Tuesday, August 29, 2006
Sunday, August 27, 2006
This is a quick snipet of the interview I did with the chairman of the progressive group 'Democracy for America.'
I ask Jim about his views on future of the blog phenomenon within the the political landscape.
The audio for the entire interview is here. It's podcast-able as well!
Friday, August 25, 2006
He said he found a "noticeable lack of political will" among Iraqis "to move in what I would call a timely fashion" and and concluded that Iraqi officials would act with greater urgency if the United States this fall set a timetable for withdrawal.
"My view is that it may be that the only way we are able to encourage some political will on the part of Iraqis is to have a timeline for troop withdrawal. A timeline of when the bulk of heavy lifting is in the hands of the Iraqis."Shays also had some scathing criticism for Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld noting "I haven't had faith in the secretary in a long time."
Critics have suggested that Shays' sudden change of heart (he has previously supported the war) is just election year posturing.
Shays is facing a tough challenge from an antiwar opponent in a state that has become a center of opposition to the war. "Americans have known for a long time that Iraq was a mess, and the only thing that changed is proximity to Election Day," said Bill Burton, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.Diane Farrell, Shays's Democratic challenger, said: "I think it is unfortunate it took him 14 trips and three years to recognize that Iraq has been in a constant state of turmoil since the day that Baghdad fell."
Whatever his reasons, it's good to see some members of the Republican party acknowledging that Iraq is a mess. Too bad over 2,600 American GI's had to die before the message finally began to sink in.
1... Things that scare me
2...People who make me laugh
Any of my other personalities
3...Things I hate the most
Guilt and obligation
Our president's priorities
4...Things I don't understand
5...Things I'm doing right now
Listening to NPR
Getting ready to hang some clothes to dry
Contemplating my next move
6...Things I want to do before I die
Visit South America
Get a degree
Retire to a butterfarm in East Germany
7... Things I can do
Speak 5 languages (German, French, Mandarin, English, Italian)
8... Things I can't do
Play a musical instrument
(does this make me a bad gay?)
10...Things I think you should listen to
Your mother and father
11...Things you should never listen to
The man behind the curtain
A drug dealer
12...Things I'd like to learn
anything sweet and mango-ey.
14...Beverages I drink regularly
15...Shows I watched as a kid
Dukes of Hazzard
The Price is Right
16...People I'm tagging (to do this meme)
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
When you read the details of the Pentagon's move to deploy military personnel out of the Individual Ready Reserve in this Stars and Stripes article, you realize how desperate the situation is.
The Marine Corps will mobilize up to 2,500 Marines in the Individual Ready Reserve to go downrange, said Guy A. Stratton, head of Manpower and Mobilization Plans. Those called up can expect to be mobilized for 12 to 18 months, with a maximum service time of two years, Marine officials said.Back in May, I interviewed former Marine Corps Sergeant Brian Fricke, who now works with Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, about the possibility of a draft (this was prior to my liveblogging of SLDN's annual dinner).
Servicemembers in the IRR have left active duty but still have time on their obligation to serve. Unlike other reserve component troops, they do not drill.
For the past few years, the Marines have used volunteers from the IRR, but the number of Marines volunteering to be mobilized has decreased over the past two years, and now the Marine Corps is about 1,200 Marines short of its needs, Stratton said. “Most of the Marines when we call and talk to them will have told us that, ‘If you need me, call me, but right now, I just, I’m doing other things in my life, so I just don’t want to volunteer right now,’ ” Stratton said.
Of the roughly 59,000 Marines in the IRR, about 35,000 are eligible to be mobilized because the Marine Corps is excluding those who have already volunteered for duty or who are serving their first or fourth years in the IRR, Stratton said.
He said the Marine Corps is looking at mobilizing Marines in the following specialties: communications, engineers, military police, intelligence, aviation mechanics, truck drivers and infantry.
I don't know when we're going to hit that draft wall, but yesterday's news makes it pretty clear that Rummy and Co. haven't had enough warm bodies on active duty to deploy for Dear Leader's Big Global Adventures for some time now.
Q: Can they, in theory, recall you into service now that you're out since you are individual ready reserves?
A: They could, but it's not likely. Typically they call active reservists. We have an active component of active reservists. Those are the ones that you hear are being deployed. IRRs are there on-call, if needed. A lot of IRRs don't PT, don't maintain their uniforms any more, and when they get a phone call, they might not be eligible anymore...Really, the only reason I could see them needing me is if they were fighting on several fronts and they really scraping the bottom of the barrel, because we are the last folks, and then after us, then it's the draft.
