Sunday, April 30, 2006

Power to the People! (more pics from the March for Peace)

More shots from yesterday's March for Peace, Justice and Democracy....

I just can't get over the look on my face in this top shot. Can you tell from the smirk that I am feeling the wind and my back? What a feeling! This second pic was of me and my new friend Janette from Brooklyn. By the middle of the march Monique (see bottom pic) and I had adopted her as the 3rd member of our troika. It was that kind of day. Whoever you happened to be standing next to was your friend. Monique is a bigger media whore than I am. Her firebrand method of activism works because she's the real deal. And since she always has a camera, I always seem to have an archivist. Whereever I go to fight the good fight--NYC, Philly, Washington --I know I'll find her. She'll be the one wearing the funny and provocative hat!

Pics and memories from the March for Peace Justice and Democracy in New York

It massive, beautiful and powerful. There is little more I can say. But for those of you who weren't there, yesterday's event--which drew a staggering 3oo,ooo marchers and revelers (see pic)-- was one of the most emotional and memorable days I've had in a long time. I remember walking down Broadway and at one point turning around and seeing the spectacular crowd behind me and it moved me to tears. At that point on the route i was at the bottom of a hill and noticed for the first time the massive breadth this mob. There is something very powerful indeed about the 'crowd phenomenon.' Seeing that many people swaying to to the same beat on such a picture-perfect day blew me away. I get goose bumps just thinking about it.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I managed to get credentials for the press conference. Aparently the world is waking up to the power of the Blog, if I can get up close and personal with the likes of Cindy Sheehan, Susan Sarandon, Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton. Yup, pretty much a mad liberal cabal you might say and there I was, knee deep in the heart of this thing covering it for the blog-o-shere.

But yesterday's march cut across all demographic lines: veterans, hippies, young, old, men, women, gays, straights, Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddists, pagans, blacks, whites, et al.

Some of the most powerful messages were from the Iraq vetrans themselves.(see pic) Here is a group of Americans who put their ass on the line in the Iraq War, which is why what they have to add to this debate REALLY matters. The Vets had the crowd in a frenzy with the bootcamp marching-in-formation chants they reworked for the occasion. Talk about a showstopper.
At one point I ran into my friend Monique, from Philly. By that point I was sufficenty swallowed up in the mob and it was great to see a familiar face. Monique is hell on wheels, I see her everywhere. All images herein come courtesy of her talents. She snapped this one of me (see pic) and you can see by the shit-eating grin on my face that I am completely absorbed in the moment. I wish I could do that more often, capture the feelings of yesterday. It was that special.

Three hours after the parade of began, the last of the marches had finally poured into lower Manhattan's Foley Square Park. By this point the atmosphere had turned decidedly festive. It took on the air of a Grateful Dead show minus the acid and balloons. We didn't need drugs. We were high enough on life. I'll let that one linger.

After mingling with everyone and anyone, I came across some gay hippies with body paint and so I stripped down and got painted up. There was dancing and street theater and singing and all that Kumabaya stuff. It was one of those times I was having so much fun I didn't want to leave. Not even to pee. Finally I could wait to longer and on my way the the Port-o-Potty, I came across this man and his sign, which to me was the most evocative of the entire day. (see pic)
Needless to say it stopped me dead in my tracks. Here is a man mourning the death of his 20-year-old Marine son, Alexander Arredondo and reminding the crowd of the real costs of war. I have to admit that I felt foolish, all painted up and in a festive mood. But when Mr. Arrendondo and I made eye contact I somehow felt as though I understood his heart and his pain completely. Such was the overwhelming feeling of solidarity that graced us all yesterday. My father was a career Marine and Vet. The image of this young man lying in a casket while wearing his dress blues looking peaceful and handsome and brave just ripped my heart out. Another weepy moment, to be sure.

I would not have missed yesterday for the world. I was proud to take part and I am proud to be a liberal. And for the record, the event was sponsored by a huge coalition of organizations such as the Labor Movement, NOW, civil rights groups, environmentalists, student groups, and Veterans. So as we all come down off yesterday's buzz, we can look to November (and election day) with a completely energized base. That will be the long term legacy of yesterday's march.

P.s. It's rare that such a massive crowd could feel this intimate. On that note,a special shout out to Phillip and Janette who are a big part of what made yesterday so special. If I never see you guys again, thanks for keeping me company!

