Tuesday, January 31, 2006

The State of the Union and the Democratic Response

(DBK at Blanton's and Ashton's reports)--
This year's State of the Union Address will feature a new wrinkle in the Democratic response to the speech: live blogging.

Three Democratic members of Congress will live blog their response following the speech. That means you, the voters, will be able to leave comments at the web logs where they give their response and hold a dialogue with these members of Congress. If you've been wanting to voice your opinion and know that someone is listening, this is your chance.

The live blogging will take place as follows:

* Congressman Rush Holt (NJ-12) live blogging at Bluejersey.net
* Congressman Frank Pallone (NJ-6) at New Jersey for Democracy
* Congressman Jim McDermott (WA-7) at Washblog

The exact time when they will show up at the blogs is not known, but they will start within half an hour of the end of the State of the Union, so please be patient if they don't get there immediately. In fairness, they'll need time to write what they want to say to begin with. Join the congressmen at any of these blogs, even if you are not one of their constituents, and see what a real electronic Town Hall Meeting is like.
Note: The list is growing: Congressman Tim Ryan of Ohio will be at mydd.com as well.

Monday, January 30, 2006

How Medicaid Saved My Life (redux)

It is with some trepidation that i share with you all a story about how Medicaid saved my life. But given the current political climate, this message is an important one, so here I go.....

In february 2003, after a decade-long battle against methamphetimine use, I finally sought out treatment. At the time, I was woefully under-insured and those twenty-eight days that i spent in a drug treatment facility in West Philly simply would not have been possible without the assistance of Medicaid. As I sit here and type away, I definitely consider myself lucky to have nearly 3 years sober and a new lease on life. But in retrospect, it seems doubly lucky that i got help when I did. I remember how my doctors and drug councelors repeatedly stressed durning rehab that "these types of places and treatment options simply may not be here a year from now!" I have to admit, that grim prospect seemed unlikely to me then, yet looking back, those warnings have mostly come true. And the republican plan to slash Medicade funding in a feeble attempt to balance the budget will only make things worse for the low income Americans.

Like many addicts, I come from an alcoholic background. Both my grandfathers & my father returned from WAR with substance abuse issues. It remains my firm belief that their wartime experiences contributed mightily to their tendancy towards alcoholism.

With ~15o,ooo American troops in Iraq and Afganistan, it seems reasonably certain that many will return stateside with a predisposition for chemical dependance. AT A TIME WHEN WE SHOULD BE SPARING NO EXPENSE TO PREPARE FOR THIS EVENTUALITY, THE REPUBLICAN-LED CONGRESS WANTS TO FIX ITS BUDGET MESS BY DENYING LOW INCOME AMERICANS ACCESS TO DRUG TREATMENT.

A rather galling lack of priorities if you ask me, but this example highlights the moral imperative of keeping Medicaid off of Congress' chopping block. After all we ask of Vets and their families, for us to NOT provide a robust network of social services for them is SHAMEFUL! It's also terribly unpatriotic.

I urge you to contact your members of congress and give them an earful. Don't be timid to harass these guys, remember they work for you. If you're not sure how to contact your voice on Capital Hill, check out this link, click on your state and that state's congressional contact info will appear.
bookmark that link!!!!
(This is a re-post of an entry I did a few months ago when no one read my blog:D)

Hey CUPID...........

Is that Hamas in your quiver or are you just excited to see me?
(Image courtesy of the imcomprable Clay Bennett and the Christian Science Moniter)

Interview With Democratic NJ Congressman Rush Holt

(BlueJersey.net reports)--by: DBK
January 29, 2006 at 12:24:51 EST An interview with Congressman Rush Holt of New Jersey will be available as a podcast at Bluejersey.net on Monday, January 30. Subscribe to the podcast now and listen to a fascinating discussion that goes to the heart of issues of the day.
Congressman Rush Holt on the war in Iraq and Homeland Security:
"I have found no one who actually feels safer, and can demonstrate that she or he is safer, because of our war in Iraq."

On warrantless domestic surveillance:

"I see no justification for the program that the White House has described. I see no reason to have an ongoing spying mechanism against Americans...now you have some functionary in the NSA, or worse, some political appointee in the White House, deciding whose phone is going to be tapped, whose email is going to be bugged, whose life is going to be invaded."

