Friday, March 31, 2006
If ever there were a cautionary tale for outlawing the death penalty, it's that of Kirk Bloodsworth. Mr. Bloodsworth is the first person sentenced to death who was exonerated through DNA evidence and he was in South Jersey addressing the Coalition for Peace and Justice meeting last night in Linwood. When I promised Mr. Bloodsworth that NJ legislators read this site, he agreed to a podcast interview. (wink)
The death penalty is morally disgusting. It's also horrible public policy. Listen to Kirk Bloodsworth's story and you'll know why.
(this is cross-posted at BlueJersey.net where other podcasts include interviews with NJ Senators and Congressmen.)
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
With a proposal to amend the state constitution languishing in committee and only two weeks left in the General Assembly session, Senate Minority Leader J. Lowell Stoltzfus, R-Somerset, resorted to a rarely used parliamentary move to try to bring the amendment out of the Judicial Proceedings Committee. He submitted a petition asking the Senate to bypass the committee and put the amendment on the agenda for debate.But that move got the royal beatdown from Sen Brian Frosh who hails from mostly metrosexual Montgomery County:
Sen.Frosh chairman of the Judicial Proceedings Committee, immediately responded with another unusual move, making a motion to table the Stoltzfus petition indefinitely.Check mate, bi-yatch!!
The republican delegation proved its tenuious grasp of Maryland constitutional law by offering the same tired old arguments:
"Polls show that a majority of people in this state support making a marriage between a man and a woman," Stoltzfus said. And Sen. Alex Mooney, R-Frederick, said the legislature should stand up to activist judges who make law instead of interpreting it.It's not about polls, it's about the constitutional rights of gays in Maryland. And further, it's the judicial preragative to intervene when the the legislators are part-n-parcel with the discrimination.
When I called Sen. Frosh's office to tell him thanks for standing up for all Marylanders, the aide who took my call went to my high school which made the warm fuzzy feel that much more personal.
I am proud to be gay. And I am proud to be from Maryland.
This is until several other Wimbledon alumni urged him to reconsider. Says 1992 winner Andre Agassi, "The only way you should have one is if you win it. The thought of a Wimbledon trophy being in the hands of someone who didn't win it is upsetting to me." Agassi went on to suggest that sports history would be better served if the silver-gilt trophies would be better served with the trophies in tennis' Hall of Fame and not in a private collection, a sentiment echoed by two time winner Jimmy Connors.
But it was tennis' original superbrat John McEnroe who convinced Borg to reconsider. Says Borg, "When John McEnroe called me several times and wondered what I was doing, I guess I woke up: 'Borg, what has gotten in to you? Have you gone completely nuts?'"
Borg said this month he would sell the trophies to secure "financial security" for people close to him. That set off speculation--including here on this blog-- that Borg, who has had several failed financial ventures, was broke.
"Wrong. I am not poor at all," he said. "Business is going great and I have nothing to complain about.
"I guess I was tired of seeing the old stuff lying about here in the house," he added. "Maybe I thought they could bring joy to other tennis enthusiasts. I didn't think it through. Today I regret it."
Which all makes me wonder how much the Agassi-McEnroe-Connors cabal paid ol' Bjorn to not sell out.
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
(Steven from the Opinion Mill reports)--It's been an ongoing source of wonder and frustration that the American media have allowed the big, stinking can of worms known as the Downing Street Memos to simply lie there, untouched, while overseas media gave it a thorough going over. To have documents in hand showing that Bush was already hell-bent on invading Iraq well before the invasion and that intelligence was being "fixed" around that goal, and then to treat them like yesterday papers, was the journalistic equivalent of criminal negligence.
But the media's big mental dam holding back the truth finally appears to be cracking. The cause of the impact was yesterday's New York Times story, delving into details of an already released memo, showing Bush and Blair privately acknowledging that no terror weapons were being turned up by inspectors in Iraq, then talking about provoking Saddam into doing something that would serve as a pretext for invasion:
The memo indicates the two leaders envisioned a quick victory and a transition to a new Iraqi government that would be complicated, but manageable. Mr. Bush predicted that it was "unlikely there would be internecine warfare between the different religious and ethnic groups." Mr. Blair agreed with that assessment.Editor and Publisher takes the additional step of reprinting what Bush and Blair said publicly during their brief remarks to the press after the meeting. Maybe you're inured to the spectacle of Bush and his poet blandly lying through their teeth, but it still makes my blood boil.
