Monday, December 27, 2010

Profits trump safety and accountability in Gulf oil rig explosion

Here are two stories from Democracy Now! headlines this morning (Mon. 12/27) regading the failure of the system intended to protect the oil rig in the Gulf because profits took precedence over safety & the interference of the same companies with the investigation of the disaster.

Investigators: Involvement of Companies Undermining Oil Spill Probe

Report: All of Rig's Defense Systems Failed During Explosion

Monday, December 20, 2010

Hatred on the right: homophobia

Those on the right of the political spectrum today must find it very difficult keeping track of all the people they hate. Here are several comments made by right-wing Republicans in the immediate aftermath of the historic U.S. Senate vote last Saturday to repeal Don't Ask Don't Tell (DADT) and take a baby step toward making LGBT human beings American citizens. (These comments are from a correspondence I recently received from Michael Keegan of People for the American Way.)

Bryan Fischer of The American Family Association: "The new Marine motto: 'The Few, the Proud, the Sexually Twisted.' Good luck selling that to strong young males who would otherwise love to defend their country. What virile young man wants to serve in a military like that?"

Tony Perkins of The Family Research Council: "It is clear why this was done: not to enhance the military's ability to accomplish its mission or to enhance national security. Rather, it is a political payoff to a tiny, but loud and wealthy, part of the Democratic base."

Peter LaBarbara of Americans For Truth About Homosexuality: "If the lame-duck Congress succeeds in ‘gaying down' our military this weekend, it will take a disastrous leap toward “mainstreaming” deviant, sinful homosexual conduct."
I don't know what these people are smoking, but it seems to me that no one with a brain that hasn't turned to mush could possibly make such bigoted and utterly ignorant statements. These people and others like them are willing to undermine our security by making young men & women in the front lines mistrust the person next to them because of his or her homosexuality.As Rodgers & Hammerstein told us: "You have to be taught to hate and to fear."

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Inmates have Taken Over the Asylum: Airport Security

Here's what security technologist and author Bruce Schneier has to say in the NYT about airport security:i
A short history of airport security: We screen for guns and bombs, so the terrorists use box cutters. We confiscate box cutters and corkscrews, so they put explosives in their sneakers. We screen footwear, so they try to use liquids. We confiscate liquids, so they put PETN bombs in their underwear. We roll out full-body scanners, even though they wouldn’t have caught the Underwear Bomber, so they put a bomb in a printer cartridge. We ban printer cartridges over 16 ounces — the level of magical thinking here is amazing — and they’re going to do something else.

This is a stupid game, and we should stop playing it. (For more)
One thing that Schneier doesn't mention is that one of the most pervasive voices on the tube promoting the full-body scanners is former Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff. One thing Chertoff never mentions when he appears - as an expert - on these TV news shows is that one of the customers of his firm, The Chertoff Group, is the manufacturer of the full body scanners - Rapiscan. Conflict of interest you say. Ah well, that's capitalism. Here's a CNN video on Chertoff, Rapiscan & airport security. It's definitely worth a look

Monday, December 13, 2010

New York Film Critics choices for 2010

Best Film: The Social Network
Best Foreign Language Film: I Am Love
Best Director: David Fincher, The Social Network
Best Actress: Natalie Portman, Black Swan
Best Actor: James Franco, 127 Hours
Best Supporting Actress: Melissa Leo, The Fighter
Best Supporting Actor: Christian Bale, The Fighter
Ensemble Cast: The Kids Are All Right
Best Screenplay: Aaron Sorkin, The Social Network
Best Documentary: Exit Through the Gift Shop
Best Animated Feature: Toy Story 3
Breakthrough Performer: Noomi Rapace, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
Debut Director: John Wells, The Company Men
Best Cinematography: Matthew Libatique, Black Swan
Best Score: Clint Mansell, Black Swan

Thursday, December 02, 2010

"Let them eat cake!" said the Republicans

"Let them eat cake"
Although there's considerable disagreement as to which princess uttered these infamous words when told the peasants had no bread,
there is no question as to the callous imperiousness of this sentiment. It has now been surpassed in the words and deeds of today's Congressional Republicans. Here's what Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders said several days ago (on The Rachel Maddow show) about their actions,
The Republicans want to give billionaires in this country, people like Rupert Murdoch, a million dollars a year in tax breaks and yet they are balking , resisting providing unemployment compensation for people who have no jobs. I think that is just horrendous.
Well today they took the first step toward fulfilling their obligations to their millionaire masters. Their designated hit-man on this issue, Massachusetts Senator Scotty Brown said that he could only vote for the extension of unemployment insurance if it did not add to the deficit. Despite the fact that there is no question that extending unemployment insurance would help to stimulate the economy to a much larger extent than tax breaks for millionaires, no such concern about the deficit has impinged on the GOP's demands for tax breaks for the very rich.