On presidential overreach and whether Congress should have limited White House power when authorizing the Iraq fiasco:
"The majority leadership certainly dropped the ball on this."

On the question of "Where are the Democrats?":
"I think there are many Democrats who are standing up and fighting...Jim McDermott, Louise Slaughter, there are a number of us who are standing up, who are speaking out. But remember, we are in the minority."

Congressman Holt is refreshingly honest, something his constituents have learned to expect from the transplanted West Virginian and former assistant director of the Plasma Research Laboratory at Princeton University. He doesn't speak in sound-bites, but tells the whole story with exceptional clarity.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

A Bird in the Hand is Worthless in the Bush (Administration)

As the saying goes, a piture is worth 1,ooo words.
(Courtesy of Clay Bennett)

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Reflections of a Military Brat

Yesterday I heard a fascinating a story on NPR (co produced by Youth Radio) about young soldiers, sailors and Marines who are seeking to move up financially by getting married, in some cases to complete strangers. At first blush this idea seems bizarre and curious, but as Sophie Simon Ortiz points out describing one Marine's story:
By getting married, he would get a housing stipend and permission to move off base. And as his legal wife, she would get health coverage and a cut of his extra money. Benefits like these are standard throughout the U.S. military. Married service people can sometimes get more than 1,000 bucks extra every month to support their dependants. And spouses share some of the most comprehensive health benefits out there. At a time when more than 30% of young Americans are uninsured, that makes marriage look pretty good! Even if love's got nothing to do with it.
According to Ortiz, this trend is on the rise. And considering how little military service personal get paid, this sounds like a remarkably progressive arrangement!! Dr. Morton Ender, a sociology professor at West Point agrees :
If I were a commander and someone came to me and said, "Sir, I don’t necessarily love my spouse but we got married for financial reasons, " I don’t necessarily think a commander would have recourse against that. There’s not a rule in America that says (heterosexuals) can’t get married for financial reasons.
Now this got me thinking about my own experience growing up in the 1980's, son of a career Marine. Looking back it was a great childhood, being a military brat. Sure, we moved every three years, but that seemed normal. In fact, I find myself feeling a bit nostalgic as I recall what a good life it was. There were lots of advantages.

First of all, every post we lived on had a pool, golf course, tennis courts, gyms, soccer fields et al. Having safe and abundant places to play is an ideal environment for any kid to grow up in. Also, the Department of Defense provided my brother (Adam) and me with a first-rate primary school education. I went to school on base until 8th grade and recall being challenged academically that whole time. My classmates and I had access to top-flight facilities and equipment and we all enjoyed access to robust arts, athletic, and after-school programs.
I did after-school gymnastics, played soccer and was in the band. As I recall whenever the band would perform we'd usually do patriotic numbers and maybe one or two other tunes. One year, in 5th or 6th grade, we did a program which included the anthems of all four branches of the military followed with the theme from "Ice Castles" for the finale. How funny is that?

Anyway, there was also a strong focus on the emotional needs of "student-brats." For example, students whose fathers were deployed abroad got to join the "overseas club." The group would meet twice a week and have a chance to talk about how we were coping having Dad away from home. Military kids are a hearty and precocious bunch, mostly we coped just fine . But the idea that there were social workers there for us seems reassuring in retrospect. My Dad spent about 1/2 time overseas, usually in Okinawa, Japan or South Korea. All credit to my Mom who did an awesome job raising my brother and me while Dad was off defending the country. At least my parents never had to worry if Adam and I were getting a good education. They knew we were. Money couldn't have bought a better education. I am grateful for that. Afterall, my education was a teesny part of Ronald Reagan's Coldwar defense budget. That's your tax dime.

I suspect Mom and Dad also took great comfort knowing that if we got sick, we'd be covered. Growing up, healthcare was never a problem for my family. In fact, we were covered from head to toe: doctor visits and prescriptions, eyeglasses and contact lenses, full dental, hospitalization and even my braces were included! When my little brother was diagnosed with juevenile diabetes at age 6 my folks were able to focus on getting him the best care they could find without having to worry about how to pay for the care he needed. Can you imagine a health care package like that today? It seems inconceivable! My father earned these benefits with his service to the country of course, but it still seems like one helluva safety net.

Keep in mind I grew up during the Reagan Administration and (unlike George W. Bush today) it was an era when little expense was spared to accommodate the needs of Veterans, active duty servicemembers and their families. I believe my family managed to cope so well with the hardships like moving all the time and being sepatated because we were taken care of by the military village.

