Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Hands of G-d

Hands of G-d

Whoever coined the phrase
G-d has no hands
but these

must have seen Uncle Jack's hands, I mean
they were hands fantastically crafted

for a fantastic craftsman.

Uncle Jack's hands
were huge.

I mean gargantuan.

Coconuts looked like raisins in them,

he could've platooned with Yogi
and saved the Yanks money on mitts.

His hands would've matched up favorably to Shaq,
Mutumbo, Andre the Giant and Sasquatch.

We didn't need to hear stories about Paul Bunyan,
all we could do is imagine how puny an axehandle must've looked in

Uncle Jack's hands.


In 29 years of fighting fires in the Bronx,

he must’ve at least sent one of the hook and ladder trucks

to the repair shop,

bending the metal wrungs like tin foil beneath his massive paw

while cradling a full grown man like an infant in the other.

I've never seen anything like them.

I'm sure glad I was always on the right side of them,
getting a warm hug as a nephew.

I never heard the story, but he must have knocked
SOMEBODY the fuck out with those things in raucous youth.

There are many people who should count themselves lucky
Uncle Jack

was a gentle giant

or there would be a few families who’s kids and grandkids would be missing teeth

Those hands were mythic!

He could wield Mars’s sword, John Henry’s hammer and

hold the torch

while the Statue of Liberty took a bathroom break.

They were like boulders with retractable stalagtites.
sledgehammers with opposable thumbs,
Walnuts would just open themselves out of respect, to save him the time and trouble.

The amazing things he would do with them:
bust his ass every day of his life to support his family

put out fires for the people of the Bronx
perfect his craft
teach and build sleds for his kids
play catch and tickle his grandkids (and grand-nephews and nieces).
hold the hand of his wife every day for 65 years

use them every day in every way possible to bring happiness to this world.

The surprising thing about them?

As big as they were, they still weren't big enough
to hold his heart.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Feingold: Marriage Ban Markup "An Affront to the Constitution"

Anyone catch our Senate Judiciary Committee at work today? Senator Arlen "I'm totally opposed to the gay marriage ban while I approved it" Specter not only voted for a constitutional amendment legislating discrimination back into the Constitution, but did it from the comfort of the President's Room, where there is not only extremely limited public access, but, according to our friends at the Human Rights Campaign, "does not even have enough chairs for every senator on the committee to sit."

But one Dem wouldn't sleepwalk through this crap. Russ Feingold walked on Specter's bullshit flip flopping, refusing to allow his presence to bring the committee to quorum. and issued the following statement. Because it is so good, I'm going to copy it verbatim and hope he runs for President:

May 18, 2006

“Today’s markup of the constitutional amendment concerning marriage, in a small room off the Senate floor with only a handful of people other than Senators and their staffs present, was an affront to the Constitution. I objected to its consideration in such an inappropriate setting and refused to help make a quorum. I am deeply disappointed that the Chairman of the Judiciary Committee went forward with the markup over my objection. Unfortunately, the Majority Leader has set a politically motivated schedule for floor consideration of this measure that the Chairman felt compelled to follow, even though he says he opposes the amendment.

Constitutional amendments deserve the most careful and deliberate consideration of any matter that comes before the Senate. In addition to hearings and a subcommittee markup, such a measure should be considered by the Judiciary Committee in the light of day, open to the press and the public, with cameras present so that the whole country can see what is done. Open and deliberate debate on such an important matter cannot take place in a setting such as the one chosen by the Chairman of the Committee today.

The Constitution of the United States is an historic guarantee of individual freedom. It has served as a beacon of hope, an example to people around the world who yearn to be free and to live their lives without government interference in their most basic human decisions. I took an oath when I joined this body to support and defend the Constitution. I will continue to fight this mean-spirited, divisive, poorly drafted, and misguided amendment when it comes to the Senate floor.”


Thank you Russ.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Amnesia Lane in the Plasti-city

Wow. I'm sitting across the street from where I worked 8 years ago. JN has graciously smuggled me into her office (no small feat) and I'm working on my remarks for the environmental panet in 2.5 hours. It was great to talk shop with her and AD, i feel good things coming. And may possibly spit at the open mic tonight, depending on my energy. If Nathan P were here, he'd have to tell me it's time to start "pickin up the energy" about a dozen times, i'm in a place where i'm fired up about the potential of this week but also so drained from the not sleeping. I don't know what I'm doing wrong, but I need to learn how to sleep better. Woke knucklehead up, sure she had slept through her alarm... and it was five am. Oy.

But seeing myfavoritejewishdrummer, zt, jn, sb, TL (CRESCENT!), and TheTastyOne will help lift my spirits. And it's kinda nice to be in another town for 11 seconds. Thankfully, I'll be home before i even remember how much i loathed it here in 98.