The memo also shows that the president and the prime minister acknowledged that no unconventional weapons had been found inside Iraq. Faced with the possibility of not finding any before the planned invasion, Mr. Bush talked about several ways to provoke a confrontation, including a proposal to paint a United States surveillance plane in the colors of the United Nations in hopes of drawing fire, or assassinating Mr. Hussein.
And ThinkProgress sets key elements of the memo story against the declarations Bush made a little over a month after privately making it clear he wanted war, no ifs, ands or buts:
Bush, with Blair, January 31, 2003:
"'The start date for the military campaign was now penciled in for 10 March,' Mr. Manning wrote, paraphrasing the president. 'This was when the bombing would begin.'"
Bush, in public, on March 6, 2003:
"I’ve not made up our mind about military action. Hopefully, this can be done peacefully."
Like that? Then you'll love this:
Bush, with Blair, January 31, 2003:
"'The U.S. was thinking of flying U2 reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover over Iraq, painted in U.N. colours,' the memo says, attributing the idea to Mr. Bush. 'If Saddam fired on them, he would be in breach.'"
Bush, in public, on March 8, 2003:
"We are doing everything we can to avoid war in Iraq."
Last night, Keith Olbermann and Andrea Mitchell of MSNBC discussed the memo story and even mentioned -- shhhhh! -- the Downing Street Memos. Could this be a sign of the end times? For Bush, I mean
Monday, March 27, 2006
One thing's for sure, this sure has the Republican party bickering.
Image courtesy Sheneman
Friday, March 24, 2006
With Philly's Liberty Bell serving as an ironic backdrop, I had a chance to speak to several folks who are making the trek from the U.N. building in Manhattan to the White House as part of the Sudan Freedom Walk. Their stop yesterday: Philadelphia's Constitution Center. Interview with Abdelgabr Adam (see pic) President of the Darfur Human Rights Organization.(Images Courtesy Philip Forrest. Copyright 2006)
This is me in the 2nd pic with a deliberately provocative message. I got a few sideways looks and finally drew little peace signs in the "o's."
At one point during the vigil, a girl came up behind me and asked "What school do you go to?" and when i turned to answer her she looked at me and said, "Oh,never mind."
OUCH! Well, it was a light moment on an otherwise somber afternoon at least.
In the 2nd Audio-file, I am interviewing Joseph Sorro who is from Sudan and now studying at University of Pennsylvania. Joseph was delighted to share his story with me, that is until his countryman--and NBA star-- Manute Bol (see pic) arrived and proved a more worthy distraction!
Thursday, March 23, 2006
A sonogram is a mother's first picture of her gorgeous baby. Why not present it in a Picture Perfect fashion?
Says Dan: "The product goes by the indigestable name of Picture This Sonogram Cookies by Good Fortunes, and is a white chocolate graham cracker sprinkled with edible confetti or non-parielles and featuring the little darling's picture printed on edible paper with edible ink."
I am thinking about sening a box of 'em to the anti-women's choice lobby. Would that be too bitchy?
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
The board game that brings the thrill of trampling the Constitution right into your home... newly updated for 2006 to include NSA wiretaps and renewal of provisions!
Or so says the game's website. It's the Patriot Act Board Game! Download your copy at home today- don't try it in the library, though, Dick Cheney may be watching!
More from their site: PATRIOT ACT: The Home Version, is a game inspired by the historic abuse of governmental powers of the same name. Many of the hypothetical situations in the game are based on real-life events. Either as a game to be played or as a statement to be read, Patriot Act: The Home Version educates the user to the current erosion of our civil rights by the government while claiming to be protecting our freedoms.
