Friday, March 31, 2006

Incompetancy in the UK

Wow. Seems while visiting UK counterpart Jack Straw in his hometown of Blackburn, England, the Reuters wire reports Condaleeza Rice made the following jawdropping statement (hat tip, georgia10 of kos):

"Yes, I know we have made tactical errors, thousands of them,"

Thousands. of. errors.

Do you think that maybe, if any of you geniuses in chucklenutz's cabal, would've listened to all the people that told you to first deal with afghanistan, that iraq wasn't the problem, to build international support, okay, fine, but at least plan the peace, send in the right number of troops, etc etc, maybe THOUSANDS OF MISTAKES WOULD NOT HAVE BEEN MADE?

To me, tactical errors come from the top. I don't know much about the military, but I know that soldiers follow orders, sargents, captains, lietenants, all the way up, follow orders. Tactical mistakes are not execution mistakes.

Saying, my bad, let's stay the course doesn't cut it, condi. While our people die, you're out watching broadway shows or shoe shopping. I wonder, does the administration's call for Jaafari to step down go with the democratic ideals part of the war, or the tactical errors part of the war.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Four great concerts I can't go to...

...between various states of sickness and awayness, but you should. Dammit.

TONIGHT: Aliza Hava, CBs Gallery (313 Bowery) 8pm. Awesome singer/songwriter I bumped into at Shamirpower's ANARCHIST SHABBAS (the revenge). She plays some mean covers, and some amazing originals. I was going to go, but I'm coughing up all sortsa nasty crap from this respiratory infection.

TOMORROW: Jenn Lindsay, Freddy's Bar and Backroom, 485 Dean St (6th Ave) BK, 1opm. Jenn Lindsay is awesome. I've been listening to her for over four years, and she's a fantastic listen. Go, listen, be amazed.

SATURDAY: They probably don't need my help, but SUPREME SUPREME sounds of Blackalicious, the Lifesavas, along with Pigeon John and Fatlip are going down at BB King's at 1o:30pm. Blackalicious and the Lifesavas are two of my favorite hip hop crews, very much recommend checking them out (if there are tickets left).

SUNDAY SUNDAY SUNDAY: Melissa Ferrick returns to us for her annual spring homage to the Bowery Ballroom. Last year, it was right after Pesach ended and it was so incredible to get to release that energy. Oh, this year, to remind me of what I'm missing, she's also got Erin McKeown with her, who's another incredible performer.

To sum up, four ass kicking women with guitars surround an amazing night of the Quannum hip hop crew. And I'm missing all of it. So don't just sit there, go and bring the feast to your ears.

And you wonder why you're called Massholes?

Sorry, Massachusetts readers, but it seems your governor likes to use anti-miscegenation laws from 1913 to keep the queer community from being married (yes, I know romney's not from there). Even worse, your Supreme Court buys it. Fresh off the AP wire (courtesy of the sudan ad times):

Same-sex couples from states where gay marriage is banned cannot legally marry in Massachusetts, the state's highest court ruled Thursday.

The Supreme Judicial Court, which three years ago made Massachusetts the first state to legalize gay marriage, upheld a 1913 state law that forbids nonresidents from marrying in Massachusetts if their marriage would not be recognized in their home state.

''The laws of this commonwealth have not endowed non-residents with an unfettered right to marry,'' the court wrote in its 38-page opinion. ''Only non-resident couples who come to Massachusetts to marry and intend to reside in this commonwealth thereafter can be issued a marriage license without consideration of any impediments to marriage that existed in their former home states."

Full story here. So, to sum up: Queer community, you're closer to being full people in Massachusetts, but only if you live there. Otherwise, get to the back of the bus. And if you think my reference to civil rights is in poor taste, what do you think the law was FIRST used for?

US calls for removal of Iraqi leader...

... except THIS TIME, he's the democratically chosen one. Chosen by the process in which this government has invested thousands of lives, limbs, and billions of dollars. From the Judy Miller, wiretap burying, red sox owning times:

"The prime minister made his remarks in an hourlong interview at his home, a Saddam Hussein-era palace with an artificial lake at the heart of the fortified Green Zone. He spoke in a languorous manner, relaxing in a black pinstripe suit in a dim ground-floor office lined with Arabic books like the multivolume "World of Civilizations."
"There was a stand from both the American government and President Bush to promote a democratic policy and protect its interests," he said, sipping from a cup of boiled water mixed with saffron. "But now there's concern among the Iraqi people that the democratic process is being threatened."
"The source of this is that some American figures have made statements that interfere with the results of the democratic process," he added. "These reservations began when the biggest bloc in Parliament chose its candidate for prime minister."

Ah, gotta love the elementary school reporting. Who cares if he spoke languorously in a black suit or in staccato bursts in khakis?

But seriously, this piece (which I'm sure has been knocked off the front page by the time you read it) brings home Helen Thomas's point even harder. If there are no weapons, if there are no ties between Saddam's govt and Al Qaida, if there's no emminent threat to us, and if we're not respecting the democratic decisions of the Iraqi people, why are people dying for this?

Now to be fair, I don't know Jaafari, or his politics, all that well. But how can we justify the enormous price we've paid, as families, as friends, as people who have watched thousands die between Iraq and the fact that we were stretched too thin to handle Katrina, when we're getting no results? What, does Chucklenutz keep requesting people step down until they pick a former oil exec (it worked for Afghanistan)? Although, as a friend from the Nuyo once said, "I hear she's dealing again."

One additional note from Jaafari's comments: His quote in the second paragraph mentions that the US Government and President Bush were out to protect both a democratic policy and its own interests. But chucklenutz's actions around this again pull up the curtain on his real intent. Stop lying to us and tell us why. Look Helen Thomas in the face. Hell, look at any of the families who have kids wrapped in an American Flag or at Walter Reade. Look at the people of New Orleans. Look someone in the face and tell them why. Maybe the truth will set you free.

Spike serves his medicine with sweet noir.

Recommendation: Inside Man.

I'm a huge fan of Spike Lee. Except for those stupid ass commercials he did with the king of sweatshop peddlers. I think I make at least three references to "Do the Right Thing" weekly (the racial slur scene, the money throwing scene, and Samuel L Jackson's "That's the truth, Ruth" among them). The end of Bamboozled left me sobbing uncontrollably. I even find myself riveted to She Hate Me, despite Spike going all Ruby K and attacking everything that moves with that. Get On The Bus, Jungle Fever, School Daze, the Autobiography of Malcolm X, Mo Better Blues... a pretty damn fine collection. Spike makes great films that ask hard questions about race, gender, culture, relationships, art, politics, religion. I don't always agree with him, but he pushes in ways that not a lot of folks do.