Q: You're out now. So would they still call you up?
A: They would call me up regardless. I think that if we're in that situation, where they need to call us...I don't think they would be picking and choosing who they are calling back if we're really in that situation.
The Army is in the same leaky boat, btw. Stars and Stripes reports that half of IRR members who were given call up orders in 2004 asked for an exemption or delay and hundreds of them failed to show up at deployment stations after receiving orders.
They can't paper this stuff over anymore.
Monday, August 21, 2006
NJ-3 will be featured on the Colbert Report's "Better Know a District" series this Thursday, which includes a sit-down with Democrat candidate Rich Sexton.
"I’m excited for the opportunity to connect with young people,” said Rich Sexton about his appearance. Over 40% of The Colbert Report’s audience is between the ages of 18-24. “My kids watch the show,” Mr. Sexton said, “and they helped me to get ready. My daughter gave me one piece of advice – Don’t be funny. She’ll be glad to see I wasn’t.”
The segment will be airing this Thursday, August 24 at 11:30PM.
Rumor has it, Rich gives the "interview of his career" which will be good to watch. One thing is for sure, this is bringing some much needed attention to this race and our district.
(Photo from left: Sexton staffer J.R. Cohen, Colbert, Rich's son Drew, Rich)
Wanna help trade in GOP lapdog incumbent Jim Saxton for a Democrat? Why not make a $5 contribution to the campaign?
Saturday, August 19, 2006
Here's one nugget:
By the time I encountered Cory Bray, a towering senior from the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, the beer was flowing freely. "The people opposed to the war aren't putting their asses on the line," Bray boomed from beside the bar. Then why isn't he putting his ass on the line? "I'm not putting my ass on the line because I had the opportunity to go to the number-one business school in the country," he declared, his voice rising in defensive anger, "and I wasn't going to pass that up."And besides, being a College Republican is so much more fun than counterinsurgency warfare. Like their president, these clowns are only interested in waging war with your kids.
Bray recounted the pride he and his buddies had felt walking through the center of campus last fall waving a giant American flag, wearing cowboy boots and hats with the letters B-U-S-H painted on their bare chests. "We're the big guys," he said. "We're the ones who stand up for what we believe in. The College Democrats just sit around talking about how much they hate Bush. We actually do shit."
I chatted for a while with Collin Kelley, a senior at Washington State with a vague resemblance to the studly actor Orlando Bloom. Kelley told me he's "sick and tired of people saying our troops are dying in vain" and added, "This isn't an invasion of Iraq, it's a liberation--as David Horowitz said." When I asked him why he was staying on campus rather than fighting the good fight, he rubbed his shoulder and described a nagging football injury from high school. Plus, his parents didn't want him to go. "They're old hippies," Kelley said.I am an old hippie too. And though I am not a parent I understand the idea of not wanting to send your kid off to a war to die.
Munching on a quesadilla at a table nearby was Edward Hauser, a senior at St. Edwards University in Austin, Texas--a liberal school in a liberal town in the ultimate red state of Texas. "Austin is ninety square miles insulated from reality," Hauser said. When I broached the issue of Iraq, he replied, "I support our country. I support our troops." So why isn't he there?
"I know that I'm going to be better staying here and working to convince people why we're there [in Iraq]," Hauser explained, pausing in thought. "I'm a fighter, but with words."
So, college Republicans have have too much to do back home — things that are more important than helping ensure the success of the war they support so much when it comes to other people serving and risking their lives. It's contemptable when supporters of the war spend more time worrying about their own lives rather than working to help the war succeed.
Their faliure to enlist suggests that their support of the war doesn’t extend to any sort of real, personal commitment that would place themselves in harm’s way.
Hattip to Pam
Wednesday, August 16, 2006
I would do a cut-n-paste but i try to keep it PG-13 here on my blog, so go check out his link for some succulent food for thought.
Monday, August 14, 2006
Sunday, August 13, 2006
Hard to believe there is a calendar available with twelve months worth of sexy priests.
If they were this hot when I was a young Roman Catholic schoolboy, there's no doubt whatsoever that I would have become an alterboy. I would have gone to confession everyday!
Jay: Forgive me Father for I have sinned, it's been fifteen minutes since my last confession....
But I digress.
The pics here are from the new Calendario Romano, which is available for all you irony-loving Catholics out there.
My 2006 calendar is twelve months of Annna Kournikova. Not very gay of me, but Anna's face is still pretty nice to look at. But next year, I might have to switch to these sexy Italian priests.