Friday, April 28, 2006

Press Credential!! *SNAP*

I am headed to Manhattan tomorrow for the March for Peace, Justice and Democracy. (Or as my partner Greg calls it "the million hippie march.") Our mission at tomorrow's event: End the war in Iraq -- Bring all our troops home now! No war on Iran! Stand up for immigrant and women's rights! Basically, progressive tenents of common sense. Organizers are calling for a massive crowd.

The coolest news is that I managed to get a press pass to cover the event. This is quite a feat since i am only a blogger, but I filled out the press credentials form and used "Lassiter Space" and BlueJersey as my "media organization." So I can get into all the press conferences and get some good access throughout the day. I am so excited I can hardly stand it. ME?? PRESS CREDENTIALS?? If I play my cards right maybe I'll be hangin' with Reverends Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, sharing a Remy Martin? Or is that too ambitious?

Anyway, I am bringing a digital recorder tomorrow to the Big Apple. It'll be archiving and, of course, blogging with pictures and interviews.

ABOVE: Manchester, UK, JAMES THORNE, British Army tank commander & Northern Ireland Vet, shows his "Full Monty" to passers-by as he speaks out against the war!
I suspect there will be many such characters at tomorrow march, which will culminate with a big ol' party in Foley square from 1-6pm. (see map)

Tomorrow's forcast is for a picture perfect day! And ending the Iraq Was is a good enough reason as any. Interested? Then join us!

In ~944 days, we'll have a new president

But if Bush keeps up at this abysmal rate, maybe it'll be sooner?

Honestly, rather than impeachment, I'd just like the see the President do a good job. But enough about my fantasies. How do you feel about George Bush?

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Oil execs popping champagne, Americans popping antacids

Exxon just announced the biggest profit in corporate history: $8,400,000,000. These earnings come on the back of outgoing Exxon CEO Lee Raymond's four hundred million dollar retirement package. What are you paying to fill up your tank, by the way?

It's worth nothing that gasoline was $1.40 a gallon when President Bush was elected. It's now well over $3. Wasn't Bush's Iraq folly supposed to make gas cheaper?
(Images credit:

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Lassiter Space turns 1o,ooo!

Shortly aften noon, the 1o,oooth unique visitor logged onto my site from Atlantic Beach, Fla. It took 5 months to hit that mark and it's been a fun ride so far.

On to the next milestone: 1oo,ooo!

Gay youth make a Statement with their Silence

Approximately 500,000 students from about 4,000 schools took part in the 10th annual National Day of Silence today. The event is a project of the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (GLSEN) in collaboration with gay-straight alliances nationwide. Instead, they will wear red tape across their mouths and hand out cards explaining their silence as part of the National Day of Silence protesting the discrimination gay youths face. Says GLSEN cofounder Kevin Jennings:
On the Day of Silence, hundreds of thousands of students across America will use silence to voice the truth about anti-LGBT bullying and harassment in America’s schools, The tremendous numbers of students who take part in the Day of Silence is cause for celebration and a loud message from America’s students that we must work harder to ensure safe and effective schools for every child.
GLSEN also released the results of a survey which indicate that 2/3 of the students taking part in today's event have been harassed in school for being gay.

Added Jennings, "Schools aren't a safe place for a lot of these young people. And if you don't feel safe, you can't learn."

I knew Kevin Jennings back in the mid 90's when he was starting GLSEN. He once told me that he envisioned a future where every child learn to respect and accept all people, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. He was a teacher at the time and he devoted the next dozen or so years seeing that vision through. Gay kids nationwide owe Kevin Jennings a debt of gratitude, for making their cause his life's work.

During my Harvard days (circa 1993), I took a class called "Gay Issues in Education'' taught by prominent gayologist Dr. Arthur Lipkin. This was around the same time that former Mass. Gov. William Weld implemented a "safe schools" program that put anti-gay discrimination on par with racial discrimination within the public schools in Massachusetts. Basically it meant calling a kid a "faggot" would have the same gravitas as the N-word, for example. This is about the same time Kevin was getting GLSEN off the ground. Anyway the field work for the Harvard class was to research the efficacy of the safe school plan. Did Gov. Weld's program make schools safe for gay and lesbian youth? You betcha. In fact, Bill Weld remains my favorite republican politician ever. He was a moderate guy acting his conscience to protect gay kids.