Now, suppose Spike Lee was to take those questions, those thoughts and ideas, and smuggle them into your head inside the delicious confection of a noir/mystery/heist movie. LA Confidential meets Do the Right Thing, or Easy Rawlins gets reborn as an NYPD Detective in modern day NYC. You wouldn't necessarily think it from the commercials or the previews, but all of Spike's usual questions and are there: where does making money override ethics? how does race and stereotypes play into everything we see and do? And it's great to see characters with depth, emotion, and intensity, being played to the hilt by a spectacular cast. Denzel Washington, Jodie Foster, Clive Owen, Christopher Plummer, Willem Dafoe and Chiwetel Ejiofor were all spectacular, and there were some folks in smaller roles that also shined.

What's great about this film is not just that Spike is pushing and prodding us, but he's also using those very stereotypes to dovetail with the twists and turns of the noir format. Who's good? Who's bad? Who are you rooting for? Detective Keith Frazer (Washington) isn't all he seems. Dalton Russell (Owen) starts the film with a very presumptuous monologue, but is he just a mean bankrobber? In one of the funniest scenes of the movie, he's talking with an 8 year old about the violent games on his portable playstation. Captain Darius (Dafoe) seems insulting and trigger happy at first, but shows more. Even power-broker Madeline White (Foster) has a moment or three.

A crime where just about everybody can win? And Denzel speaks a bissel Yiddish as a bonus? Sounds crazy, eh? But Spike wasn't kidding us, when he says he's planning, through Russell, "the perfect bank robbery."

A mindful, mystery/action flick? Go see it. It's just what Dr. Lee ordered.

Measuring life in presences and absences.

I'm starting to wonder about making some changes to the Riot Act. I try to cover a lot here: my life, my poems, current and political events, jewish life, other people's art, etc. And I want to continue doing that, though am wondering if, in my desire to do this, if I can make blogger work for me like this. If any of you out there have suggestions, I'm all ears.

Among the new features I'm planning includes a featured musician(s) and poet of the month, complete with sampling of their work, an interview I'm thinking of calling 9 and 1 with the Riot Act, and how you can support them. Similarly, in addition to updates on political and social matters I think folks should know about, I'm also going to do the "Act of the Week" where I focus on a specific social justice campaign, pick up the basics, and let you know where you can get more information and how you can help.

Hmm, this is really ambitious, and work is getting busy, but I like it. I even have the first artist picked out for the first feature, and they're a group you might be surprised to find me digging. I'll give you a hint: they were just in New York as part of a joint project. That should narrow it down, it's elementary (pipe down, Schedule1 and Knucklehead).

So, this past weekend was a wonderful one, although all the folks that should've been there weren't, and missing parties turned up from their hiatus (some more surprisingly than others). Friday night was a great shabbas dinner, cooked mostly by Knucklehead (with a little help from me). Because we had other plans saturday during the day, for once we weren't cooking five/six dishes at once, a nice change. We had some great attendees, including Schedule 1 and a personal audience with Captain Squishy. Man, that dude is a cute 3 month old. Great conversation, and when conversation slows, a cute baby is always great to ease the tension. Since the Captain, along with WS and EM are moving to the Salt Flats state, it was great to have them by, and hopefully a few more will be gotten in.

Saturday, Knucklehead and I lounged a little in the morning, then headed up for my niece's birthday. Since she's a dynamo flute player already, I went the "strange uncle" (or cool uncle, depending on who you are) route and got her a Roland Kirk cd and a Herbie Mann cd. For those that don't know, Roland Kirk was an incredible woodwind player (could play three saxes at once, and sing while playing his flute), and Herbie Mann is just a sick flute player (although he looks a cross betwen Sean Connery and Jim Kelly's partner in Enter the Dragon). We spent the day with my nieces, their folks, and other various uncle and aunt types. There was a significant absence, poorly explained. And in that person's stead, my ex of many many moons ago arrived. It was nice to see her, actually. No, I mean it. I bear no ill will, we were both pretty young and stupid when shit went bad all those years ago. Still, not the person I expected to see striding in to S&D at 10pm. After taking a few people's dollars and a heart to heart with mommapoet, drove back to the parents' place and crashed.

Got up early to start moving stuff down to Schedule1's place. That's right, beeches. It's Brooklyn time. Except, of course, that the homestead provides internet. And Manhattan has Knucklehead. So while my stuff is finding a home, and I'm reunited under the roof with my brother from another mother, i'm kinda nomadic right now, and not liking it all that much. Coincidentally, if y'all got a line on a cheap office space, lemme know. And when I say cheap, I mean, like, I can make them my vodka sauce and they'll be down.

After moving a load and general mischief making, I returned to the homestead for the 'rents anniversary. Excpet Dad wasn't feeling so well, so the celebration got toned down. But then, time for a new celebration. My older Irish brother has returned back triumphantly from the dessert. Trips to familiar places for onion rings, watching the Sopranos in shantytown, and general hillarity ensues. He's only back for two weeks, but man, is it great to see him. We're going upstate to Placid, which should be a blast as always. Nothing like the middle of nowhere to calm nerves.

I've been giving Knucklehead some room to finish her grading, as she's just been slammed with work, and I didn't want to be a distraction or frustration. Stopped by her place after a fun night out in Astoria with DBQGirl, and man, was poor Knucklehead wiped. I'm really looking forward to seeing her tomorrow, so long as I can kick this sinus infection. Last night and tonight was spent with my Irish brothers.

Recommendation: Roland Kirk. Herbie Mann. Go to Norman's Sound and act like you know. Norman likes "The Inflated Tear" as a Roland Kirk disc.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

tearful goodbyes...

Awww. Andrew Card resigns, tearfully telling Chucklenutz, "You're a good man, Mr. President, and you do great things."

"He thought it might be time to return to private life," Mr. Bush said, adding that he had decided last weekend to accept Mr. Card's resignation.

Coincidentally, Truthout is reporting that Special Prosecutor Fitzgerald's second part of the investigation is almost done, and he will certainly seek more INDICTMENTS! While Card's name has not necessarily been floated as an a special Fitzmas honoree, I usually don't think in terms of coincidences with this regime.

I just hope Fitzmas happens before Pesach, because all my Fitzmas candy is not Kosher for Passover.

...and indignant lies

After angrily telling Helen Thomas "No President wants war," the Judy Miller, Wiretap hiding, Sudan advertising Times reported yesterday on a SECOND British Government memo (the first Downing Street memo, reported by the UK's Sunday Times in May 2005, that in late July of '02, the course for war was set and "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy"). The new memo, dated roughly six weeks before bombing starts, includes presumptions of war (even if no WMDs are found) and new and exciting ways to provoke war:

"During a private two-hour meeting in the Oval Office on Jan. 31, 2003, he made clear to Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain that he was determined to invade Iraq without the second resolution, or even if international arms inspectors failed to find unconventional weapons,"
"Our diplomatic strategy had to be arranged around the military planning," David Manning, Mr. Blair's chief foreign policy adviser at the time, wrote in the memo that summarized the discussion between Mr. Bush, Mr. Blair and six of their top aides. 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."
Without much elaboration, the memo also says the president raised three possible ways of provoking a confrontation. Since they were first reported last month, neither the White House nor the British government has discussed them.