Looking forward to serving my official KZ role here friday at TLS.

Friday, May 12, 2006

We're in some serious trouble here, boys and girls...

Edit: Crooks and Liars has more conservative wake up calls, from Joe Scarborough and NEWT GINGRICH:

Joe Scarborough:
Now, for liberals who‘ve long been going against almost all of these issues to defend privacy, the news has to be disturbing. But no less so the conservatives who have fought national ID cards and gun registration for years out of fear of big government.

Now, whatever you consider yourself, friends, you should be afraid. You should be very afraid. With over 200 million Americans targeted, this domestic spying program is so widespread, it is so random, it is so far removed from focusing on al Qaeda suspects that the president was talking about today, that it‘s hard to imagine any intelligence program in U.S. history being so susceptible to abuse.

You know, I served on the Judiciary Committee and the Armed Service Committee in Congress for four years, and no program I studied while using security clearances ever came close to the scope of this massive spy program. It is dangerous, it breaks FCC laws, and it endangers all Americans‘ right to privacy.

Newt Gingrich (you may recognize him as the former Speaker of the House):
But I don’t think the way they’ve handled this can be defended by reasonable people. It is sloppy. It is contradictory, and frankly for normal Americans, it makes no sense to listen to these three totally different explanations.

I don't care what anyone may say, the new phone database program scares the shit out of me. Are we really to believe the claims of the government now, who have revised their story on this issue three times?!?! They claim that our names aren't attached to the numbers, and they're not listening in. We could go to a quote from our trustworthy attorney general for his thoughts on this (hat tip: mcjoan at the Kos):

In response to a question from Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) during an appearance before the House Judiciary Committee, Gonzales said the government would have to determine if a conversation was related to al-Qaeda and crucial to fighting terrorism before deciding whether to listen in without court supervision.
"I'm not going to rule it out," Gonzales said, referring to the possibility of monitoring purely domestic communications.

Crooks and Liars provides some Jack Cafferty dropping science:

Cafferty: We better all hope nothing happens to Arlen Specter, the
Republican head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, cause he might be all that
stands between us and a full blown dictatorship in this country. He's vowed to
question these phone company executives about volunteering to provide the
government with my telephone records, and yours, and tens of millions of other

Shortly after 9/11, AT7T, Verizon, and BellSouth began providing the
super-secret NSA with information on phone calls of millions of our citizens,
all part of the War on Terror, President Bush says. Why don't you go find Osama
bin Laden, and seal the country's borders, and start inspecting the containers
that come into our ports?

The President rushed out this morning in the wake of this front page
story in USA Today and declared the government is doing nothing wrong, and all
this is just fine. Is it? Is it legal? Then why did the Justice Department
suddenly drop its investigation of the warrantless spying on citizens because
the NSA said Justice Department lawyers didn't have the necessary security
clearance to do the investigation. Read that sentence again. A secret
government agency has told our Justice Department that it's not allowed to
investigate it. And the Justice Department just says ok and drops the whole
thing. We're in some serious trouble, boys and girls"

Not to sound like Pardsbane, but this is it, folks. We're crossing a new threshold. I mean, this is something most of us already suspected was going on. I'm not horribly shocked. But if we can get the existance of this program to see the light of day, then who knows what they're cooking up deeper inside. This government is planning to nuke another country and is collecting information on millions of Americans who are not suspected in any crimes. We're talking high crimes against the American people, the people of the entire planet.

More than ever, we need to wake people up...

or start packing.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Learning from Dr. Turner on what to call Haymarket

The Haymarket Massacre

120 years ago today, workers were peacefully rallying for workers rights and in outrage at the two workers murdered by police at the McCormick Harvesting Machine plant the day before. This demonstration occured at Haymarket sqaure in Chicago. Famed anarchist leader August Spies said, according to witnesses, that he was not there to incite anyone. Then about 170 police officers advanced on a mostly dispersed peaceful crowd of 200 with repeater rifles, demanding they disburse. Someone threw a bomb, and the police opened fire, killing 4 workers and injuring dozens more. One police officer was killed by the bomb, and 7 others later died, mostly from their own bullets.

Later, 8 leaders of important labor unions and anarchist organizations were selected to be tried for inciting the riot and murder. All 8, some of whom weren't even at the rally (Fischer was at a saloon), were tried and convicted. August Spies, Albert Parsons, Adolph Fischer, George Engel, Louis Lingg, Michael Schwab, Samuel Fielden, and Oscar Neebe were the leaders deemed guilty. Even the Chicago Tribune offered to pay the jury for a guilty verdict. All but Neebe wer sentenced to death. Illinois Governor commuted Fielden and Schwab's sentences to life in prison after pressure from the international labor community. Lingg blew off his own head with a dynamite cap, and the rest were hung on November 11, 1887. In June of 1893, the new governor of Illinois, John P. Altgeld freed the living men and concluded all 8 were innocent. He condemned the whole trial and judicial system.