But is would come back to haunt him. When Bill Clinton nominated Gov. Weld as ambassador to Mexico, N.C. Senator (and gay hater) Jesse Helms pissed all over the nomination hearings thus denying Gov. Weld the Mexico City post. Ahhhh the Clinton Administration...But I digress!

Anyway, the idea of half a million gay kids coming together nationwide to make a statement of strenght and solidarity is a wonderful thing. I recently wrote about the next generation of progressive activists who are standing up and being counted. It warms my heart! Hats off to the brave young gays (and their allies) who took part into today's event.
(cross-posted at BlueJersey)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The World according to Sen. Rick Santorum and Tony Soprano

(Will Bunch at ATTYTOOD reports)--
The Daily News -- proud winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, just not in this particular year.

We were going to give Rick Santorum a break for the next 24 hours or so, but this nugget from Dan Gross is too good to pass up:

SEN. RICK Santorum and HBO's fictional mob boss Tony Soprano have a lot in common.

On Sunday night's episode of "The Sopranos," Tony (James Gandolfini) told his shrink Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) that when it comes to homosexuality, he agrees with "that Sen. Sanatorium, who says if we let this stuff go too far, pretty soon we'll be f---ing dogs." Santorum, several years back, made similar remarks, only he used more delicate language than Tony did.

We called Santorum's office yesterday to ask if he was flattered about getting a shout-out on a popular show.

Apparently not.

"We're not gonna dignify that comment by commenting on it," said Santorum communications director Rob Traynham.

The Sopranos is wrapping up its final season on HBO this year. And the good people of Pennsylvania have the chance to vote Santorum into retirement. So for now we need to stop and smell the Rick and Tony....before they're gone!

It's worth noting that Santorum's spokesman Rob Traynham happens to be gay and black. I can't imagine what that must be like, working for Sen. Santorum who's regarded by this blogger as the most caustic and hateful voice on Capital Hill.

Maybe Ricky's got a Mandingo fantasy?

Monday, April 24, 2006

More Republican FUZZY MATH

If you listen to President Bush and the Republican Congress, they tell you the economy is great.

Who's economy are they talking about?
(Image courtesy John Trevor)


More proof that (I am still) the consummate media whore!

Lately, I've been in the Washington Post (writing in about consumer debt), the NY Times (the Iraq War) the Trenton Times (flu shot shortage) as well as my local rag. I've also been on the BBC (talking about the Danish cartoon-of-Muhammad thing) and ESPN (figure skating.)

Clearly these media outlets are not very picky, given they let me talk about such a wide variety or stuff from gardening to sports to relationships. I'm hardly an expert on such a broad rage of topics! Getting on these shows is easy. All I do is call 'em up and weigh in. It's the same as a letter to the editor. Just shoot 'em a note! Anyone with a point of view and a little initiative can be a part of the debate, no matter what the topic. You shoud try it!

Last week was especially fruitful:

*I called into WHYY's Radio Times Show where to topic was "What men really think about?"
(From their website: We talk NEIL CHETHIK author of "VoiceMale: What Husbands Really Think About Their Marriages, Their Wives, Sex, Housework, and Commitment." Among his findings Chethik says the happier women are with the division of housework, the happier men are with their sex lives.) Listen to the whole show via Real Audio Listen to my 4 minute segment here:
this is an audio post - click to play

*Later I managed to finagle myself into the pages of Sports Illustrated with a little tennis commentary!

*And back on the radio this morning on NPR's gardening show ("You Bet Your Garden") chatting about home made mulch and compost. It was the show's seventh anniversary and it was great to be invited! Listen to my 4 1/2 minute segment here:
this is an audio post - click to play

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Young Progressive Activists on the march in South Jersey

The more I learn about the upcoming generation of progressives, the more I love what I see. Courier Post reports:
Despite a persistent drizzle, about 200 local high school students, staff and parents took to the streets to promote peace Saturday. Summit Up, an all-day event planned by students of Rancocas Valley Regional High School, started with a peace rally. Groups departed from locations in each of the school's five sending districts -- Mount Holly, Eastampton, Westampton, Hainesport and Lumberton. The event's keynote speaker was the Rev. Vernon C. King, nephew of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
Said Michelle Caffrey, a junior from Westhampten "To hear from Martin Luther King's nephew was just amazing. That was a real moving experience."