"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."

My guess is that Helen Thomas should start wearing a disguise to the White House Press Room, because she will never be called on again. And that's a shame, because the Grand Dame' of the White House press corps has been the only one in there with the courage to consistantly stand up to Chucklenutz and Scotty. These hucksters were yelling and screaming for Clinton's blood. Listen, i can't stand Clinton. But which is the high crime? Lying about an affair? Or misleading us into war, sending thousands of our kids to die and be injured for life while wiretapping us and trying to search our homes illegally? Five years later, the press starts to vaguely wake up from its coma, and now all Chucklenutz does is complain about the media being out to get him. You got a four plus year free pass, buddy. Give it a rest.

And he's still getting a free pass. This story is buried on the Times's site. It took me 10 minutes to find it, and I KNEW it was there. It's really amazing to me that this story of GLOBAL importance disappeared from the Times webpages so quickly. Why report this story and bury it?

Sunday, March 26, 2006

My hero. Or at least one of them.

Ever since working with him for nearly 2 years, I've had a lot of love for BV. Now, before he figures out where's going to law school, he's doing something absolutely incredible. He drove down to New Orleans, is volunteering down there and documenting it all here. I'm adding it to the links as well. Please take a look, and let him know I sentcha. Seriously, the pictures are just unreal and remind us just how much we have to do to save New Orleans and ourselves.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

This is what happens...

... when I don't hang with Shamirpower. I miss her insight, her guidance, her perspective, her updates on her life... and I miss my favorite (living) Senator on my favorite fake news show...

hat tip: Crooks and Liars

Stewart: ... and I hope your colleagues still let you sit at the lunch table with them.
another Crooks and Liars media clip, this time, Keith Olbermann knocks the crap out of Chucklenutz and Laura Ingram.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Only 17 minutes LEFT!!!

in World Poetry Day. And I wouldn't have known if it wasn't for the intrepid BZ, getting his AP physics kids AND his Music of Physics kids to write poetry. While the American definition of a haiku is it must be 5-7-5, I would point out that often times, haiku are less syllables and in different number schemes. The most important aspect of a traditional haiku is the involvement of nature in some way. For example:

You, walking away,
more beauty in my sky
than any sunset.

or perhaps, for BZ,

falling leaves crumple
underfoot, resonating
autumn sounds and sights


physics is like love
explains why you float and stay
grounded to earth.

first post...

in the tradition of BZ, i'm happy to report that this is my first post from my new laptop. Yay!

the Times strikes again...

Ah, the New York Times. The wire tap burying, Judy Miller grandstanding, Ahmed Chalabi publishing, red sox owning New York Times. Yeesh. Every day, the New York Times reminds me of that Ani DiFranco line from "Every State Line":
"someone willing to settle for america'cause there's nowhere else to go"

The Times is not the Daily News or Post. It gets some things right... but it infuriates me when it gets things wrong, which is a lot more often.

How the fuck do you accept an advertising section from a country that's sponsoring genocide within its own borders? My man Ariel Beery picked this up yesterday, and Shamirpower lemme know about it.

Nicholas D. Kristof, one of your writers, has spilled gallons of ink on this topic, a one man light on this darkness when Chucklenutz won't even SAY THE WORD DARFUR. And you think its a good idea to take money from this regime? You're profitting from a country committing genocide on hundreds of thousands, even sending armies into OTHER COUNTRIES for this slaughter, and that's okay with you? To send a section of your newspaper out to every reader, slap the New York Times name on it, and say, yes, this is okay! This is great! We, the New York Times, aceept this as advertising within our paper, and it even looks like one of our sections?!?!?!

Even Rupert Murdoch knows better than this.

While Ariel and I don't agree on everything, he's a good, thoughtful cat, and has got them dead to rights on this one.

dead to rights...

As we enter year 4 of the Iraq war, Chucklenutz tries to back away from he and his administration's constant link between the two in the drumroll to war. Thankfully, one of my favorite Cornell alums, Keith Olbermann, has this one covered. Hat tip to Crooks and Liars.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Chucklenutz's lawyers want to see your home, without a warrant.

Thanks to Rico, here's the US News article. Going to print tomorrow. Was hoping for a little more meat to it, but it connects the dots:

"In December, the New York Times disclosed the NSA's warrantless electronic
surveillance program, resulting in an angry reaction from President Bush. It has
not previously been disclosed, however, that administration lawyers had cited
the same legal authority to justify warrantless physical searches. But in a
little-noticed white paper submitted by Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to
Congress on January 19 justifying the legality of the NSA eavesdropping, Justice
Department lawyers made a tacit case that President Bush also has the inherent
authority to order such physical searches. In order to fulfill his duties as
commander in chief, the 42-page white paper says, "a consistent understanding
has developed that the president has inherent constitutional authority to
conduct warrantless searches and surveillance within the United States for
foreign intelligence purposes." The memo cites congressional testimony of Jamie
Gorelick, a former deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, in
1994 stating that the Justice Department "believes, and the case law supports,
that the president has inherent authority to conduct warrantless physical
searches for foreign intelligence purposes."


Gorelick, huh? Wonder if that particular deputy attorney is related to Kenny G. I fucking hate Kenny G with a passion.

Some fun highlights from the article:
1) Notice how they (the administration) slickly set it up so they can try to pin it back on Clinton? How much you want to bet that's the first thing out of _________ fill in the blank Repugnacan talking heads Monday afternoon. Chris Matthews will be foaming about how "well, a Clinton official came up with it, why weren't these members of congress so angry then?"

2) Despite their claims that their illegal wiretapping is legal, seems they know it's illegal too:

White House lawyers, in particular, Vice President Cheney's counsel David
Addington (who is now Cheney's chief of staff), pressed Mueller to use
information from the NSA program in court cases, without disclosing the origin
of the information, and told Mueller to be prepared to drop prosecutions if
judges demanded to know the sourcing, according to several government officials.
Mueller, backed by Comey, resisted the administration's efforts. "The White
House was putting pressure on Mueller to broadly make cases with the
intelligence," says one official. "But he did not want to use it as a basis for
any affidavit in any court." Comey declined numerous requests for comment.
Sources say Mueller and his general counsel, Valerie Caproni, continue to remain
troubled by the domestic spying program. Martin, who has handled more
intelligence-oriented criminal cases than anyone else at the Justice Department,
puts the issue in stark terms: "The failure to allow it [information obtained
from warrantless surveillance] to be used in court is a concession that it is an
illegal surveillance."