Now, during one of my favorite and most difficult classes at college, The History of African American Political, Economic and Social Thought, Dr. James Turner (founding director of the Africana Studies Research Center at Cornell) started one of our very first classes by discussing what happened with Rodney King. And it was interesting that many of the white skinned people in the room referred to what happen afterwards as a riot. Our fellow black students would stop us and ask us why we were using that term riot, which implies a wildness without purpose. One suggested uprising or rebellion to describe it, as people were expressing their outrage at the verdict and the injustice of it.

Now, given the nature of the rally (peaceful) until marched on by police, that you have one person throwing a bomb and no evidence of everyone else there doing anything else except getting away from the batallion of police with rifles, i think calling Haymarket a riot does the memories of those workers shot and killed a grave disservice. Not only that, it also does the memories of those five leaders a grave disservice. All around the country, Haymarket was used as an excuse to shut down labor friendly papers, round up union leaders, and to slow down the 8 hour movement.

Henceforth, I will refer to the incident at Haymarket Square in Chicago on May 4, 1886, as the Haymarket Massacre.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

You say meme...

So, ALG tagged me, and the General did it, so as I often take my lead in life from the General, I'll follow suit:

Edit: BZ brought to my attention that I missed K. Which is particularly surprising given my name. It has been added below:

Accent: New York general, which turns Bronx if I get really mad (thanks, Momma K!)

Booze: yes please. My rewrite of the John Lee Hooker song: One Bourbon, One Bourbon, and One Bourbon. Scotch, sure, vodka, alright. Wine, yep. No beer, no gin, and tequilla and I had a falling out a long time ago.

Chores I hate: Moving Brain so he doesn't get a ticket/towed. Parking in the five boroughs sucks.

Dogs/Cats: Like em both fine, though never had a pet of my own. Schedule1 has two cute cats, and my Irish Catholic second fam always has a healthy supply of german sheppards around.

Essential Electronics: Cd player. I guess the cell phone too, now that I don't have a land line. And my cd player plays mp3 data discs, which will help keep me from buying an ipod till i can get one for five bucks in the used video game section.


Gold/Siver: Fair trade environmentally safe recycled jewelry. And if it can't be that, a plastic decoder ring.

Hometown: Well, I spent my formative years in Tarrytown, NY, though I'm prouder that I was born in NY hospital (like my entire nuclear family) and that I spent a lot of time in the Bronx growing up with my grandparents, uncle, cousins and whatnot. BEDROCK!

Insomnia: Well, I'm writing this because I can't sleep, what do you think?

Job Title: National Campaign Coordinator

Kids: Not yet. Have two beautiful nieces who remind me of the excitement that will be parenthood someday.

Living Arrangements: Either chillin the B-TO-THA-K with Schedule1 and afformentioned cats, crashing with Knucklehead and imposing on her patient and kind roommates, or visiting the 914 for the cooking, discussions, and the occasional well deserved verbal beatdown (meaning i deserve it).

Most Admired Trait: I don't know if this is most admired, but a lot of my friends seem to think I'm really outgoing and good at striking up conversations with new people.

Number of Books owned: You're kidding, right? My major in college was nicknamed I Love Reading. and I spent all my elective credits on government and english courses. you do the math.

Overnight hospital stays: I've been blessed not to have any of my own, but have had to see a few friends through the night.

Phobia: Heights. And someday soon I plan to skydive to alleviate that fear.

Quotes: "I don't want to go down fighting, I want to win" ---Esperanza, Salt of the Earth

"It's been too hard living, but I'm afraid to die, just because I don't know what's up there beyond the sky" --- Sam Cooke

"Be true to what you said on paper" --Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

"Never let they punk asses ever defeat you" ---Boots Riley

Religion: Jewish. You didn't pick up on that before? :-)

Silbings: One, two years older (ha!) and about 10 inches shorter (HAHA!) than me. :-)

Time I wake up: somewhere between 7am and 9am, depending on day of the week, moving the car, and how i slept.

Unusual talent: I can do pretty decent Louis Armstrong, Yoda, and Smiegel impersonations. Smiegel singing "Yah Ribon" is pretty awesome (prepping for my new album, Precious Shabbas)

Vegetable I refuse to eat: Brussel Sprouts; not too big a fan of raw tomatoes, though do just about anything to em and I'll eat em.

Worst Habit: procrastination. what is it about putting stuff off that is so appealing?

Yummy foods I make: Home Fries. Latkes. Vodka Sauce. Marinara sauce. Chicken Parmigiana (not that you'd know); Chicken Marengo. Matzah meal pancakes.