Other fresh young voices sounded just as encouraging. eleventh-grader Kelly Behrend of Eastampton, who started Students Taking Action and Responsibility Today (ST.A.R.T.) the group behind yesterday's event said, "We want to promote peace. We don't want that to be confused with anti-war. We're not anti-anything. We try to have a positive outlook."
To that I say "Bravo young sister!"

Courier Post:

With help from Tom Braddock, who teaches a popular class on the history of nonviolence and its major figures like King and Mahatma Gandhi, the roughly 100 students in S.T.A.R.T. raised about $15,000 to put on the free event.

"I think this has a lot of potential to become bigger, maybe in the next couple of years," said senior Danielle Firth of Lumberton.

Reading about these kids--and their fresh perspective--is encouraging, to say the least.

Raising a hand in a peace sign, soon-to-be NJ-3 voter Steven Carty of Mount Holly marches toward Rancocas Valley Regional High School for a peace summit.
(photo credit: MARCIN SZCZEPANSKI/Courier-Post)

Crossposted at Bluejersey

Saturday, April 22, 2006

slow news day

(i forget where i found this, but credit to them anyway!)

Friday, April 21, 2006

My lunch date with Jane Fonda

I was seven years old when the movie 9-to-5 came out in 1980. It remains my favorite movie of all time. Go figure. I especially loved the story's heroines played by Lily Tomlin, Dolly Parton, and Jane Fonda. (see image of the trio cooking up their coup over margaritas and Maui Wowie.)

When I found out that Jane Fonda (or as my dad would say, "that communist witch") was at University of Pennsylvania yesterday for a book signing, I had to check it out. Especially since I was on campus to begin with, helping an old college chum with some anthropology field work. (seriously!)

No matter how you feel aboout Miss Jane, she's totally iconic and bound to conjure up a strong image. For me, it's of course 9to5, for some it's her workout videos, for many it's the memory of her on the cannon in North Vietman. Some even remember Jane Fonda as a two-time Oscar champ.

I arrived at the UPenn bookstore and quickly notice that Miss Jane had drawn quite a crowd. She was giving a talk which would have been fine had I not heard the exact same pitch on NPR earlier that morning. But I could listen twice. She really is interesting, and I am not saying that just because I'm liberal. Remember she's still the star of my favorite move ever.

The best part was the Q. & A. session afterwards. Naturally I had my hand up quickly. I swear to God it happened just like this:
Jane Fonda: Yes, young man in the green!

Me: Hi Jane and weclome to Philly. You looke fantastic.

Jane Fonda: You look fantastic, too!

(now at this point I totally forget the clever thing I was gonna say....)

Me, nervously: Um, do you, um have any advise--based on your experiences --for peace activists of this generation?"

Jane Fonda: Yes. Men, find your heart! Women, find your voices! And work like hell to fight for what you believe. And keep doing it!"
I hate to paraphrase, but she went on to say that the Vietman peace movement really didn't get into high gear until after Watergate. Miss Jane told me that--more than the staggering death toll--it was the Nixon scandals that really gave the peace movement real traction.

It's encouraging to know that if I keep working for peace, eventually my labors will we vindicated and rewarded.

I believe that. Jane Fonda said so!

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Civilian leadership runs Military into the ground

I've written before about the joys of growing or military. That is perhaps why I feel so sensitive to the treatment the military gets from the Bush Administration.

And I am not taking about the 2o,ooo dead and broken soldiers from the Iraq war. That's another story.

We shouldn’t be balancing the budget on the backs of veterans which is what Bush and Co. wanna do. How patriotic is that?

But that's not all. According to the Air Force Times:
The number of veterans waiting for their first medical appointment in the veterans’ health care system has doubled in the last year. Since 2004, the number of newly eligible people waiting for appointments has increased by 400 percent.
If you ask someone to fight--and die--for you, then shouldn't you be willing to take care of their health care needs when they come back home?
(Image courtesy Daryl Cagle)

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Musical Chairs at the Whitehouse?

Looks like President Bush's press secretary is on the way out. Good riddance. Hopefully the Whitehouse can find a better looking spokesperson. Scott McClellan's ugly message was matched only by his ugly mug.