3) We see even further the importance of a certain AG not being placed under oath YET AGAIN:

On February 6, Patrick Leahy, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee,
asked Gonzales whether the NSA spying program includes authority to tap E-mail
or postal mail without warrants. "Can you do black-bag jobs?" Leahy asked.
Gonzales replied that he was trying to outline for the committee "what the
president has authorized, and that is all that he has authorized"--electronic
surveillance. Three weeks later, Gonzales amended his answer to Leahy's
question, stating that he was addressing only the legal underpinnings for the
NSA surveillance program but adding: "I did not and could not address
operational aspects of the program, or any other classified intelligence

4) BZ, Shamir, ER, somebody correct me... isn't it in the Talmud where silence means agreement?:

At least one defense attorney representing a subject of a terrorism
investigation believes he was the target of warrantless clandestine searches. On
Sept. 23, 2005--nearly three months before the Times broke the NSA story--Thomas Nelson wrote to U.S. Attorney Karin Immergut in Oregon that in the previous nine months, "I and others have seen strong indications that my office and my home have been the target of clandestine searches."

When Nelson filed a FOIA with the NSA, he received a great form letter rejecting, containing in part the following reasoning:

However, because of the highly classified nature of the program, we can
neither confirm nor deny the existence of records responsive to your
request. The fact of the existence or non existsnce of responsiveness
records is a currently and properly classified matter in accordance with
Executive Order 12958, as amended.


Read for yourselves, folks. Let's see how they denigrate Russ Feingold this week.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Words, y'all... Newshit!

My city has a lengthening emptiness.

in plywood
unfit to breathe

the exhaust fumes from your kitchen,

no less hide the neon
your presence,

your hulking husk
dwindles daily.

Spectral monuments
in minds arteries
that roared
standing ovations
growl epithets
at Wall St. Winos and tourists
on motorized hectacycles.

Working class relics
relegated to
rumpus rooms and rummage sales.

It's not just about a cheap tasty meal,

it's about a way of life,
on an island that once
had everything,
slowly receding
to charred remains.

Ending Shabbas tastily, V for Very Close to more than good...

US News is awful quiet, the story hasn't hit yet. Ah well. We'll wait till Monday...

In the meantime, after weekend after weekend after weekend of insanity, this one has somewhat calmed a little... KZB was great in BROOKLYN last night. Got to chill with some of the Park Slope minyan crew and be excited about the BK davening possibilities. Ahavatcafe has good t'ings to say about the new BK minyan, we'll see... after that, Knucklehead and I hit up Brother Don's feature spot in Williamsburg. Really chill bar named Stain on Grand Ave, very much recommend it (nice selection of root beers there). Nice poetry spot, very chill, very attentive audience... decided to drop something for the crowd, even though I wasn't fully packing... stumbled on a MUCH OLDER version of Why2K, which the crowd still appreciated... wow, on the third anniversary of this war, I'm soon going to have to write a Mr. 3000 poem or something. The other feature poets that read were great, and I'm hoping to get out to that spot again, and soon. Course, with so many great shabbas things happening with regularity, that ain't easy. Finally, as Buddy turned the big 2-8, joined him, Lady Buddy, Buddy's sister, the Nefarious Ones, and, of course, Schedule 1, for the festivities. Funky little bar on E 9th st. Once we pushed past the rowdy front bar st. patty's day crowd into the second room, it was real cool.

Today, while Knucklehead was at the Dar, I slept and tried to get my phone to actually work... A very chill lunch and afternoon ensued, with Knucklehead trying to catch up on her rest. We decided we'd walk down to Hell's kitchen through the park, and find a place for dinner. Went to what Knucklehead called "the thinnest restaurant I've ever been in" a place called Basilica. Italian place on 9th Ave between 46th and 47th, and delicious! Zucchini friti in large circles and not strips, with a fra diavolo sauce with it. Her Ravioli was great, and my Penne Vodka con Pollo was tasty, but perhaps the highlight of dinner were these garlic roasted potatoes that were just perfect. A huge tasty goblet of chocolate mousse rounded out the feast. Knucklehead then walked me to the theater to meet the crew to see V for Vendetta, and she headed back to get a headstart on work.

I liked it. Without giving anything away, i thought it was a worthwhile flick... but while it was decent, it could've been very good, even great, except, well... they'd do well to show instead of tell when it comes to movie. A little less bludgeoning us on the head with extraneous details would've been wonderful, thanks.

Speaking of show, not tell, new piece going up in front of this one... guess seeing Don helped the juices...

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Hmm... so, is Russ Feingold so crazy now?

This couldn't wait till the end of Shabbas. On Countdown last night, Keith Olbermann had Jonathan Turley, Professor of Constitutional Law of GW University, on last night to discuss a piece that will be online on US News and World Report that the administration tried to push beyond warentless wiretaps to warentless home searches. Ah, just in time to see V for Vendetta (hat tip to mcjoan and chamonix (who provided the unofficial transcript), both on Kos):

Olbermann: (reading from a U.S. News & World Report press release) "Soon after the September 11, 2001 terror attacks, lawyers in the White House and the Justice Department argued that the same legal authority that the same legal authority that allowed warrentless electronic surveillance inside the US, could also be used to justify physical searches of terror suspects homes & businesses without court approval."
Olbermann: Doesn't that send chills down your spine?

Turley: Well it does. It's horrific, because what that would constitute is to effectively remove the 4th Amendment from the U.S. Constitution and the fact that it was so quick as a suggestion shows the inclinations, unfortunately, of this administration. It treats the Constitution as some legal technicality instead of the thing were trying to fight to protect. Notably, the U.S. News & World Report story says the FBI officals, or some of them apparently, objected... [W]e're seeing a lot of people in the administration with the courage to say "Hold it, this is not what we're supposed to be about. If we're fighting a war, it's a war of self definition and if we start to take whole amendments out of the Constitution in the name of the war on terror-we have to wonder what's left at the end, except victory."

Olbermann: (reading from the press release) "According to 2 two current and former government officals . . . the Bush administration lawyers presented the arguments to senior FBI officals who expressed strong reservations about their proposal. . . . It could not be determined whether any warrentless physical searches had been carried out under the legal authority cited by the administration, but at least one defense attorney representing a terrorism suspect has alleged that his law office and home may have been searched without a court warrant."

Olbermann: The attorneys office and home not the suspect's office and home. Is there away to overstate this? When you start to talk about the 4th amendment and protections of constitution verses the needs to try to track down terrorist, you can move very quickly into tin-foil hat zone. When you sound totally Paranoid-like they're spying on us through our walls, but is this not the first thing you would see if you did some sort of... prequel to the book 1984, wouldn't this be somewhere in the 1st chapter?