Friday, August 11, 2006
Check out the photo below.
Yes, Ma'am, we think you might have highly explosive liquids in your possession that could kill thousands of Americans and blow up an entire airplane. So please pour the liquid out in front of these hundreds of passengers, including that small baby just three feet behind you, and into this large bucket mixed with all sorts of other unknown and possibly explosive (and reactive) liquids, including alcohol, peroxide, acids, and more. Yeah, that would be the smart way to dispose of suspected terrorist explosives.
These guys are either lying to us, or criminally negligent morons. But this is coming off as bad as the duct tape fiasco.
Thursday, August 10, 2006
After the resonding political defeat Bush took on socSec privatization last year, you'd think the idea would be long dead. Think again. In fact, the President's Chief of Staff and Treasury secretary have both expressed their will to renew the push to gamble your retirement security in the stockmarket. You know the calculus by now: if Bush gets his way, the debt will go up up up and benefits will go down down down. I should note that the stock market is actually lower today than it was the day Bush was elected...I'll let you do the math. In the meantime, it's worth underscoring that without a compliant GOP Congress, the President's plans will fail. Resoundingly.
Yesterday, the outreach and advocacy group Center for America's Future hosted a conference call with Senator Menendez and others to discuss the stragety to beat back the privatization scheme once and for all. The fact is, this issue is huge. Not only is socSec the single biggest issue among the over-65 set, but it's a priority for swing voters as well. In other words, this is a major campaign issue for the Democrats heading into November.
(Social Security) ensures dignity and independence in the twilight years. Americans -- when armed with the facts will refuse to go along (with Bush's plan to privatize.)Sen. Menendez then reminded us that Tom Kean Jr's position on socSec remains deliberately fuzzy. We all know Junior ran for Senate in 2ooo promising to support the president's scheme to gamble away the future of millions of Americans. Sen. Menendez also pointed out that he was the leader of the Democratic House Caucus that fought (and won) round one of this debate last year when the President first rolled out his plan to privatize.
Ask Junior what his position is nowadays and his mealy-mouthed reply will go something like this: "I am fighting for the people of NJ and the issues that are important to them." Aparently Junior does not grasp the gravitas of this issue in the minds of NJ voters, especially older ones. Polling shows this is a big deal to swing voters as well. And since Dems enjoy far more support on this issue than Republicans, it seems fitting that our side make Social Security a front-and-center issue during the campaign.
The New Jersey Democratic Delegating will begin holding townhalls on socSec to raise awareness among voters that 1) the President still wants to roll the dice with your retirement and 2) we're not gonna let him.
One thing is for sure, no one is talking about Iraq anymore. I am sure George Bush isn't sorry about that. In any event, a picture is worth a thousand words.Image Courtesy Bill Schorr
Wednesday, August 09, 2006
I just filled up my tank and it set me back an eyepopping $52. The government's policies continue to fail me. I wonder how rich you have to be to benefit from George Bush's priorites?
Gas in Cherry Hill, NJ went for $3.29 a gallon this morning. I do take some solace that here in the Garden State we pay self-service prices for full-service treatment. So at least I don't actually have to pump it myself.
I can't wait 'til my foot heels and I can just take my bike wherever I need to go. Until then, I continue to drive like an old lady to stretch my gas doller. I get about 23 miles to the gallon which is not great, but better than average. What's your miles-per-gallon ratio??
Who knows, maybe there will be a silver lining to all this. If gas (and energy) prices continue on their meteoric rise, folks will have to adopt more sustainable consumption patterns. And that would be a good thing.
Tuesday, August 08, 2006
That's my Dad in the picture at the airport coming home from Viet Nam. My Aunt Pat is next to him, beaming with pride and relief. Click pic to enlarge.
Whis is why I was so disturbed to learn that: (AP)--
about 11,000 patients treated at the VA Hospital in Pittsburgh are at risk for identity theft.The Veteran's Administration said another 5,000 in Philadelphia may also be at risk of identity theft.A Veterans Affairs Department subcontractor lost a computer containing their sensitive personal data.Blue Bell (Pennsylvania)-based Unisys Corporation was assisting the VA in insurance collections for the hospitals.The missing computer was used in Unisys' offices in Reston, Va.The computer is believed to contain names, addresses, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, insurance carriers and claims data including medical information.WTF??
After asking someone to fight and die for our country you'd think we could take of them when they come home. And since budget cuts and Whitehouse priorities are such that Vets are getting a smaller and smaller piece of the pie, AT THE VERY LEAST you'd think we could protect the privledged information!!