I certainly hope that President Bush will realize the moral and patriotic imperative of taking care of our men and women in uniform and their families and Veterans the way President Reagan in the old days. When I read stories like this of War Veterans losing benefits, it really bums me out. It makes me wonder if the "overseas club" even exits anymore.

I went to this school 4th-6th grade while my Dad was stationed at Parris Island, S.C. in the mid 80's.
Photo courtesy of the Department of Defense website.

Peace and Semper Fi

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

On Easter, Bonnets and Gay Men’s Baskets

(Vince at Welcome To My Truth Reports)--
I usually don’t do much to celebrate Easter. I don’t go to Mass. I don’t hunt for eggs. I don’t reflect on the image of a crucified Jesus coming back from the dead to save my soul. Like most holidays, I usually spend Easter alone on the couch with my three remote controls and a plethora of viewing options.

But this year, I've decided to hop a plane to Washington D.C. and join the pastel merrinment on the White House lawn for the annual Easter Egg Roll.

Now before you get all up in arms and denounce me as a Bush-loving super Christian, let me explain. This year gay rights organizations are urging gays and lesbians to bring their children to partake in the patriotic fun of the religious holiday. In doing so, gay rights leaders are hoping to show the White House that these families are no different from the stuffy Republican families who will undoubtedly show up in droves.

And I plan to be there.

Can’t you just see it? I’ve already got the perfect pink ensemble picked out, complete with lace, ruffles and a very elegant Easter bonnet. Besides, I’m a sucker for rolling eggs. Especially if gay men and their baskets are involved.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Reasons I Love New Jersey

A work in progress.
(Feel free to add your reasons, too. Constructive criticism welcome)

Asbury Park & Sandy Hook
These are my favorite spots at the Jersey Shore. Asbury Park (of Springsteen fame) has seen better days, but's no question it's on the way back. This beachtown has a funky, progressive tenor that's hard to resit, the first time I visited I felt at home. Any town with a lesbian mayor gets my vote. *( Ashbury Park's "beach cam")

Sandy Hook gets the nod because here's a beach where you can hang out naked & smoking pot with a view of the Manhattan skyline. Nuff said?

Full Service Gas
Most folks don't know this but in NJ there's some rule prohibiting self-service at the gas station. So we get full service treatment at self-service prices. What can be cooler that that? I think gas stations do this for insurance purposes, but whatever the reason it's real easy to get spoiled, especially in winter. The last time I had to pump my own gas out-of-state I had no idea what I was doing. It was then I realized how soft I've become.

Location and More Location
I live about fifteen minutes from Philly, 1 1/2 hours from New York City, 2 hours from DC, and an hour from the shore. If you're a day-tripper like I am, you see why NJ is perfect.

Progressive Politics
Our Governor and both US Senators all are Democrats. Additionally, both houses of state government enjoy a comfortable liberal majority. More importantly, the people here tend to celebrate progressive values and ideals. Don't like it liberal? Hey, there's always room in Texas!

Saturday, January 21, 2006

What Superhero are YOU? (I'm the Flash!)

Click here to take the Superhero personality test!
*Fast, Athletic, Flirty

Green Lantern-----70%
Wonder Woman----54%
Iron Man-----------48%
Cat Woman---------31%

Those numbers seem about right for me. I've always loved the Flash& Spiderman and was pretty ambivilant about Batman. I'm glad to see that I am 14% more of a "Superman" than "Supergirl." (Not that there's anything wrong with Supergirl. Now that i think about it, why isn't she called Superwoman?)
How does your personality profile translate into the Superhero world?

Domestic Partner Benefits to Laurel Hester

Ocean, NJ ( BlueJersey reports)--

by: jmelli
January 21, 2006 at 10:00:26 EST
"This is one of the happiest days of my life...I feel like David conquering Goliath," said Laurel Hester on Saturday morning.

After nearly a year of refusing to grant Lt Laurel Hester the right to pass her pension benefits on to her partner, Ocean County's freeholders will finally grant Hester her dying wish when they vote on Wednesday.