Turley: I'm afraid it would. This is something to be very concerned about. These are not trival matters. We've seen a sort of broad-based assault on basic Constitutional rights in our country since 9/11. We have a President who ordered electronic surveillance by the NSA without warrants in something that constitutes a federal crime. Congress isn't even holding serious hearings on that. So we have a system that has checks & balances but none of them seem to be working. At the same time, as we noted earlier, we have an attack on the Judiciary itself, all of this should present a picture of concern for any American.

yeah, maybe some Democrats will eat their wheaties over the weekend, listen to eye of the tiger, take some madam pomfrey bone grow potion and hit the ground running on Monday with a new-found spine in tact. Will link the US News and World Report story once its out.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

stand tall, Russ, the people are with you!

So much for Feingold's actions being those of a man who's out of touch. The American Research Group completed a poll from 3/13-15 of 1100 participants and found out the following: 46% of those interviewed FAVOR CENSURE. 44 % do not, and 10% are undecided. Now, if you ask me, that's a lot closer than 1 percent or 2 percent. Even with the 3 percent margin of error, sounds like half the country thinks this is a good idea. If you make it voters, it goes up to 48 % in favor, 43 % oppose. And hey Democrats, this part is for you: SEVENTY PERCENT OF DEMS polled said we should Censure chucklenutz. SEVENTY PERCENT. FOR G-D SAKES, HAVE SOME SPINE AND DO SOMETHING! Even 29 % of REPUBLICANS think so. Wow.

Here's the report. Eat it, fools. liberal media bias, my ass.

Don't they sound like Bill Frist to you?

Secret deals to change the number of votes a "certain classification" of bill from simple majority to 80%? But a simple majority of a committee can decide whether or not the bill falls under that classification? And no approval of these changes from the full body?

Sadly, we're not talking about the United States Senate. We're talking about the Conservative movement.

Some friends suggested privately that perhaps I was a little too strong languaged against the Conservative movement in my response calling them craven cowards who should not have to wonder why younger progressive jews don't want to hang around their shuls...

it turns out it's even worse than I thought. On Jewschool, the Rooftopper Rav lowers the boom on the supreme shadiness:

he first hint that anyone– including most garden variety Conservative rabbis– got that something shadier had gone down came in a New York Times article published the day after the meeting. There, Rabbi Kass Abelson, head of the law committee, declared that the Tucker teshuvah (the most lenient option under consideration, though he didn’t mention it by name) was so “revolutionary” that a simple majority of the committee had voted– against the author’s wishes, as was later discovered– to turn the teshuva into a “takanah.” (The Conservative Movement seems to use the word takanah to mean “a really big decision” rather than its usual technical sense.) And, lo and behold, it just so happens to be that last year a small group of rabbis pushed through an (illegal) change to the Rabbinical Assembly’s constitution upping the number of votes needed by the law committee to approve a takanah from 13 (a simple majority) to 20 (80%). Thus, for all intents and purposes, the Tucker teshuva as written is dead in the water– there’s precisely no chance that it could garner 80% of the committee’s votes. Rabbi Abelson noted in the Times article that the law committee had not approved a single takanah in the 20 years he had served on the committee– and that was before the 80% rule was in effect.

And from the Forward article the RR sites:
Many movement rabbis say that they were unaware of the rule change until last week, when the law committee decided to apply the 20-vote threshold to a sweeping opinion that seeks to overturn the movement's ban on homosexual sex. Other rabbis have further objected to the law committee's decision to delay voting on the gay issue until December, after the terms of five out of the law committee's 25 voting members — including four expected to vote for reform — are set to expire.

Ah, I see. This is the worst kind of petty politics that has nothing to do with, wait, what was that Conservative movement language? Oh yeah, "We emphatically recognize the human dignity (k’vod habriot) of all such individuals, and invite them to participate within our religious communities." Such bullshit. Make it impossible to get a fair vote, but at least delay the vote until four votes you know are going to be against you are off the board.

This flouting of the rules would make Tom Delay proud. How could they possibly expect anyone who's LGBT or a straight ally to hang around after all this? The sad part, Conservative movement, is that people don't wish they could quit you. But you're pushing them to do it anyway.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

G-d bless you, Tom Harkin...

Momma K likes that asshole Chris Matthews. While I can't stand, he's reporting good news: The Senator from Iowa joins my favorite Jewish guy in the Senate to censure Chucklenutz for spying on us all. Will post more when I have it...

Who knew I'm this, apparently...?

take a gander at personal dna... i hear its all the rage!

Apparently, I'm an advocating thinker. Too bad blogger won't let me post the cool little multcolored graphic.

(edit: for full disclosure, this thing is schedule1's baby. but it's cool, and thousands of folks are taking it. ch-ch-check it out)

Friends in my places...

Hey all. Just wanted to make sure you noticed I added a few friends to the side. Please make sure to stop by and say hi, and tell em Ruby K sentcha!

Abacaxi Mamao- very insightful blog from a very insightful friend, ALG. Fantastic read!
AhavatCafe- another great friend of mine, who i think likes coffee, and apparently, according to her last post, likes kermit too!
ZT- Had the privellege of meeting young ZT in DC while staying with him and FJD, and the rest, as they say, is history. Jew stuff and Progressive political stuff from a my boy who's fighting the fight with BIG LABOR!

And hey, speaking of friends, in the continuing saga of how the Jewish establishment seems quite good at turning potential breakthroughs into shit, here's an article from my friend Ben Murane and Ilana Sichel about the failure of Hillel's Spitzer Forum on Public Policy/JCPA Plenum to actually tackle social justice in a real meaningful way that treats young Jews, not as window dressing or puppets, but as partners:

"Last week Avraham Infeld, president of the Jewish campus organization Hillel, rightfully stated that tzedakah is easier than tzedek. The difference between charity and justice, he pointed out at the Spitzer Forum on Public Policy/JCPA Plenum, is the difference between providing essentials like food or clothing and dealing with the root causes of poverty and inequality.

Infeld's insight was so right. Why, then, was Hillel's Spitzer Forum, which was ostensibly committed to social justice, so very wrong?

According to the conference literature, the forum's priority was to "make the connection between being a responsible citizen and a responsible Jew, by exploring social justice work through a Jewish lens." But what we experienced during this three-day bonanza was a culture of luxury, condescension and half-hearted commitments that was embarrassingly inconsistent with the mission. The apparent contradiction of hosting a social justice convention in a four-star hotel, the insulting infantilization of students, and the noticeable failure to address the structural inequities within the Jewish state, prompted us to question not only how Hillel defines social justice, but how it is training the next generation of Jewish leaders. "

Read the full article in the Forward here.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Fatte onore al Purim...

So, as with what happens with most of craziest times, I've fallen behind on blogging... crazy what happens to you once you take on a full time job you care about, right? When things are coming together with it a little more, I'll go into more detail, dear readers.