Zodiac Sign: Scorpio. And depending on who you ask, I embody all or none of the traits of the sign. Actually, funny story. Back when I was playing in my old reggae band, a few of the guys in the band were obsessed with this one psychic. We went to her house to pick up something, and I was in the room with her, polite, but not really saying anything. She asked me sign, I told her, and she said, you know, I was just about to say scorpio, you seem like a scorpio. Now I had heard that scorpios are supposed to be really secretive, which I'm not, so I said, "actually, i don't really think I have any of the qualities, personality wise" and without missing a beat, she says "oh, i meant in your physical form." riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiight

Anybody wanna do this thing? Lasttrumpet? ZT? Cheryl?

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

One haughty university down...

... many to go. Mazel tov to our sisters and brothers in Miami. Remember, folks, this is still not over. Because of the sad way american labor policy is structured, an organizing drive is not VICTORIOUS until there's a contract signed, so stay tuned and ready to continue this fight until the first contract is signed.

And we've still got fights on our hands at UVA, where the workers and students are still fighting for a living wage for all UVA employees, and at NYU, where the graduate employees are still fighting to be recognized again, after NYU president sexton's serious case of advanced alzheimers (behold, a new pharoah who didn't know shit).

Still, great news eminating from my least favorite state, where on a momentus May Day 2006, the Janitors and Groundskeepers of UM finally achieved card-check neutrality. From our sisters and brothers at Picketline:

We've won!!!!!

That's right, folks. It was announced this afternoon, at around 5pm, that UNICCO and SEIU have signed an agreement that will allow the workers to decide whether they want a union by means of a card check recognition process. Here are the bare bones of what was decided:

  • The agreement establishes a code of conduct governing how both the employer and the union will interact with the workers during the process. Both sides agree not to interfere with workers' decision whether or not to form a union.
  • A neutral, independent organization, the American Arbitration Association, will verify the results of the process to determine whether or not a supermajority of UNICCO janitors at the University of Miami wish to form a union.
  • Once AAA has independently verified that a supermajority of 60% of the janitors working for UNICCO have signed cards saying they want to form a union with SEIU, UNICCO has agreed to recognize (on the very same day) SEIU as the janitors' union.
  • Janitors have until August 1, 2006 to demonstrate a supermajority.
  • The agreement covers 410 janitors working for UNICCO on the campus of the University of Miami and UM's Jackson Memorial Hospital.
  • The striking janitors will return to work Wednesday, May 3, 2006.
  • Zoila Mursuli, the janitor union leader who had been fired by UNICCO, will be reinstated immediately. She will receive backpay for the weeks after she was fired before her co-workers went on strike.

Yeah UM workers! Congratulations on your hard fought victory. You're an insipriation to all of us.

Monday, May 01, 2006

May Day, Immigrants Rights, and Moses: putting it together.

4pm Eastern Time quickly approaches. Support immigrants rights, find a rally here or here, and attend it tomorrow.

A common toast among Jews is may you live to 120. 120 being the ripe old age Moshe Rabeinu was when he looked out over the Promised Land without actually getting to enter it. The idea behind the toast is not just may you have the length of years of Moses, but also may those years be filled with some fraction of the knowledge, wisdom, significance, and action Moses had in his life. May our 120 years be lively, just, meaningful years.

During the 120 years of Moses's life, we were immigrant workers, without rights, working in horrid conditions in return for meager resources. In the same way Pharoah didn't want to have to dip into his gold reserves to pay us, these modern day Pharoahs would rather exploit people than pay the 2 to 5 dollars more an hour in payroll taxes and health benefits. And just like these workers now, we built that country while yearning to be able to build our own lives.

120 years ago today, workers across the United States and Canada embarked on a national strike to establish the 8 hour work day. Two years prior, in 1884, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions (fore-runner of the American Federation of Labor), demanded that the work day, anywhere from 10 to 16 hours, be shortened to 8 hours, by May 1st, 1886. They tried negotiation, they tried legislation, but the bosses would not be moved. And so, word began to spread across the US and Canada that May 1st, 1886 would be a general strike for the 8 hour day.

On May 1st, 1886, over 340,000 workers in 12,000 factories across the US put down their tools and walked picket lines.Read more »

Stephen Colbert, my hero.

And I'm not just saying that because I once briefly appeared on the Colbert Report.

Watch him lower the boom on Chucklenutz, Deadeye Dick, Fox, Global Scorchig, the Wiretaps, Justice Scalia, everyone. Shit will have you laughing your ass off.

(hat tip: Mik @ jspot)

Edit: apparently, I'm not the only one who thinks this. so far, more than 17,000 people have signed their name to Thank You Stephen Colbert. You should too.