Steven Goldstein of Garden State Equality: "Truth be told, we did lose hope for a reversal in the last couple of weeks. We had applied all the pressure in the world, embarrassing the freeholders and few public servants had ever been embarrassed before in the state of New Jersey or in this country, and they would not budge. Finally they did. Hallelujah! There is a God....Now that the Ocean County freeholders have done the right thing, we thank them with all our hearts and welcome them to the New Jersey of the 21st Century, where compassion and common-sense prevails over hatred and outmoded homophobia."

The change of heart came after the freeholders had a political meeting with other Republican leaders in the county.

Freeholder James Lacey: "I think we're doing the right thing now. I feel comfortable."

But there's more:

In addition, state Sen. Andrew Ciesla, R-Ocean, has asked the state Office of Legislative Services to prepare a bill he will sponsor that will eliminate the difference in the pension inheritance rights of members of the police and fire retirement system and other state public employee retirement systems.

I want to thank the freeholders for deciding to do the right thing before Laurel dies. Today is a monumental victory for civil rights. Justice prevailed over bigotry, and a Laurel Hester can die in peace knowing she left the world better than she found it.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Being HIV+ Has it's Advantages........

...bitterly ironic as that must sound.
Take last year's flu-shot shortage as an example. Last thing any of us want is a nasty influenza, right? While everyone was wondering how they were gonna get theirs, I got my flu-vac a week before flu-season began. I guess in retrospect the shortage wasn't all that bad, but there was a lot of anxiety swirling abound leading into flu season. I had no such worries, although i do recall a twinge of guilt. (Who's giving up theirs so i can get mine?)
Anyway, today was the first time I refilled my meds in the new year. Needless to say the pharmacy was a madhouse, thanks in large part to the implimentation of Bush's new goofy prescription drug plan. So now I'll get back to my original point of HIV having some bizarre advantages. I've been on meds for like 10 years and during that period my health insurance situation changes several times. At times I 've been totally covered, other times (like now) woefully underinsured and even a year with no coverage at all. At no point in the past 10 years have I ever had a problem getting my meds. Even during the lean times when I leaned on public assistance assistance ("welfare"), getting meds was never the challenging part. Would you believe it is because of (rather than in spite of) my HIV status that I am ensured continuity each and every time I go to the pharmacy??
I am not sorry that my trip get refills was quick-n-easy. But there were at least a dozen others milling about the pharmacy who were in various stages of the prescription- approval process. Most looked completely impatient and defeated. There were a few old folks there too, who probably were in the worst shape. I was too ashamed to even make eye contact with them.
But it was my pharamcist who really seemed bent over a barrel since Jan 1st. She sure seemed happy to see me.
"You're an easy one, Jay. " refering, of course to my 'script plan that come-what-may has been water-tight for the past decade. It's old-school style. Give her the script, walk away with the pills. No muss no fuss.
When I asked my phamacist how it's been since the curious Bush plan kicked in, she told me in no uncertain terms just how bad it was. She looked like hell, totally beat up. I felt awful for her. My business took about 5 minutes and as i was leaving i got some frustrated snears from the others whose prospects seem a lot more complicated than mine. "Yo! why didn't his require a phone call??!!" Little did they know, I'm an HIV-VIP.
Let's face it, HIV meds are BIG BUCKS!! I may be covered, but somewhere a drug company big-wig is smiling.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Welcome Sen. Menendez

Washington (Reuters reports)--Democrat Robert Menendez was sworn in as senator for New Jersey Wednesday, taking over the term of Jon Corzine, who was sworn in as governor this week.

Menendez, a 52-year-old seven-term congressman, faces a Senate election in less than 10 months, with possible primary challenges in the heavily Democratic state and then a possible challenge in the November election from Republican state Sen. Tom Kean, son of a popular former governor.

Corzine tapped Menendez to take over his Senate seat, skirting a special election. Democrat Frank Lautenberg holds New Jersey's other Senate seat.

Menendez, the son of Cuban immigrants, was the first New Jersey Latino in the state legislature and in Congress. He represented the state's 13th district and was the chairman of the House Democratic caucus.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Everything I Know About the Death Penalty, I Learned from Pope John Paul II

Last Wednesday, NJ lawmakers overwhelmingly voted to suspend executions while a task force studies the ethical issues and costs associated with imposing capital punishment. When Gov. Codey signs the measure on Monday, NJ becomes the third state behind Illinois and NY to suspend executions, but the first to do so through legislation. (the others were done by executive order.) The bill had bipartisam support in Trenton. Said Democrat Sen. Joseph Roberts, "The injustice of the current system, the steep price tag as well, means we ought to take a look at it." His Republican colleague Sen. Diane Allen went further, "We've heard about people who were put to death and (later) found innocent. We've looked at the cost, which is enormously more for someone on death row than for a person who's imprisoned for life without parole. In New Jersey, there has been a sea change in how people view the death penalty." While I appreciate that lawmakers need to factor the cost of any program into their decisions, I did find it curious that both Senators cited economic factors in their decision. I believe the most persuasive argument against the death penalty is a moral one.