So when the Republican Scrooges were told that the unemployed would have no bread for Christmas, they followed in the imperious footsteps of the unknown princess.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Dec. 1, 11:45 AM: Granny Peace Brigade - Kick off 2010 Peace Toy Campaign

Wed. Dec 1, 11:45AM

Meet north of the recruiting center near 44th and Broadway
to kick off the 2010 Peace Toy Campaign.

The Raging Grannies will also be there with songs.

Subsequent actions will be on Friday, Dec 10th and
Thursday, Dec 16th at the same place.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Did GOP's Cantor Commit treason?

The following is a story by Lawrence Davidson from detailing Congressmember Eric Cantor's devious attempt "to tell the Israeli Prime Minister that he and the Republican Party will use the power of the House of Representatives to protect Israel from U.S. government policy." Davidson believes this was a violation of the Logan Act. It seems to me that Cantor's attempt to undermine the power of the secretary of state and the president may very well be an act of treason. After all, whatever Mr. Cantor may think (if he thinks at all) Barack Obama is charged with carrying out U.S. foreign policy not either Cantor or the Republican/Tea Party. As we know from Shakespeare, hubris has never been the path to success. And Cantor seems imbued with overbearing arrogance.

Did GOP's Cantor Cross Line on Israel?

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Chronicles of capitalism

From today's (11/18) Democracy Now:

(1) Insurers Gave Chamber Over $86M to Defeat Healthcare Reform

Newly disclosed figures show the nation’s largest health insurance corporations funneled some $86.2 million to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to oppose healthcare reform last year. Companies including UnitedHealth and CIGNA provided the money through their main lobbying group, America’s Health Insurance Plans. The spending exceeded the group’s entire budget from the year before and accounted for 40 percent of the Chamber’s 2009 budget. The money was used to fund ads, polling and public events to stir opposition to the healthcare overhaul. An anonymous source confirmed to Bloomberg News that the money came from insurers because federal tax laws don’t require identification of donors. In a statement, the Center for Responsive Politics said, "Perhaps this key debate would have progressed differently if the true source of the chamber’s spending had been known at the time."

(2) Study: Lawmakers’ Personal Wealth Increased 16% in 2008

A new study shows members of Congress saw a boost in personal wealth as the U.S. economy suffered the worst of the economic recession. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, lawmakers’ personal wealth increased an average 16 percent between 2008 and 2009. The number of millionaires rose to 261, nearly half the total members of Congress. The median wealth of a House member topped $765,000, while the average for a senator was more than $2.3 million.

(3) GOP Blocks Paycheck Fairness Act in Senate

Republican senators have blocked a measure to fight wage discrimination against female workers. The Paycheck Fairness Act would increase enforcement of laws requiring equal pay for men and women. But on Wednesday, all Republican senators voted to prevent the bill from coming to a vote.
[Nebraska Sen. Ben Nelson was the only Democrat who voted with the Republicans.]
(4) FBI Meets with Google, Facebook in Wiretap Push

The Obama administration is intensifying a push to expand government wiretapping of online communications, including emails, Facebook postings and internet phone calls. The administration wants Congress to require immediate compliance with wiretap orders seeking government monitoring of encrypted messages sent over the internet. The New York Times reports FBI Director Robert Mueller met with top executives at several major Silicon Valley firms, including Google and Facebook, earlier this week. The White House proposals include a requirement that any services based overseas be routed communications through a U.S. server where they could be wiretapped.

Did someone say something about democracy?

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

FDR to A. Philip Randolph: "Make me"

I know we all want Obama to stand up against the onslaught of Republican Tea Party madness. It's clear from this afternoon's press conference that this isn't going to easily happen. He seems to be repeating the same mistakes he made at the beginning of his administration. No matter how obviously obstructionist they are, he is going to talk about compromise and agreement. That's what he did two years ago. Remember what they say about someone who keeps doing the same thing and expects different results.

But there is another side to this story: presidents (and other politicians) don't act in the interests of the people without enormous pressure from outside. The probably apocryphal story that FDR's response when Sleeping Car-porters union organizer A. Philip Randolph came to him to ask him to integrate the war industries: "make me" led to the first March on Washington.

In other words what happens the next two years depends on us, not Obama.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Watch the election results tonight (8PM) on MNN1 or FStv

Tuesday, November 2, on MNN1 starting at 8PM Manhattan Neighborhood Network will join Free Speech TV to cover the mid-term elections the only way MNN knows how to do it... ALTERNATIVE NEWS STYLE!

The coverage will be hosted progressive media veterans, including Amy Goodman, Juan Gonzalez, Laura Flanders, Thom Hartmann, Gloria Neal and Marc Steiner. It will feature analysis and commentary from social activists, community organizers and political analysts, including David Sirota, Herb Boyd, Rosa Clemente, Jim Hightower and John Nichols.