I wonder which cabinet member will be next. Secretary of treasury? Homeland Security?
You can actually bet on it here!! I'm NOT making this up, folks!
Odds on favorites (according to
Treasury Secretary John W. Snow 2/1
Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff 12/5
Health Secretary Michael O. Leavitt 7/2
Agriculture Secretary Mike Johanns 9/2
Interior Deputy Secretary Lynn Scarlett 11/2
Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld 6/1
Attorney General Alberto Gonzales 15/1
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice 35/1
(2nd image courtesy Ed Stein)

Residents of Cherry Hill NJ say YES to higher taxes and (hopefully) better schools

There's almost nothing you can say except thank you from the bottom of our hearts. The Cherry Hill district was at a crossroads. We had gotten to the point where we had taken all the cuts we could without cutting into the heart of the district -- teachers, textbooks, programs. The people stepped up and showed us how much they care about the kids.
--Cherry Hill Interim Superintendent Timothy Brennan

Yo, here's a novel suggestion: How about some assurances that you are committed to making good use of this money?

School funding is an emotional issue and for good reason. I suspect that most folks are sensitive to the need for good schools and I am especially grateful that Cherry Hill public schools are among the state's finest. After paying off my 5-figure property tax bill might I suggest that they should be good.

jay lassiter :: Residents of Cherry Hill say YES to higher taxes and (hopefully) better schools
Residents of Cherry Hill have historically been willing to pony up for schools and yesterday was a continuation of this trend. Courier Post reports:
The district proposed an 11.9-cent tax rate increase for 2006-07 in order to raise $132.24 million in local property taxes to help fund a $155.77 million spending plan. For the owner of a house assessed at the township average of $139,600, that will mean paying $166 more than last year in school taxes.
For my partner and me this means an additional ~$33o dollars on top of what we already pay. And there's more (Courier Post)
The district also asked voters in a second ballot question to approve an additional 4.4-cent tax rate hike in order to keep $4 million worth of student programs and staff positions that didn't make it into the basic budget. That will raise the tax increase for the average homeowner by another $61. The separate question included funding for 31 teachers and instructors across disciplines; six counselors; an environmental science field trip program; and athletic and co-curricular activities at the middle schools and high schools.
In fairness I should cofess that I voted NO on both counts and I did so because I can't afford to pay more than the $13,000 (and change) that I already fork over annually in property taxes. It wasn't a question of values for me, it was basic economic reality. I fancy myself a liberal progressive who regards education as a big priority. The bitter irony is that I may spend my entire adult life advocating to transform New Jersey into a socialist workers paradise only to be priced out of Cherry Hill in retirement.

While waiting to cast his vote on the new electronic voting machines my neighbor Saul Wollman summed up pretty well what many Cherry Hill folk are thinking when he quipped "(we're) not getting any state aid, this district, because people think we're too rich even though there are a lot of people here who aren't rich at all. It's time somebody in Trenton did something except sit."

Yesterday's election saw only one of the incumbent school board members (Sharon Giaccio) re-elected. Joining Ms. Giaccio: rookies Robert Russo and Mark Trentacoste who replace outgoing members James Johnson and William Carter III, on the losing end along with Jeffrey Kirk, Lisa Farkas and Thomas DePaul. I hope the new school board lineup can commit themselves to a sustainable, real-world solution to funding school that doesn't criple the people who live here.

As an aside, all the married couples in my neighborhood had signs in their yard urging folks to vote YES on the ballot initiatives and YES for the incumbents. Meanwhile, all the gays and empty nesters had placards that read NO to both. Hardly surprising how the battle lines came down on this one, huh?

Monday, April 17, 2006

How much of your taxes go to Haliburton?

How much do you owe?
Tax day reflections.....
Image courtesy Mike Thompson

Sunday, April 16, 2006

As gas prices climb to historic highs.....

One looks at this guy's chins and cigarette-stained teeth and it seems a reasonable bet that here's a guy who pays for sex. Take a long hard look at the picture and allow yourself to become thoroughly disgusted.

He's Exxon CEO Lee Raymond who is easing into his golden years with a $4oo,ooo,ooo retirement package, reportedly the largest in corporate history. According to Pam at the Houseblend, the deal includes
pension, stock options and other perks, such as a $1 million consulting deal, two years of home security, personal security, a car and driver, and use of a corporate jet for professional purposes.
Presumably the personal security detail is to keep some informed consumer from throwing a hot cafe latte in his face. Or worse.

$4oo,ooo,ooo. Maybe they could use some of that money to clean up that nasty Exxon oil spill that spoiled large swathes of Alaska in the 1980's? Remember that? 11,ooo,ooo gallons just to refresh your memory.