Now in addition to my little blog, I am also a writer for the progressive website Bluejersey.net. Here in NJ, there is a death penalty moritorium and progressive activists like me are fighting like hell to have it abolished once and for all. So, when i heard that Kirk Bloodsworth was coming to NJ I contacted him to see if I could get an interview while he's in town. He agreed and as you might imagine this is a terrific scoop for my cause (and for me too.) I will be posting the interview as a podcast on the Bluejersey site in the hopes that precisely this type of story is what will end the death penalty in this state. In fact, the thought of interviewing him makes me feel like Lois Lane and Mother Theresa all at once!
WHAT SHOULD I ASK THIS GUY?
Tuesday, March 21, 2006
Image M.e. Cohen
Monday, March 20, 2006
If you Google my name (Jay+Lassiter) you can find me (and this blog) pretty easily. In fact, I just Google'd myself, and there I am right there at the top of the page. My porn star doppleganger (see pic, with costar "Natalya") is #4 on the list. More incriminating is an image search which turns up 3 pages of pornstar-Jay and nothing of me. (sigh)
Now the fact that I have never Google'd myself might imply that I am not as self-sbsorbed as I used to me. But still, I am surprised that my porn-star namesake never surfaced before now.
I still haven't decided how I feel about all this. I mean, it's not like being a porn star is beneath me or anything, but this guy kinda looks like me too which makes is a little freaky. And yet I am still tempted to buy one of his videos!
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Live near me in South Jersey? click here for info for event near you.
Nationwide event seach click here.
I'll be dispatching updates from two events in Philadelphia via my Audio Blog feature. Around 3pm, I'll phone in from PA Senator Arlen Specter's house in Philly. Should be a big crowd protesting Bush's ridiculous war. Later on I'll be at the Constitution Center (and an even bigger crowd) where I'll check in again 'round 6:30.
Image of a war memorial near my home. Photo courtesy NJ Courier Post
Saturday, March 18, 2006
I am running for Congress because we need strong leadership for a new course in Washington and representation for the citizens of New Jersey's 3rd District that is more in tune with mainstream America and working class families, not the hard right wing agenda from the Bush-Cheney-DeLay-Saxton team.-Democrat Rich Sexton
Why are we in the pits in Cherry Hill NJ? You would be too if your voice in Congress was Republican Jim Saxton. Unfortuately the good people of New Jersey's 3rd Congressional district have repeatedly been let down by Congressman Saxton, whose right-wing politics seem better suited to Texas than here in moderate-to-progressive New Jersey.
Most of us are pragmatic enough that we can accept any moderate voice, whether Democrat or Republican. But voters in New Jersey were victims of a classic bait-n-switch. Jim Saxton ran under the banner of MODERATE COMPASSIONATE CONSERVATISM. What voters got instead, was a voice in Congress that is in lock step with the Bush Administration's values.
Republican Congressman Jim Saxton does not represnt the values of New Jersey's voters. One look at his voting record (click here, see for yourself) proves that Congressman Saxton is consistantly on the wrong side of everything that seems important: from education (he voted for Bush's ironically-named 'No Child Left Behind' disaster. He also voted to cut student loan programs. Twice!!) to Health care (including the goofy new drug prescription plan) to jobs (his vote sent good jobs abroad) and the environment (where do I begin there?) Jim Saxton is WRONG for our state!
Democrat Rich Sexton is a moderate voice of change for New Jersey. Not only is Rich Sexton sharp as a whip (he's a Naval Academy grad) but his values show he's got loads of heart as well! Judge for yourself:
Democrat Rich Sexton on the Ecomomy:
For a relatively few very wealthy Americans, the past five years have been the best of times but for most Americans these years have not been easy, with stagnant economic growth coupled with job losses and declining wages. (read more)
Democrat Rich Sexton on Foreign Policy:
We need a common sense approach to American foreign policy instead of the haphazard policy now in place. (read more)
Democrat Rich Sexton on Health Care:
We must make health insurance accessible and affordable for all Americans. As it now stands, over 45 million Americans have no health insurance of any type. (read more)
Democrat Rich Sexton on Education:
The Bush Administration’s massive budget deficits have forced reductions in education funding from top to bottom, and at a time when we can least afford it. (read more)
Democrat Rich Sexton on Social Security:
We must protect Social Security and we can do so by making small adjustments in the program, but we must not privatize Social Security which will destroy the most successful government program in the history of our country. (read more)
Looking to get involved?