I am against capital punishment and I feel it should be abolished. But that hasn't always been the case. Until a few years ago, I believed the state reserved the right to impose the death penalty on offenders who commit the most henious types of crimes. It wasn't until about three years ago when I heard a speech made by the late Pontiff John Paul II, that I began to re-evaluate my own position on this compicated matter.

At the time the Pope weighed in, I was skeptical that there would be much common ground between a liberal queer activist like me and the leader of the Catholic Church. I should note that I was raised Catholic and I always took a dim view of their rigid dogma, particularly concerning issues of sexuality. But when I heard Pope John Paul II discuss the death penalty in the context of forgiveness and vengance, I was moved to revisit the issue (and my own ideas of forgiveness.)

The Pope mentioned that support for the death penalty is generally rooted in desire for revenge. He acknowlegded the legitimate urge for justice, but suggested that justice can never be achieved through vengance. He admonished those who cite Biblical scripture to justify a pro-death penalty stance. According the the Pope, the oft-repeated proverb "an eye for an eye...." (Lev. 24:20) was not a recipe for vengance, rather to meant to serve as a cautionary tale against the escalation of violence in general. The Pope also pointed out that Jesus' position on the death penalty was clear: rather that reltaliation, we should "turn the other cheek" and extend our hand in healing, blessing, and forgiveness. (Matthew 5:38-55)

Rather that relying on a second-hand account of stuff I heard John Paul II say three years ago, I wanted to find some actual quotes from the Pope which support the values I've just described. It wasn't difficult. A Google search on the words "Pope John Paul + death penalty" turns up 641,ooo hits. The Vatican has its own website complete with an archive of transcripts from many Papal speeches and masses. (Who knew?) From paragraph 56 of Evangelium Vitae (Gospel of Life) Pope John Paul II states:
It's clear that for punishment to be achieved, the nature and extent of the punishment must be carefully evaluated and decided upon, and ought to not go to the extreme of executing the offender except when it would not be possible otherwise to defend society. Today however, such cases are practically non-existent.
The Pope advanced the argument that when a prisoner (who poses no threat to society) is executed, it sends the message that life is worthless, thus we can view the death penalty as an injustice to the sanctity of life. I share the Pope's belief that execution does not end with the death of the criminal, but affects each and every one of us living in a society which justifies capital punishment. I admit it's instinctively pleasing to jugde those who commit henoius crimes as worthless or "less-than" but we should resist this temptation. If we convince ourselves that some among us deserve death, then we forget that all of us deserve forgiveness and the grace to ammend our lives. Fighting violence with violence for the sake of vengance does not serve a useful role in this country. Nor does it allow society to cultivate less vengeful methods of dealing with violent crime.

A 1994 piece entitled Confronting a Culture of Corruption: A Catholic Framework for Action the American Conference of Catholic Bishops states:
Increasingly, our society looks to violent measures to deal with some of our most difficult social problems...including increased reliance on the death penalty to deal with crime. Violence is not the solution; is it the most clear sign of our failures. We can not teach that killing is wrong by killing.
As I mentioned, I spent a long time believing that capital punishment is justified in some cases. My change of heart occured when I heard the Pope issue a pretty bold and compelling statement condeming the death penalty. He basically suggested that those who take a pro-death penalty stance are generally folks who suffer from issues related to forgiveness. The fact is, at the time I was an angry young man with no ability to forgive others (or myself) for anything. Not that there were all these things to forgive, but I tended to err on the side of vengance whenever I felt threatened or slighted. In my case, the Pope was right: when I addressed my inablitiy to forgive, my feelings regarding the death penalty simply changed. I believe there is a strong correlation there.