Think about that $4oo,ooo,ooo the next time you're filling up your tank. My most recent trip to to the pump set me back nearly forty-five bucks. And might I suggest that readers who drive consider an alternative to Exxon. I prefer Citgo of course, whose reveneus won't wind up in some fat cat (or Saudi prince's) pocket. Citgo is the American subsidiary of the Venezuelan national oil company and serves as a primary source for American enegry needs. Venezuela's oil reserves also provide considerable international gravitas for the country's president, Hugo Chavez.

President George Bush hates Hugo Chavez. That's good enough reason for me to buy Citgo gas. But think about it for a second: Hugo Chavez is a leftist and uses his country's oil wealth to pay for health care and college education for Venezuela's people. This equal distribution of wealth runs totally anti-thetical to Bush's fat cat capitalist mentality that puts $4oo,ooo,ooo in the pocket of one Exxon big wig who's so fat that he probably can't see his own penis.

And it really pisses me off.

Tax Day factoids to....ponder

Friday, April 14, 2006

Was your economy better in the 90's, too?

I just got my car filled up.
44 bucks.
Gas in New Jersey is generally about the cheapest in the nation which means this even worse elsewhere!
I checked to see what a barrel of oil is going for and was shocked to learn that yesterday's price of $70.20 was only sixty cents off the post-Katrina record. Now if you're like me and don't have an economics degree, condider this: a barrel of oil was going for twenty bucks five years ago. Wasn't the Iraq war supposed to make gas cheaper?

And speaking of the Iraq war, do you think it's a coincidence that I have not gotten a substantive tax refund since the war began? This year I am getting $50 which is barely enough to fill up my Hummer. (just kidding) Looking back, i recall getting a pretty nice return every year since I was a 16-year-old working at Wendy's. It was always enought to look forward to. I guess no matter how you feel about Bush's Iraq war, we can all at least agree that it's damn expensive.

But put my liberal politics aside and consider this: if you and I managed our finances the way the republican- led govenment has done with the federal budget, we'd be such toxic credit risks that we'd need a co-signer to get a cell phone! It's a shameful legacy to leave for our children and grandkids.
(Image courtesy Clay Bennett)

Thursday, April 13, 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.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Cool pictures from Philly's massive rally in Love Park

The top photo gives a good idea just how massive the event in Philly's famed Love Park was. And yeah, it was a picture perfect day to rally! That's me in the second shot. My sign reads "My grandparents were illegal Irish immigrants." Maybe this is why the solidarity runs so deep with me and the immigrants. The fact is, my ancestors arrived from Ireland on a visa which they overstayed, therby becoming "out of status" which is legalese for "illegal immigrant." The way I see it, my story is no diffent than the Mexicans or Chinese of today. Well, expect maybe that Irish are whiteskinned? But I digress.....

P.S. Do you like the T shirt I am wearing? It's Che Guevara wearing a Bart Simpson shirt. It was ironic and apporpriate for the occasion.
Images courtesy of PhillyIMC and Albert Yee who always ends up getting a flattering shot of me at these types of events. God bless you, Albert!

Lassiter Space goes (totally) global!

It's a small, small world!
-Jiminy Cricket

With the exception of Antarctica, my wee blog is being picked up in all corners of the globe, which is very exciting. Of course hits from places like Iran, Venezuela, and Qatar might very well get me on Dick Cheney's shitlist, it still feels very good for the old ego that folks actually give a damn about what I write on here. Honestly, it's what every blogger wants!

Now if you're a map freak like i am (and even if you're not) click on the pic of the world map to enlarge it. And marvel at the diveristy of web traffic that I enjoy here.

National Day of Action galvanizes immigrant communities

While Congress takes (yet another) two-week recess from debating the most sweeping changes to immigration policy in two decades, protesters nationwide called on legislators to pass what they describe as humane immigration reform.
Yesterday Philadelphia's Love Park played host to over 1o,ooo people protesting the Sensenbrenner-King Bill, which is currently being debated in the U.S. Senate. (click pic to enlarge) The bill would aims to erect a 2,ooo mile wall along the Mexico border. It also would make a felon out of, for example, a doctor who treats an undocumented worker in the ER.

As a descendant of illegal Irish immigrants, I felt solidatity and kinship with the thousands of protestest--many of whom were undocumented--who are here seeking a better life for themselves and their kids. Let me be clear here: I do not believe anyone has the right to begrudge anyone the desire to better their life. Isn't that the whole "American Dream" business we've all come to believe in?