Check out Candidate Rich Sexton's website!
(Not registered to vote yet? click here!)
Friday, March 17, 2006
Peacefully, prayerfully, we undertook this nonviolent symbolic action to show the awful truth about war. To show our non-cooperation with it, and to sound the alarm, to warn others- Especially our beloved youth whose honorable intentions and bravery have been exploited.”
The third anniversary of the invasion of Iraq is this weekend. There are protests and vigils nationwide. No matter where you live, there's something near you to mark this sad and troubling milestone.
Live near me in South Jersey? click here for info for event near you.
Nationwide event seach click here.
P.S in case you're wondering, that Chinese character is the Mandarin symbol for peace. (pronounced like the word "helping" without the "L"..... something like "heh-ping")
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Somehow I can't accept that sexually abusing the enemy (top pic) and then covering them with feces (second pic) is helping to win Bush's so-called war on terror.
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
Good. This is Bush's war alone, really.
Image courtesy Bob Englehart
Monday, March 13, 2006
The longer Bush's War drags on the more it becomes clear that I need to dedicate the next portion of my life to peace activism. Is there a more important cause out there?
(Image courtesy Clay Bennett)
Sunday, March 12, 2006
I have about a dozen plastic soldiers in my coat 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 2307 dead American soldiers--and for the 15,553 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)
Friday, March 10, 2006
(My buddy Kvatch reports)--
Dubai Ports World has pulled out of the deal to run six of the US's container facilities. Check. We all know that. Halliburton has been mentioned as a possible replacement. Whoa, huh?!
The conspiracist in me encourages you to think about this in light of how the Miers/Alito circus was orchestrated.
Just 45 days after the September 11 attacks, with virtually no debate, Congress passed the USA PATRIOT Act. There are significant flaws in the Patriot Act that threaten your fundamental freedoms by giving the government the power to access to your medical records, tax records, information about the books you buy or borrow without probable cause, and the power to break into your home and conduct secret searches without telling you for weeks, months, or indefinitely.
Meanwhile Osama Bin Laden is still out there laughing his fool head off at how stupid Americans are. (Image Courtesy Mike Thompson & Detriot Free Press)
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
Americans are less likely to attack the Homeland than perhaps some others are. We know that there's an ideological divide between some people who live in the eastern, uhhhh, hemisphere and some people who, the rest of us who live in the western, uhhhh, hemisphere.For a bill with such far-reaching economic consequences, Rep. Saxton's proposal is woefully short on details. Not only does this bill fail to outline what foreigners can and can not own, but it defers to the Whitehouse's definition of "critical infastructure" which could be anything from agriculture/food, water, energy, transportation, banking and many other industries. This bill would obstensibly require thousands of foreign-0wned companies to divest in the United States such as Evain water, Danon yogurt, Stouffer's lasagne, as all are foreign owned. Says economist Gary Huffbaker of the Institute of International Economics,
If (this piece) of legistation passes, it will be a sign to the world that the United States is taking a new more nationalistic attitude towards investement in this the United States by foreign companiesTo which Saxton responds, "This is about national security, not about fostering some (econonic) competition. There will be costs." He's right about that much at least, there would indeed be costs! Now the last thing I want to do it get into a free-trade argument, but it does occur to me that Rep. Saxton's bill could have some pretty major economic consequences--nothing short of completely overhauling our trade policy in this country. (In my opinion, it would be a fiscal catastrophe!)
And for what? Is Rep. Saxton using this port-controversy to make a distinction between himself and an unpopular president? And if this is the case, why would he defer to the president's definition of "critical infastructure."
Mr. Saxton what are you thinking?
(And for my fellow 3rd District voters: THERE IS A BETTER WAY!!! JIM SAXTON HAS GOT TO GO! READ HIS QUOTE--HIS WORDS--AND JUDGE FOR YOURSELF IF THIS IS THE KIND OF PERSON YOU WANT ADVOCATING FOR YOU IN WASHINGTON!! THERE IS A BETTER WAY!! RICH SEXTON FOR CONGRESS IN NJ-3!!!http://www.richsextonforcongress.com/
Tuesday, March 07, 2006
If I hear another Brokeback Mountain joke, I'll puke!! And This news from South Dakota makes me useasy as well. I am starting to get the impression that Republicans regard women as nothing more than baby-making machines.