But my night of Purim debauchery, while it ended with me feeling like I had accomplished all the partying I could, was pretty much bereft of any real debauchery. Unless you count stealing all the blankets from Knucklehead as debaucherous. But it all starts Thursday night...

Thursday night, Knucklehead and went to Shamirpower's vanderful birthday party. While no photographic evidence exists that we were there, you can check out Shamir's pix on her bloggy blog. One thing that always impresses me about Shamir is her posse is even larger than mine... and I pride myself on knowing hordes of good people. As I see her, floating around, catching people for a few moments here and there, it's kinda surreal, as I think, man, so that's what it's like to be a guest at a party like this. Latkepalooza and my birthday party were both packed with people, and I love this, but it also means I barely see any of them. Knucklehead and I hang for an hour or two, then go back to her place to prepare for Shabbas. See, we're going to a potluck friday night, and having people over for Shabbas lunch, so it's time to start cooking. 3 main dishes and two sides later, it's now pretty darn late and time for bed.

Friday night is Anarchist Shabbas birthday dinner/jam for Shamir. Kabbalat Shabbat in anarchist form, all sorts of crazy tunes and different order, two guitars, two drums and a saxophone, all squished into Shamir's tiny apt. Thanks for being born, Shamir! And bringing your awesomeness to us in the form of Anarchist Shabbas. Any service where afterwards, BZ tells you it makes him feel like he's "stodgy", you know its turning things on its head. Then, more food, cake, jamming. Got to play "What's love got to do with it" with Aliza Hava, and make all sorts of music with her, BZ and AFR. Also got to know Arak, slivovitz's israeli cousin, with AB. A good, nice, late time was had by all. Even by Shamir's nephew, who at 8 months old is going to be a great drummer!

Saturday morning, hauled my carcass out of bed for the Dar, as Knucklehead was delivering a great dvar torah on Amalek. And she did. Now, she claims that she's going to start her own blog and post it there. I'll believe it when I see it. But it definitely wrestled with the difficulty of Amalek and how we as Jews fit into the world. Hopefully she'll let me post it here, or will actually put it up. This is an open challenge to you, baby. :-) Saturday afternoon, we got to have lunch with a few great friends, including two that BETTER NOT BE MOVING TO NORTH CAROLINA. Tasty, thought and laugh provoking, good stuff. And always psyched when old friends come across the park, bearing their sense of humor and dessert.

After rousing Knucklehead from her nap, and fighting our way through the subways, we made it to the Nefarious Ones' place in Brooklyn for dinner with them and the Buddys. And man, was it awesome. Felt like we hadn't seen the Buddys in a long looooooooong time, and always great to see the Nefarious Ones as well. Plus, the Nefarious One not only made a delicious pesto parmesan pasta dish, but she rolled her own truffles! Man. So good. We failed in our decision to drink less wine than we did the last time we were there... last time, we had 5 bottles for 5 of us, this time, 7 bottles for six of us. And I also learned that while I know a thing or two about whiskey, I'm totally inadequate when it comes to wine. When in doubt, I go with funny looking labels/names. But they ended up being two very tasty reds. Almost went with a Pinot Noir that was in a box out of old times sake, but thought better of it.

One would think that my saturday night would end there, but it didn't. In the hopes of catching either one or both of the birthday parties happening on the premises, I hopped out of the cab that was taking the sleepy tipsy Knucklehead home (in fairness, she got up several hours before me to finish up her dvar torah) to head towards Leisure Time Bowling. While I missed NF's shinding, the fabulous Rookface was still there, posse in full effect, with Schedule1 representing. Rookface is my buddy who's an incredible jazz singer and all around awesome chick. Of course, someone as cool as that also has a phat crew, and I got to have a bunch of laughs with them over strikes, spares, gutters and brews. Not only that, even got to meet Rookface's older sister, who's every bit the laugh riot Rookface is. And after many of the folks decided to call it a night, I had the pleasure of sitting at the Westway diner with the sisters Rookface until 3 something in the morning. Such a blast.

And sunday? Sunday, Knucklehead and I made hamentashen with a bunch of friends. Of course, hamentashen making started as a two hour event... and ended up lasting about 7 hours, including dinner and a festive game of apples and apples. I even sauteed up some shallots (thanks Shamir!) and mushrooms to make savory hamentashen (which i thought came out well, for the record). Schedule1 made a nutella and popcorn hamentash which I also approved of.

Felt so completely run down yesterday (I must be getting sick) that through much of the day I just felt positively awful. Did make it to the Dar's megilah reading (couldn't miss BZ's maariv!!!) with Knucklehead and I going as Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Afterwards, we went to Kush for dinner, as it says in the story... well, actually, we took to an Ethiopian restaurant, and I got to sit under a portrait of His Imperial Majesty, which got a few jokes out of ER. I was most impressed with BZ and crew, who took Pie day to the extreme: Cow Pie, the Pied Piper, Pie in the Sky, American Pie, Sweetie Pie, and my personal fave, Pecan Pie. Of course, many of these played off puns, with LL making a giant Goya can and having green baloons (representing Peas) coming out, and MB bringing a pie-rat for him to pipe away.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Rare breed of Democrat discovered in Senate... with a spine.

Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, who has definitely earned my forgiveness over his 2001 mistake, is going to introduce a measure today in the Senate that would censure Chucklenutz over his domestic eavesdropping. Nice to see some action of this kind after the Repugnicans fell into line last week.

From the man's press release himself:
“The President must be held accountable for authorizing a program that clearly violates the law and then misleading the country about its existence and its legality,” Feingold said. “The President’s actions, as well as his misleading statements to both Congress and the public about the program, demand a serious response. If Congress does not censure the President, we will be tacitly condoning his actions, and undermining both the separation of powers and the rule of law.”
Feingold's also got a great fact sheet about this bullshit wiretap program, complete with quotes from Chucklenutz public speeches where he's completely lying to the public about what's going on.

So here's my question: when is this going to matter to Repugnicans? I know a few conservatives, some of them have brains in their heads and are as serious about liberty as we all are. When do the actions of this administration wake them up? Does it make me a sad person that somewhere inside me, I have some hope?

Sunday, March 12, 2006

NHC Chesapeake Recap!!!

Okay, okay, so I realize that I'm a week late with this, but it's just been a crazy week. Holy crap, it's really just been a week?

Thanks to some last minute scrambling, Knucklehead's patience in my decision making, and some very lovely friends, Knucklehead and I made the four hour trek down to the Pearlstone Retreat Center "outside Baltimore" to spend the weekend with a bunch of our NHC buddies and do some awesome Jewish tings. Of course it was a FABULOUS time.