The tough House measure-- crafted by Wisconsin Rep. James Sensenbrenner, republican chairman of the Judiciary Committee-- has drawn many Hispanics into a political process they had until now avoided, immigrant advocates said. (Now that I think about it, doesn't the name Sensenbrenner sound like a distinctly unAmerican?) And while the event had a decidedly Latin flavor, immigrants from Asia, Africa were also out in force. (see pics.)

A compassionate and creative solution to the immigration "problem" is within reach. I'll remind my American brothers and sisters who believe in building walls and putting social workers who aid immigrants in jail that we are a nation of immigrants. We can do better than that. Anything less would be antithetical to the ethos of our great nation
(Images courtesy of Monique Fruglier)

Sunday, April 09, 2006

"Good News" from Iraq

2,350 were not so lucky. Image courtesy Clay Bennett

Rich Sexton's busy Sunday in NJ-3

Nothing would be finer for south New Jersey voters than putting Republican Rep. Jim Saxton out to pasture this November 7th. In fact, voters in NJ's 3rd congressional district are finally waking up to the fact that Jim Saxton is (in the words of a mydd reader reader) an anachronism,
"A ghost of politics past," as it were.....akin to the appendix--a vestigial organ, it sticks around even though it does nothing for us, and it oftentimes becomes infected. The era of political appendices must end! It is utterly ridiculous the extent to which the Democrats have overlooked NJ-03 (and NJ-04) sandwiched between the congressional districts of Rob Andrews and Rush Holt no less. The region is so pregnant with progressive possibilities that it is not only naive to discount it, but downright foolish.
I could not agree more. Which is why I am so glad to see in my inbox this morning that NJ-3 Democratic candidate Rich Sexton picked up another endorsement, this time from the Progressive Democrats of South Jersey. The gang voted unnanimously to support the Sexton campaign and retire ol' Jim Saxton.

Not one to rest on his laurels, Rich Sexton was doing a little live blogging over at DailyKos with the Band of Brothers, a group of Military Vets who are running for Congress this year.

With the United States in the middle of a messy war created by Chicken hawks like George Bush and Jim Saxton, it's imperative that we look to folks like (Naval Academy Alum) Candidate Rich Sexton who have a more intimate sensibility to the business of war for solutions!

Friday, April 07, 2006

Borderline schizophrenic part 2

All this talk of a wall going up along 700 miles along the U.S.-Mexico border is a shocking and tragic idea. I am all in favor of immigration reform of some kind, it would be nice if Congress could achieve a compromise that would respect the rights of Americans and the undocumented workers, alike. But a 700 mile fence?? Hasn't history taught us better?

The ninety-six mile Berlin Wall (top 2) and the ninety mile Israel Wall (beneath) are two of the most iconic images of tyranny the world has ever known. And now the U.S. House of Representatives wants to erect a concrete and barbwire eye sore along the Mexico border which--at an astonishing 700 miles--is long enough to stretch from Atlanta to Chicago!

As this imigration debate hits a fevered pitch it's obvious that this issue is an emotional one. But until cooler heads prevail, let's ask ourselves if we can't think of a more creative solution to the (illegal) immigration problem than to copy regimes like East Germany!?

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Borderline Schizophrenic

In the noisy argument over what to do about illegal immigrants, the common assumption is that America has done a great deal for them already. The question now is what more should we give them? Do we give them a green card? Grant them amnesty? Or stop all this "generosity" and send them packing. No one speaks of what illegal immigrants have done for us. It occurs to me that I have not yet heard two relevant words spoken. If you'll allow me, i'll speak them now....
(Best read aloud)

Thank you.
Thank you for turning on our sprinklers.
Thank you for cleaning our swimming pools and scrambling the eggs and doing the dishes.
Thank you for making the bed.
Thank you for getting the children up and ready for school.
Thank you for picking them up from school.
Thank you for caring for our dying parents....

Thank you for plucking dead chickens.
Thank you for bending your bodies over our fields.
Thank you for breathing in chemicals and absorbing chemicals into your bodies.
Thank for for the lettuce and the spinach and the artichokes and the esparagus and the cauliflower.
The broccoli...
the beans...
the tomatoes and the garlic.
Thank you for the apricots and the peaches and the apples and the melons and the plumbs and the almonds and the grapes.