Sunday, March 05, 2006
Five-time winner Bjorn Borg is auctioning his Wimbledon trophies next week. Additionally, the winning rackets are also up for sale. According to the ex-champ,
"Obviously it is not easy to part with the trophies that symbolise all the tremendous effort, both physically and emotionally that it took to win Wimbledon on five occasions. However, I do need to have some long-term financial security for those close to me and now believe that the time is right for the trophies and rackets to pass to either a tennis collector or a suitable institution where they can be appreciated by a wider number of people."In other words, he's broke.
I had a huge crush on this guy in the early 80's. He seemed like a Nordic god to me, with those blond wavy locks and that stoic on-court demeanor. And what a body! Remember this was a shorter-shorts era (see pic) long before basketball star Michael Jordan popularized that damn baggy-shorts look that's the norm nowadays.
Anyways, Borg's Wimbledon trophies are expected to fetch a cool half-million.
As a caviat, I should note the Borg's biggest Wimbledon payday was ~$1oo,ooo ( in 198o.) Today's champ earns 10x that much.
Aparently NASA is scrapping the more scientifically juicy programs (like the Cassini probe and Mars missions) in favor of the big money items which yield little in the way of new science: the shuttle and the international space center. According to Time's science writer Jeffrey Kluger,
And though every federal agency faces hard choices to make ends meet, the missions NASA is scrapping make the least fiscal dent at the greatest scientific price. NASA was founded in 1958 with the expectation that smart scientists and gutsy lawmakers and bureaucrats could get together to explore the cosmos without breaking the bank in the process. For a while they did. Now it looks like most of the money will keep getting spent but the cosmic rewards will continue to dwindle. The scientists, by any measure, are still smart. The same, alas, cannot be said for everyone else.Sounds like the Bush Administration to me!! You can tell a lot about someone by watching them spend money. The same can be said for our government. Seeing our republican-led government making cuts in every area (healthcare, science, education) to pay for their war follies is a real kick in the balls for this liberal. Exactly where do the government's fiscal priorities leave you?
(Image courtesy of the NASA/Cassini website. For more pics, check'em out!!)
Friday, March 03, 2006
Shout, and don't quit. You will have 30 days!
Is selling off Bitterroot National Forest or the Sierra National Forest or Yellowstone National Park a good idea? No, not in general," said Under Secretary Mark Rey. "But I challenge these people who are engaging in this flowery rhetoric ... to take a hard look at these specific parcels and tell me they belong in national forest ownership."This is so immoral I can barely speak. Your only choice:
The public will have 30 days to comment after maps of the acreage proposed for sale are published, which the agency expects to do by the end of the month. Some parcels might be removed after public comment if they are deemed too valuable to lose.
Read the whole article. This is what happens when fake ranchers use real wilderness to finance an illegal war. Can we cut 'em off at the pass?
Call your Congressmen! Find the number here!
(Image courtesy of Monte Wolverton)
* North Jersey RegionTuesday, March 7, 2006 7:00 PM at Montclair State University, University Hall - College of Education and Human Services Building
* Central Jersey RegionWednesday, March 8, 2006 7:00 PM at Monmouth University, Woodrow Wilson Auditorium
* South Jersey RegionThursday, March 9, 2006 7:00 PM at Rowan University, Student Center Building
Information on the forums, RSVP info and a link to submit budget suggestions are all here. Come out and make your voice heard!
Thursday, March 02, 2006
(Washington Post reports)--NEW DELHI, March 2 -- President Bush and Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh struck what both leaders called an historic agreement Thursday to provide U.S. nuclear power assistance to India in exchange for new inspections of India's civilian nuclear facilities. The agreement, which requires congressional action, is a major break with prior U.S. policy, which barred nuclear assistance to nations, like India, that have refused to sign the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.Not sure what kind of message the Bush Administration is sending to the "Axis-of-evil" by exporting American nuclear technology to India, but I suspect it will not be a constructive one. Ahhhh, the mind reels.