We stopped on the way down in Philly ever so briefly to pick up SGG (who joined us on the retreat at the last moment. YAY!) and slogged our way through the Philly rush hour traffic, making it just in time to steal a piece of "Delicious Shabbos Chicken" (tm) off the plate of my Favorite Jewish Drummer, and see a bunch of our buddies for the tail end of Shabbas dinner. Next, off to the Months room for singin! Lemme tell ya something, if you're looking for some cool, off the beaten path, awesome new/old Jewish songs to sing, SB is the woman for you to see. Rumor has it she runs a mean literary festival, too. Be on the lookout for a DC Jewish music festival in May, as well. I got to learn from SB twice, as I hit up her general singing program and learned two new Purim songs, one in Italian (!) and one in Ladino (for all the judios out there).

We missed Kabalat Shabbat, but managed to get up nice and early for morning shabbas services, which were led by ER and then EM and it was awesome to be in the Havurah community for saturday morning services, as its a really wonderful space for prayer, it really feels like community, and it's something I miss on Saturdays. The wonderful folks from Zoo Minyan brought gender balanced Torah blessings (where G-d is both feminine and masculine), and they had never heard someone doing the balanced blessings in Ashkenaz hebrew (so I got some love for that) After lunch and Purim singing, moseyed around and then took a nap. Seudah Shlishit was awesome, much singing and pounding on the table ensued. And during bentching, we also did gender balanced prayer, and everyone got to shout out HAMASHICHA! which gave me some hope. :-)

After a great havdalah service, we proceeded downstairs for the Vulgar Bulgars and contra dancing. The Vulgar Bulgars are absolutely awesome. They started the dancing part of the show off with UNION MAID(!) which was an absolute gas. They were really versatile, mixing freilichs with irish folks tunes. Very impressive. After the called dancing subsided, they embarked on a great set of klezmer. They even let FJD use their kit as he, BZ and I jammed on some funky versions of some yidden tunes and a fun time with Dan Bern's Jerusalem. Hell, for some of the jamming, they even jumped in. And they ended up crashing with us and hanging out for the beer/cider infused after party. It was awesome. If you live anywhere near VA, keep an eye for them. Also during jamming, got reunited with my favorite fiddle player from the Institute. Can't wait to work out a klezmer jam for August!!!!

The best part of it all, of course, was the faces. Seeing FJD, Z, BEAN, LB, SB, S, EM, JN was awesome!!! And of course, with BZ, ER, Knucklehead and SGG there, it was a great combo of folks we get to see and people I usually have to wait a few months to see.

And props most of all go to JN, who put together and ran an amazing conference/retreat. So awesome! You done good. And while I'm not so hot on the bunkbeds, I did like the Pearlstone facilities (and liked the food so much better than at Franklin Pierce, I'm just saying).

And soon, very soon, I can register for the SUMMER INSTITUTE! WOO HOO! Actually, if I had the money, I could register now...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

You can't do shit by riding the fence.

Cowardly. Craven. Spineless. Gutless. Weak.

In a dereliction of duty that would've made Olympia Snowe and Chuck Hagel proud, the Conservative movement's "College of Cardinals, except without the smoke" (props to BZ) concluded its meeting in Maryland with a meek whimper.

The Committee on Jewish Law and Standards, after several years of debating, decided whether or not people who happened to be gay could be full members of the Conservative Jewish world by marrying their partners or serving their community as clergy. They decided.

They decided, emphatically and without hesitation, to wait 9 more months. At least.

While the Conservative movement's ranks slowly slip away, you can watch a parade of incredibly dynamic, brilliant, talented and committed people walk away from the Conservative movement over this issue. And while the Committee prolongs their day of judgement as long as they can, they duck their responsibility to lead the Conservative community.

This situation is emblematic of the non-responsiveness of the "movements" of Judaism. They want to know why we're forming our own minyanim? They want to know why we're going to independent shuls and havurot? Look real close:

Shma mina. Your inability to take a stand on such an important issue renders you ineffective moral leaders. In spite of the belief that we are all created in G-d's image, you have created second class citizens, and that does not fly. Agree with me, or don't, but failing to resolve this discriminatory matter while people's way of life hangs in the balance does you, me, the Conservative movement, and the Jewish People, a grave disservice. If you want the LGBT community and people of conscience to be a part of the Conservative movement, good. If you feel you must affirm the ban and maintain segregation, that's your decision to make. But stop jerking people around. If you tell us we don't have a place in your house, we get it. If you tell us you want us in, that's great. But telling us to just wait a little longer, no, I'm sorry, that ship has sailed, it's time to make a call. At least have the guts to affirm that you believe in this segregation, don't continue it by default.

Addressing your woeful inaction on this, and other, issues will do a lot more to affect your downturn than jews + jews = more jews programming. Shma mina.

Maybe I'm this angry because I used to consider myself a Conservative Jew and expect much better than this. To quote my man Boots Riley, "Take a look around and be for or against, but you can't do shit by riding the fence."

I may not have smicha, but you still don't get to piss on my back and tell me its raining.

UPDATE: Apparently, I'm not the only person to feel this way. Some of the clergy of Congregation Beth Simchat Torah, a wonderful LGBT friendly open shul in Manhattan, had this to add:

"This is an act of despicable cowardice. The silence is deafening. For too long the Conservative Movement has said to us as GLBT rabbis and laypeople – you are not welcome to be our rabbis, you are not welcome to be in our Movement as a family. This is bigotry in the name of religion. As a lesbian rabbi who could not go to JTS because of their anti-gay position, I say, enough is enough. Stand up for the full equality of gay and lesbian people in Judaism.”
Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum, Senior Rabbi

"As a Conservative Rabbi, I am deeply grieved by this failure to come to a decision that affirms gay and lesbian people as equal human beings. Right now, the policy of the Conservative Movement allows for discrimination against gay and lesbian people. I reject that policy – The current position is immoral. It does not reflect what I consider to be just and Jewish. I believe that halachah is dynamic enough to accommodate this change. I call upon my colleagues to affirm the right of gay and lesbians to serve as rabbis and cantors and to officiate at weddings for same-sex Jewish couples under the chuppah."
Rabbi Ayelet Cohen, Associate Rabbi

A bad motha...

2006 doesn't only seem to be the year of our civil rights dying, but also of some of our creative legends dying.

Gordon Parks, born in Kansas over 90 years ago. Amazing artist. First Black man to be a staff photographer for life, poet, novelist, essayist, screenwriter and director. My guess is, you've seen his awesoe film, Shaft.

Parks, Ray Baretto, and Wilson Pickett have already left us this year. Gordon Parks could either photograph Baretto and Pickett playing together, or put them together for the soundtrack of his next film.

Thank you, Gordon.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I bet you thought the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire was SO 20th Century...

... but it's not.

The National Labor Committee just sent out an emergency update about a fatal fire that took place towards the end of last month at the KTS Textile factory in Bangladesh. Turns out the main emergency exit was illegally locked. According to the NLC, the death toll is now 84, and it could climb as high as 200 or 300.