This is not the first time the identifications of our Veterans have been compromised.
The latest disclosure comes after a string of recent data breaches at the VA, including the May theft of a computer from an employee's home. It had personal data for 26.5 million veterans. The computer has since been recovered, although the Army Times claims that the arrest in the theft didn't address the problem.
The VA has also acknowledged losing sensitive data for more than 16,000 veterans in at least two other cases in Minneapolis and Indianapolis.
This is how we treat the men and women who protect our nation. This is the kind of country we live in! One that sends kids off to die and when/if they come home, we don't give two shits about them!
I used to beproud to be an American. Now I am just disallusioned.
Monday, August 07, 2006
1986 was the first year at my highschool that boys and girls had equal number of participants playing varsity sports. Years prior, the squad was made up of nine guys and four girls. My freshman year the team was split equally. And accordingly, we went from the "worst team in the conference" to an actual contender. All thanks to gender equality. That was the lesson for me.
Billie jean King was a big part of the movement in the 1970's to push for equal opportunity in sports. Title IX simply made it the law. If boys can play, then girls can play too. Just like Billie Jean envisoned it. This is why Billie Jean King is my hero.
So naturally I was thrilled to hear this: (AP)--
Honoring Billie Jean King, the U.S. Tennis Association will rename the USTA National Tennis Center the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center during an opening-night ceremony at the U.S. Open. King co-founded the WTA Tour, which now offers a total of $60 million in prize money at 63 events in 35 countries. She beat Bobby Riggs in the "Battle of the Sexes" in 1973 and co-founded World Team Tennis and the Women's Sports Foundation.
Pete Sampras (a tennis icon in his own right) said the tribute was fitting, "She's so respected from all walks of life. It's fitting because of what Billie has done for the sport of tennis and sports in general. She's a legend."
Billie Jean: "Hopefully, this will have an echoing effect," King said. "It's great that a women's name is on something this special, and I think it will send out a great message. It's been my fight for equal opportunity for boys and girls, that's really what I'm about."
It's worth noting that we live in an era when stadiums are usually named after some corporate sponsor. The US Tennis Association gave up a shitload of money to name the arena after Billie Jean. I t could have just as easily been the "Geico Arena" or something.
"This was not about the money, this was about doing what was right," said Arlen Kantarian, chief executive of the USTA when responding to the passed up million$ in potential naming rights to honor King.
Besides, Billie Jean's contributions are priceless.
Saturday, August 05, 2006
Forget those Ten Commandments. Just say whatever it takes to salvage the cause of fading right-wing christerism. Make up any old shit in a vain attempt to defeat marriage equality, which is slowly but inevitably gaining traction in the US.
Friday, August 04, 2006
Wednesday, August 02, 2006
The sweltering heat wave in South Jersey and across much of the United States has Americans feeling like they're living in a desert. According to The Weather Channel, South Jersey's heat index -- what the temperature feels like when heat and humidity are combined -- will be about 115 degrees today. In comparison, Baghdad will experience a high of 111 degrees today. And with little to no humidity, the heat index will be about 111 degrees -- making Iraq feel 4 degrees cooler than South Jersey.So while we're feeling the heat (and maybe a little self-pity and woe) it's worth remembering that a vast majority of us have can just crank the airconditioner.
Folks in Iraq -- Iraqis and GI's alike -- have no such option. First of all, most of Iraq can't meet electricity demand in the best of circumstances, limiting access in the country to AC, refrigerated water, etc. Secondly, this weather is much more condusive to short tempers and desperation among Iraqis and US soldiers alike. The mind reels.......
As temperatures rise above 120 degrees, many Baghdad residents are facing their fourth summer in a row with only sporadic electricity throughout the day, even as the U.S. State Department claims that Iraq met its electricity production goals for the first time this month. The power supply still falls about 33% short of demand, and the dilapidated power grid in Baghdad means that the capital city frequently gets less electricity than its outlying provinces. According to cable sent to the State Department by U.S. Ambassador Khalilzad, one Baghdad neighborhood recently found itself without electricity for an entire month.Ouch.
That goes for the American Soldiers in the warzone as well. Imagine running around in this heat wearing combat boots, fifty pounds of gear and armour on your back in the sweltering heat and the fog of war. So in addition to roadside bombs, extended tours and lousy civilian leadership the troops now have another deadly factor to contend with: morbidly hot weather. It's no wonder our armed forces are burnt out. Literally and figuratively.
I dunno about you, but putting this into a bit of perspective kinda makes me feel sheepish for all the creature comforts I tend to take for granted.