There will also be correspondents' reports from The Nation, Mother Jones and Yes Magazine and special guest appearances by NAACP’s Ben Jealous, AFL-CIO’s Richard Trumka, former Denver mayor Wellington Webb and many more.

Faithful to their mission of providing fearless, innovative and fully-independent programming, Free Speech TV (FSTV) will offer this special elections coverage, entirely commercial-free and void of the mainstream media corporate spin.

"We at FSTV are delighted to be partnering with several other independent media entities and personalities to bring this unique election night broadcast to millions of homes around the country," said Don Rojas, Executive Director of Free Speech TV.

"This unprecedented media collaboration will make it possible for the nation to view a diverse collection of hosts and guests reporting and analyzing the results and the political implications of this crucial mid-term election through a progressive lens."

Monday, November 01, 2010

Some Thoughts on Tomorrow's Election

First of all, I'm voting a straight Working Family's Party line except for Governor I'm voting for Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins (because I won't vote for union-buster Andrew Cuomo) and for Senator Colia Clark also a Green candidate (because I swore I would never again vote for Charles Schumer when he supported the nomination of Bush's 3rd Attorney General Michael Mukasey).

I know that no one I vote for tomorrow is going to change anything, but I think fighting the right is an important thing to do. I also know that whatever disaster the Democrats experience tomorrow is to a large extent of their own making. But it is, if it's not already too late, the first pitch of the 2012 presidential election. Having ceded the narrative of this election to the Republican Tea Party the question is can they reclaim it for 2012. Although the media - not surprisingly - has fallen hook-line-&-sinker for the line that this election is a referendum on the Obama presidency, that could hardly be the case. It's not entirely clear when the Tea Party was born but it was some time between February 27 and April 15, 2009. If you remember it was only January 20, 2009 when Obama was inaugurated. So it would have been very difficult for him to have done enough to lead to the creation of a genuine grass-roots opposition. Here's a little of the early history of the Tea Party by Judson Berger on April 6, 2009 from Fox News online.
The Sons of Liberty of today is led by people like Rick Santelli, the CNBC reporter widely credited with helping spark the tea-party fever nationwide (though tea parties were being held before Santelli plugged them).

During an infamous on-air rant on the floor of the Chicago Mercantile Exchange in February, Santelli called for modern-day tea parties to protest the economic trends in government.

He stirred up traders by shouting that the government was promoting "bad behavior" with its mortgage rescue plan. "This is America," he said. "How many of you people want to pay for your neighbor's mortgage that has an extra bathroom and can't pay their bills?"

Though he was mocked by the White House, Santelli might as well have yelled, "Give me liberty or give me death!"

Jenny Beth Martin, a Republican activist who's helping organize one of the higher-profile tea parties in Atlanta, said Santelli's rant led shortly afterward to a conference call of 22 activists, including herself.

From there, she said, organizers put together 48 tea parties -- from St. Louis to San Antonio to Chicago -- on Feb. 27.
The conception of the Tea Party "movement" long preceded its birth. But it also clearly long preceded the Obama presidency. It clearly takes more than a month to create a real movement. But puppeteers like long-time Republican operative Dick Armey were able to snow the media into believing the Tea Party phenomenon was spontaneous. And, suddenly, the Democrats were fighting back from behind from the first inning. It will be interesting to see if the Democrats can set the narrative for 2012. People like Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky have given them lots of ammunition:
The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president
There are Americans (and Iraqis and Afghanis) with their lives on the line but for the Republicans "the single most important thing we want to achieve is for Obama to be a one-term president;" we are in the middle of the greatest capitalist crisis sin ce the Great Depression, but for the Republicans "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president." If the Democrats can't make something out of that they need to hang up their spikes.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Jane Mayer on The Koch brothers (in The New Yorker)

You've surly heard about it, but possibly haven't read it. Jane Mayer's New Yorker article: Covert Operation: The Billionaire [Koch] Brothers who are Waging a War Against Obama." Here it is. It's well worth reading. Let me know what you think.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Substitute your "favorite" Republican face for Nixon's in this cartoon

Once upon a time Herblock, the great cartoonist, drew this picture of Nixon crawling out of a sewer. It seems to me it would be a perfect image for Newt Gingrich or for that matter any Tea Party or Republican spokesperson. Just substitute your "favorite" Republican face for NIxon.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Sept.23: El Grito De Lares! Rally and march


El Grito De Lares!

