glad to have done it. Michel pushed me into
places I’d never have gone by myself.

will this lead to more film-book adventures?

I am really into comics. I don’t want to do movies. Then again, I
could be tempted back, I’m sure. The glamour of it all is so

2. favorite films?
I recently saw Elaine May’s Mikey and Nicky, and really loved that.

books you are reading now?

Lydia Davis, Rabbit Series, John Updike, Alice Munro.

3. early influences? books, comics?

The Freak Brothers…Mad Magazine…Kurt Vonnegut.

4. so the autobiographical nature of your stories -- does that drive
most of your storytelling? how does the revealing nature of the
stories help you?

There is definitely a difference between my autobiographical stories
and my fictional ones. I take a different stance to each.
Autobiography is more like speaking directly to the audience, fiction
is more like playing a part, and not breaking the fourth wall. But I
always use my own life-at least in bits and pieces-because it’s all I
know for sure. Even if I use details of someone else’s life, I try to
draw on my own feelings. There are at least some people in the world
who can relate to me.

5. what prompted your move into self-publishing?

It was-and still might be-the thing to do for indy cartoonists
starting out. It’s easy and fun and cheap to make your own Xeroxed (or
laser printed) mini-comic, and give them out and sell them and trade

how did D & Q find you?

I’d been contributing to anthologies for years, so they’d seen my work
and asked me to contribute something to their showcase anthology.

7. city or country girl?

I grew up in the country and I really miss it but I’m a city girl. I
like good coffee shops and bookstores and bars and a feeling of an
endless choice of those things.

8. where else in the world you would live?

I’m pretty stuck on Brooklyn. I ask myself that question once in
awhile and can’t seem to come up with much. Maybe Tokyo…maybe
somewhere in the South of France…both to learn the languages. Maybe
there’s some place I’ve never been to that I would be totally happy
in, like somewhere in Mexico or in Hawaii or on some remote Island
where I could do my comics in peace, but maybe I’ll never find it.

9. how did your formal education prepare you for this extraordinary career?

Thanks, but my education was pretty informal. I took several classes,
but never finished school. I am not a good academic. I regret that,

10. your favorite snack food?

I like tarts, or little pies of any kind, sweet or savory…empanadas,
or dumplings, or pierogis, anything with some sort of filling with
some sort of crust or doughy shell of some kind. Even those little
hostess pies, or pop tarts.

thanks for sharing your thoughts with us, gabrielle! looking forward to your next creations!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Broadway Danny Rose

The most underrated Woody Allen Comedy, just beautifully written in the style of Billy Wilder.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Same Sex Marriage Heating Up in New Jersey

The fight for same sex marriage is heating up in New Jersey. After Iowa, Vermont and now DC accepting out of state same sex marriages (thank you magda) the fight is turning to New Jersey and New York for that matter. Opponents, however realize this and are slamming $1.5 million dollars into the state to stop it. "The National Organization for Marriage" is leading the charge and its goal is to "activate those people who already agree with us."

The organization's television commercial, called "Gathering Storm," asserts same-sex marriage advocates "want to change the way I live" by forcing everyone to accept that same-sex marriage is acceptable. That means wedding photographers and marriage counselors could be labeled bigots and sued if they oppose working with same-sex couples, the group said.

The problem you see, is when I go to these websites and try and find out just what these "traditional marriage" advocates believe, it is a tough task. What exactly do they believe? That same sex marriage hurts regular marriage? That is an obvious claim, but why? That question is much more difficult to find. Basically, the argument is that traditional marriage is defined by a man and a woman, not by same sex couples and it has been for millenniums. That is it. Nothing else. It is pure and simple homophobia. Traditional marriage up until 1967 was also defined by people of the same race only until Loving v. Virginia changed that.

There is also something wrong with the traditional argument. It does not hold up to scrutiny. According to a book: "Marriage, a History: How Love Conquered Marriage" an exhaustive look at marriage across all cultures, marriage for love goes back about 200 years and that might be pushing it. Putting aside for a moment the gross disproportionality impact that "traditional marriage" has placed on women, Coontz says marriage was an economic and political institution, not to be decided by something as trivial as love. This is why marriage was left up to the community, neighbors and parents so they could choose the "right" partner for you. A union that would work for economic and political reasons as well as reproductive reasons. We see this today in many cultures who still practice this type of arrangement.

Not until the late eighteenth century (1780's) did individuals in Europe start marrying for personal affection and even these marriages were at the behest of the male, an institution that purely and profoundly placed women in a secondary role well into the 20th century and arguably still today. Coontz says that many men sought out women who came from wealthy families so as to acquire "standing" in society. This is where the notion of "marrying up" comes from. Our own beloved George Washington owned almost nothing until he married Martha.

The argument is a farce, a pure and simple farce. Yet, our laws based on this notion cloaked in homophobia reflect it. Yes, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont and now New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island close behind we are breaking the cycle of nonsense. It is slow, however and the draconian law of DOMA which denies couples federal benefits even if the state allows same sex marriage stands with no end in sight.

As long as we know we are living in a farce. It isn't the only one.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Vermont Passes Gay Marriage Legislatively

Vermont becomes the 4th state in the union to allow same sex marriage, passed in beautiful Montpelier, Vt maybe one of the most pleasant and beautiful capital cities in our nation. The legislature passed the measure, the Governor threatened a veto and then they overid the veto. Now, of course the 19th century wannabees are calling for a referendum. Stay tuned. But, for the first time a state has done so through the legislative process instead of the courts. Read more at the Burlington Free Press.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Michelle Obama in Londontown

The Obamas have taken Europe by storm, but surely it is Mrs. Obama who is doing the inspiring. Yes, her husband earned the right to be President, but it is her ancestors who built this country on blood, sweat, toil and bondage. She earned the respect of the Queen in her own way and then she visited a school full of girls from ethnic backgrounds and from this video these girls were touched deeply.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Gay Marriage Legal in New Jersey? Nope. Iowa.

The Iowa Supreme Court overturned the ban on gay marriage in Iowa in a unanimous ruling. Wow. Read the ruling. Gay marriage will be legal in three weeks. Those of us in New York, New Jersey and especially in California can hang our heads in shame. Human rights are coming whether we are ready for them or not.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Interview With Ward E Councilman Steve Fulop

This is an interesting discussion on Jersey City politics, an honest discussion with someone who seems to really care about the city, a moderator who has been around and is disgusted with what is occurring in politics in Jersey City. Watch if you are interested.

Interview with incumbent Steven Fulop for the Ward E/ Downtown JC municipal race

Jersey City Mural Arts Program

We found this on Draw and Quarter, an arts blog in Jersey City. It seems murals have taken off in Jersey City. Above is a new mural on Coles by Hudson County Arts Supply. Very nice. We need lots more of this.