2 weeks short of the 95th anniversary of the Triangle Fire, and we're still hearing stories like this about sweatshops. Please check out the NLC update and email/fax the letter.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

News from the Ministry, and AK Steel's CEO pockets 2.3 million dollars while locking out workers...

If you happen to be near South Jersey this saturday, support the Stepan workers and show Zappy some love:

For locked-out Stepan workers
When: Saturday, March 4th, 2:00pmWhere: Outside Stepan plant, 2 Fourth Street, Fieldsboro, NJ.
Why: Stepan Company employees, members of UE Local 155, have been illegally locked-out since Jan 24th. Since workers there organized a union, this very profitable company has demanded a wage freeze and other give-backs. Federal and state officials are now investigating numerous possible legal violations.

Check out the Ministry if you need directions.

As i try to always give labor struggles a boost, found this on Marc McDonald's site:

AK Steel (which reported 2005 revenues of more than $5.7 billion) has once again locked out 2,700 union workers at its Middletown Works plant in Ohio, after their contract expired.

The company has been trying to reduce the workforce at the plant. It also aims to freeze the workers' existing pension plan and force workers to pick up a greater share of health-care costs, among other demands, according to ABC News.

However, there's one person who doesn't appear to have shared in the pain: AK Steel's CEO James L. Wainscott

According to, Wainscott pocketed compensation of $2,292,172 for the fiscal year that ended in 2004. Other top executives don't seem to be doing too shabby either.

Check out beggarscanbechoosers for more.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Louisiana, they're trying to wash us away.

Knucklehead got a me a little surprise, the cd called "Our New Orleans" a musical response to and fundraiser for Katrina. I've been listening to it all day. Incredible, gut wrenching stuff from a great list of artists, Allen Toussaint, Dr. John, Buckwheat Zydeco, the Dirty Dozen brass band, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, just a great mix. Go buy it. And after reading the AP wire, put the last track, Randy Newman's Louisiana 1927, on replay. Fitting that this news comes to light, seeing as a couple thousand people lose their rent/hotel subsudies today.

I'm beyond furious right now. Numb with it. This is the second time this administration has watched prior warnings go by the wayside, slept through them in their comfortable Crawford beds, and then claimed "No one could've known!" And to my two favorite cities in the world. Two bustling epicenters of mutlicultural life, music, art, genius. Two cities uniquely American. and this administration sleptwalk through the disasters that have ravaged them and slept walked through efforts to rebuild them.

A few days after Hurricane Katrina, the President was on ABC news claiming “I don’t think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees.”

Which is funny, because according to this video obtained by the Associated Press, that’s exactly what he was told before the hurricane hit by National Hurricane Center's Max Mayfield. According to the tapes obtained by the AP, he actually said, "I don't think any model can tell you with any confidence right now whether the levees will be topped or not but that is obviously a very, very grave concern,"

For the full story and video, fed to the Washington Post by the AP follow the link. Here are some of the lowlights:

In dramatic and sometimes agonizing terms, federal disaster officials warned President Bush and his homeland security chief before Hurricane Katrina struck that the storm could breach levees, put lives at risk in New Orleans’ Superdome and overwhelm rescuers, according to confidential video footage.

Bush didn’t ask a single question during the final briefing before Katrina struck on Aug. 29, but he assured soon-to-be-battered state officials: “We are fully prepared.”
Further on in the story, it seems that the government had the opportunity to deploy active millitary to back up the National Guard , but failed to do so:

"Chertoff: "Are there any DOD assets that might be available? Have we reached out to them?"

Brown: "We have DOD assets over here at EOC (emergency operations center). They are fully engaged. And we are having those discussions with them now."

Chertoff: "Good job."

In fact, active duty troops weren't dispatched until days after the storm. And many states' National Guards had yet to be deployed to the region despite offers of assistance, and it took days before the Pentagon deployed active-duty personnel to help overwhelmed Guardsmen."
Even horsewhisperer Brownie doubted the use of the Superdome as a good place to house people post hurricane:

"The Superdome is about 12 feet below sea level.... I don't know whether the roof is designed to stand, withstand a Category Five hurricane,"

Okay, so that's one foreign country in ruins, one region of this country devastated all to go along with napping through September 11th, all to go along with him illegally wiretapping us, him approving that a company owned by a state who's not been our best ally when it comes to terrorism run our ports, and this shit is just the surface.

How many more things is this guy going to destroy before 2009?

There are some folks out there who are no longer surprised, maybe not even angry anymore. But lie after lie after lie, I still have it in me to be angry. I just wish these same Republican buffoons in Congress who went after Clinton for an affair would go after Chucklenutz for dereliction of duty. This guy never met a vacation he didn't like, and was playing golf while the disaster HE KNEW WAS COMING unfolded for the rest of our horror. He is our Nero, ladies and gentlemen.

If you start from the place that everyone, somewhere inside them, has a bit of humanity, you have to wonder where that humanity is in the stakeholders in this society right now. But maybe this will be the alarm, like the Dubai deal, that continues to wake people up.

In the meantime, the Gulf Region is still in shambles.

Louisiana, Louisiana, they're trying to wash us away, they're trying to wash us away.

Are there enough targets in Afghanistan now?

Remember 2001? A rough year on New York to be sure. A rough year on the country, and on the decisionmakers, like the ones who wanted to link September to Saddam, the ones who told us there were no good targets in Afghanistan, the ones who gave the people we were chasing more than a month head start and sent one tenth the number of troops we sent to Iraq to Afghanistan (a country 200,000 square km more than Iraq).

Remember Afghanistan?

Now, in a story I heard a snippet of on the radio and could only find buried on the second or third page of the Washington Post online, Lieutenant General Michael D. Maples tells the Senate Arms Services Committee that the insurgency in Afghanistan posed as big threat. How big, Walter Pincus of WP?:

"The director of the Defense Intelligence Agency told Congress yesterday that the insurgency in Afghanistan is growing and will increase this spring, presenting a greater threat to the central government's expansion of authority "than at any point since late 2001."

"Despite significant progress on the political front, the Taliban-dominated insurgency remains a capable and resilient threat," Lt. Gen. Michael D. Maples said in a statement presented to the Senate Armed Services Committee at its annual hearing on national security threats.

Appearing with Director of National Intelligence John D. Negroponte, Maples said attacks within Afghanistan were up 20 percent between 2004 and 2005, suicide bombings increased "almost fourfold" and use of makeshift bombs, similar to those used in Iraq, had "more than doubled."
Negroponte, in his prepared remarks, acknowledged that "the volume and geographic scope of attacks increased last year," but he added, "the Taliban and other militants have not been able to stop the democratic process" being undertaken by the central government of President Hamid Karzai."

The full story here. Wow.