Thinking back, I'm surprised I didn't respond defensively to the Pope's assertion, instead somehow managed to take his words to heart. I said earlier that my relationship with the Catholic Church is hardly a cozy one. That might have made it easy to dismiss the Pope out of hand. Instead, I had a "teachable moment" which has led me to a greater understanding of my own values.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Abramoff and the Hooker!

If you think the Republican Congress is not in bed with the Devil, you're wrong! Thanks to Bill Mitchell for this image.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Under Alito, Rights Are Finito! (Some Pics)

ACT-UP, still (thankfully) actin' up! I love these guys! Scroll down for the story!!!! Thanks to Peter Lien for the pix.

Today's Inquirer

Who is that masked man? There goes the neighborhood, so says today's Philadelphia Inquirer. Looks like I am still a media whore. Scroll down for the story on the event........

p.s I just came across this! The Bandoto makes it into Aussie press!

another pic ....

That's me again, this time out of bandit drag. Do you like my message? I am referring, of course to Sen. Rick Santorum who is the nastiest thing to come out of Pennsylvania since scrapple.
Thanks to good friend Peter Lien for this pic.

Under Alito, Rights are FINITO!!!

Last night's so called 'Justice Sunday' event was the latest attempt by the radical rightwing to impose their fundamentalist religious views onto the judicairy. With Sam Alito's Supreme Court comfirmation hearings scheduled to begin today in Washington DC, the Bush Administration is attempting to get a head start on the debate. Last night's event at an evangelical Baptist church in North Philly was the latest example of the right wing of the Republican Party trying to formulate its domestic agenda based on their fundamentalist religious ideologies. I should add that the service was broadcast to evangelical churches nationwide. So if you think the fundamentalists aren't deadly serious about imposing their morals on the rest of us, THINK AGAIN! Judging by what I saw, the rightwingers can try all the want to cast Alito is a positive light, but all their efforts prove is that it's impossible to polish a turd.

The idea of Sam Alito on the Supreme Court scares me. Here is a guy who has spent 15 years on the Federal Appeals Court in Philly making it his business to erode the civil liberties of Americans like me. Not only is he anti-choice, anti-affirmative action, and (most importanly to me) an unapologetic homophobe, but he has a proven track record that favors government authoritarianism. Here is a man who, in over 3oo written opinions, has never found government intrusion unconstitutional. Alito's record also indicated he supports expanding presidential power. As if Bush weren't already overreaching, as highlighted by his domestic spying policies.

While an A-list of hatemongers (including Jerry Falwell and Sen. Rick Santorum among others) was inside spewing their usual twisted brand of "compassionate conservatism" the real action was outside on the street. On a gorgeous winter night with temps in the 40's, a coalition of progressive organizations took over several blocks of Broad Street surrounding the church. I was among the protesters and it was apparent to me that our movement is gathering steam. In a nutshell, our message is if we wanted to live in a nation rooted in religious fanaticism, then we'd move to Iran!! According to one fellow protester's sign, "Universal healthcare is a family value, too!" Another sign said simply, "Pray for Common Ground!" Amen to that sister, although I suspect that neither side is in the mood to be pragmatic at this point. Such is the sad state of politics in the country. Thanks especially to Bush's policy, the country is more polarized than ever.

Halfway through the protest, ACT UP stopped the show (and traffic, I might add) with their grand entrance complete with torches, drums, and whistes. When it come to civil disobediance with a dramatic flair, no one does it better than ACT UP!!! Their message was an assult on Bush's healthcare and AIDS policies. According to an ACT UP member, a lifetime confirmation of Sam Alito to the Supreme Court would ensure Bush's hateful legacy of bad healthcare policy, long after Bush is out of the Whitehouse.

I have been to dozens of protests during the Bush Administration and I have to say that last night was an eye opener. I noticed that people are finally starting to get really really pissed at the direction this country is taking. Folks are so mad that activists are having a much easier time organizing these types of events. I also noticed that when folks drive past and honk their support, it's not just a 'toot-toot,' rather they are laying on the horn and frenetically pumping their fists in support. I know support is growing against Bush (and by extention, Alito) and I can say this for sure because last night I experienced it for myself. As a committed activist who is in it for the long haul, I take great comfort and encourgement from what I saw last night on the streets of Philadelphia.
Thanks to my pal Monique for the cool picture above. To check out more pics of the event, check out her site and see for yourself!

Saturday, January 07, 2006

What Would Jesus Think?