Thank you for the willow trees and the roses.
And the winter lawn.
Thank you for scraping and painting and roofing and cleaning out the asbestos. and the mold.
Thank you for your stoicism and your eager hands.
Thank you for all the young men on rooftops in the summer.
Thank you for cleaning the toilets
and the showers
and the restaurant kitchens
and the schools
and the office buildings
and the airports
and the malls.
Thank you for washing the car. Thank you for washing all of the cars.

Thank you for your parents who died young and had nothing to bequeath to their children but the memory of work.


(image couresy Steve Breen)

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Casualty Count Mounting in Iraq

2343 U.S. Soldiers killed so far. 16,653 wounded.
And for what?
Do you feel safer?

Image courtesy Lalo Alcarez

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

How do you balance a budget like New Jersey?

The polls suggest the honeymoon is over here in New Jersey.

Gov. Corzine's new budget is a sticky one. He inhereted an unenviable task and had to make some politically tough choices, including provisions for increasing and expanding sales tax, raising taxes on booze and smokes, cutting funding to higher education (ouch!), and funding towns and schools at 2005 levels, likely prompting local tax hikes.

Gov. Jon Corzine's proposed $30.9 billion state budget drew fire yesterday on two fronts yesterday: those upset over possible tax increases (ie: the business lobby and hospital officials), and advocates for the needy, who maintain the budget is too stingy.

I am the first to admit that the idea of paying more taxes is an unsavory one, but according to Prof. David P. Rebovich, Managing Director of the Rider University Institute for New Jersey Politics,
some sort of tax hikes will likely be necessary for Corzine and his fellow Democrats to balance the budget and put state government in a position to move forward on other policy goals. What should Corzine and the legislature consider when they start thinking about hiking taxes? Well, obviously they need to explain the extent of the state's financial problems.
But the state economy is in dire straits and...
Corzine and state legislators in both parties would be wise to tell it like it is. The new Governor should have no qualms about complaining that he has to clean up the mess created by others.
Notably ex-Governors Christie Todd Whitman Jim McGreevy who powered their gravy trains with fiscal gimmicks including refinancing debt, deferring payments, drawing money from funds, or borrowing monies against projected revenues.

Gov. Corzine has only been in office since January. We ought to give him a chance to show us what he can do. This is the same Jon Corzine who took Goldman Sachs out of the tank and restored them to one of the most successful brokerage houses in the entire Wall Street pantheon.

So before we freak out, let's give Governor Corzine a chance to try to fix this.

Image courtesy Jimmy Margulies

Sunday, April 02, 2006

2,332* to be exact.....

* 2,332 represents total number of US casualties in Bush's Iraq War. So Secretary of State Condi Rice was on the mark for once when she admitted that the Bush Administration has made "thousands of mistakes" in Iraq. Image courtesy Pat Bagley

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Casualties of Bush's War, redux

As I type away--snug in the comfort of my Cherry Hill NJ home--I'm troubled that with all this talk about daylight savings and baseball's opening day, Americans seem to be forgetting that our soldiers are dying with incresing frequency in Iraq. One project I am tending to this weekend is a little war protest that I hope others will become excited about, too. I am taking little plastic army men and writing the words "BRING ME HOME" on a little piece of masking tape then sticking it onto the little plastic soldier's base.

I have about a dozen plastic soldiers in my pocket at all times and place them about randomly wherever I go: one in the produce at the grocery, another on the shelves at the videostore, the restroom at the gas station or a restaurant, and so forth. This seems like a mild but mindful form of protest, but I have to admit I get a bit of a high from doing it. I hope that people will find these small toys with their message, and they'll get to thinking about the Iraq war. That's really the modest goal of this for me. (And of course the wildly subversive feeling that such behavior gives me is a bonus!)

I bought several 100-toy bags of army men at the dollarstore and my friends Andrea, Peter, Brian (as well as my boy Greg) have helped me out a great deal by taking a few dozen and spreading them 'round a bit. My mother was excited to help too. She took 50 because she says this war reminds her of vietman. We all know how that turned out.
The war in Iraq is costing American taxpayers 3 billion dollars a day.
For the families of the 2326 dead American soldiers--and for the 16,553 wounded Vets-- the sacrifice is infinitely more.

I should note that this is a totally unoriginal idea. I heard a story on NRP about a retired lady in Chicago who took to doing this because she wanted to do something to register her discontent. here is a link to her story.
(Image courtesy of Keith Hodan)