The more I learn about tommorow's so called Justice Sunday III in Philadelphia, the more I feel I need a shower. I learned of the event from my friend Monique who is organizning a protest to coincide with the event. Justice Sunday, as described by Max Blumenthal on the Huffington site is:
Seeking to continue his image makeover while advancing the case for the (Senate) confirmation of (Supreme Court Nominee) Samuel Alito, who would by all accounts roll back civil rights, Tony Perkins has staged Justice Sunday III at a black church in inner-city Philadelphia. And he has assembled three black speakers to sermonize by his side, including Martin Luther King's Jr.'s niece, Alveda King. Judging from their past statements and activities, it looks like these figures been providing cover for racial reactionaries for the entire span of their careers. This Sunday will be no exception.
Also headlining tomorrow's hatefest: PA Senator Rick Santorum, Jerry Falwell, and James Dobson. A veritable A-list of radicals who wish to advance their fundamentalist religious ideals into public policy. Why on earth else would they be stumping for the Alito appointment to the Supreme Court?
The good news is the massive protest which is scheduled simultaneously. Since Alito represents such a threat to the rights of so many kinds of folks, there will be a huge turnout. In fact, I already got a zillion emails from folks asking me if I know about it. I live right outside Philly in Cherry Hill NJ , I'll be there with a few friends around 6pm. (If you're reading this and you happen to be local, then check out this link for info on tomorrow evening's protest as well as a map to get you there.)
In the meantime you simply must read Max Blumenthal's artice in its entirely which is a provocative take on tomorrow's Alito rally. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll ask yourself "why?" Anyway, this Blumenthal says is better than I could, and i need to get to organizing for this rally.

Karma's a Bitch!

Looks like Republican Congressman Tom Delay's ethical lapses have finally caught up with him. The embattled Texan has just conceded his position of majority leader, clearing the way for a new house leadership vote. Delay's fellow republicans have been chattering about new leadership and the rank and file seem eager to shed the glare of Delay's ethical missteps. Delay was indicted late last year on campaign finance charges and the trial is moving forward. In a year from now, i doubt Delay will on Capital Hill, in fact he'll be lucky if he's not in jail.

Friday, January 06, 2006

New Jersey Breathes Cleaner

It is nice to see the NJ State legislators making progress with a proposed ban on smoking in public spaces , save casinos. An Assembly committee sent the bill to the full Assembly where approval is expected early next week. The State Senate has already approved the proposed legislation and Gov. Dick Codey seems eager to sign the bill into law. By doing so, NJ will become the 11th state in the nation to enact similar legislation. I should add kudos to our Governor, who repeatedly expressed his desire to make the smoking ban a part of his legacy.

I was living in California when the very first anti-smoking ban in the nation kicked in on New Years day, 1998. I was a cigarette smoker at the time and I was quick to gripe about the new law to anyone who'd listen. In fact, I especially resented the idea of not being about to smoke at a bar or restaurant. Smoking seemed like such an integral part of the "going out" experience, for me. But you know what, I was wrong. It wasn't long before my attitude on the smoking ban softented considerably. In fact, I ended up smoking less and eventually gave it up. Personally, I'm grateful to the politicians in California who created a climate that encouraged me to smoke less and ultimately quit.

A state-wide smoking ban might seem like a big adjustment, especially to bar and restaurant owners who claim that such a ban might keep customers away. But we'll get used to it here in New Jersey, just like folks in California, Deleware or New York did. A year from now, once the dust settles, the nay-sayers might actually see a bounce in business as they begin to court the non-smokers who have been staying away.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Nixon Minus Brains Equals Bush

Thanks Tom Tomorrow for this clever image. I was born during the Nixon Administration. I reckon that makes me pretty old by now. *sigh*

Queer Eye on the Bad Guy

Have you been following the Jack Abramoff affair? If not, he has admitted to felonies in DC and in Florida. A fellow blogger offers some fashion advice for the disgraced lobbyist as does the Washington Post. What's with the fedora anyway?

AP Photo

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

National Security Agency Has Several Rows of Teeth

All the better to gobble up (and ultimately poop out) our civil liberties, I reckon . Anything in the name of the war on terror, so says the Bush Administration. I hope the actually terrorists feel as threatened as I do. I am an American and I resent the idea of being spied on. Thanks to Bill Mitchell for the use of this image.