Rally and march

Gather on

Thursday, September 23, 4:00 PM

Assemble at Marcus Garvey Park
(124th Street and Madison Avenue)

El Grito de Lares is today the most celebrated and respected holiday in Puerto Rico. It was an event that affirmed the existence of the Puerto Rican people as a nation and defined its historical quest for liberation from foreign tyranny. This rebellion demanded the independence of Puerto Rico from Spanish colonialism and the abolition of African chattel slavery.
Since September 23, 2005, the anniversary of El Grito De Lares has added meaning. An F.B.I. assault team launched a vicious attack on the home of Machetero leader Filiberto Ojeda Rios. The revered leader of the struggle for Puerto Rico’s independence was assassinated by the agents of colonialism.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Sunday 9/12 events

Noon and 5pm • Free
Listen to Amy Goodman speak at the Brooklyn Book Festival this Sunday. At noon she will discuss the intellectual and popular influence of Howard Zinn. At 5pm she will be speaking about the depiction of conflict in both fiction and non-fiction, and the way these events can shape both our identity and engagement with our everyday lives.
Francis College McArdle Hall, 180 Remsen Street in Brooklyn
718-802-3852 •

7pm • Sliding scale: $6/$10/$15
In his latest book, God and His Demons, Michael Parenti brings his critical acumen and gifted writing skills to bear on the many evils committed in the name of godly virtue throughout history. Not a blanket condemnation of believers, the focus is on the threat posed by fundamentalists and theocratic reactionaries.
Brecht Forum, 451 West St
212-242-4201 •

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Irwin Silber, October 17, 1925 - September 8, 2010

Although I came to the Guardian Newsweekly after Irwin Silber left, having worked at the paper for a number of years I mourn his passing. He was its executive editor from 1972-1979.

He was also one of the founders and long-time editor of Sing Out! Magazine. After his tenure at the Guardian he and his long-time companion Barbara Dane founded Paredon Records whose mission was to use music as a tool to promote social and political change.

Although I'm sure Irwin and I would not have agreed very much abut the politics of The Guardian (when he was its editor I was working with The Mass Party organizing Committee), his contribution to our movement must be recognized. We are losing too many comrades, yesterday Lou Walker, today Irwin Silber.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Rev. Lucius Walker, Jr. 3 August 1930 - 7 September 2010

Rev. Lucius Walker, Jr. was a founder and the executive director of the Interreligious Foundation for Community Organization (IFCO) since 1979. From 1973-1978 he was Associate General Secretary of the National Council of Churches. Through IFCO he helped to initiate the National Anti-Klan Network, now known as the Center for Democratic Renewal. He was pastor of the Salvation Baptist Church in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, N.Y. The Rev. Walker died yesterday of a massive heart attack.

Over the years I ran into Rev. Lou Walker in many political venues. Most recently I met with him and other Beacon HS parents in 1999, when he was organizing a Beacon trip to Cuba with Andrew's Spanish class. The N.Y. Post later put the Beacon trips to Cuba on its front page ("The Red High School"). Being attacked by the Post is an honor somewhat akin to having been on Nixon's enemies list.

In response to being wounded in a Nicaraguan "contra" terrorist attack in 1988, he conceived and helped to organize Pastors for Peace Material Aid Caravans to Nicaragua, El Salvador, Guatemala, Cuba and Chiapas, Mexico. The Cuba caravans, or Friendshipments, have served as a challenge to the insanity, immorality and illegality of the U.S. government's blockade of Cuba. In 1996 he and four others engaged in a 94-day "Fast for Life" which successfully forced the U.S. government to release computers they had seized that were destined for hospitals in Cuba.

But these are merely some of the things that he did. As with Dennis Brutus and Marilyn Clement what they did only scratches the surface of the loss their deaths mean to our movement.

Lou Walker, Presente!
and Rest in Peace

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Today's Jeopardy question

Yesterday's Answer: Hershey, PA

Here's today's:
Official State Songs: In 1953 it became the only state whose official song was written for a Broadway musical
(from the New York Times)

Monday, September 06, 2010

Jeopardy question for today

We are in the true sense of the term "fans" (= "fanatics") about Jeopardy. I have recently discovered that many people don't know that every weekday a Jeopardy question appears in the New York Times (Arts section). So I thought I would post it here to see how much you know. I will tell you if we knew the answer or had to look it up. Here's an easy one to start with:
U.S.A.: Chocolate Avenue & Cocoa Avenue are 2 of the main thoroughfares in this town that was established in 1903.
Answer tomorrow. Have a great Labor Day.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Tonight: "The United States and Yemen: Destroying Lives in the Name of National Security," a public discussion

"The United States and Yemen: Destroying Lives in the Name of National Security,"

Sept. 2, 2010, 7:30 pm,

the Brecht Forum
451 West St bt Bank and Bethune Sts.

a public discussion featuring renowned Yemeni activists and a CCR human rights attorney addressing state violence, targeted killings, and human rights abuses enabled by the so-called "War on Terror."
(The Brecht Forum

PLEASE NOTE the TIME CHANGE from 7pm to 7:30pm. (A prayer room and appetizers will be available as it is Ramadan.)

The U.S. government describes Yemen as 'an important partner in the global war on terrorism' while at the same time characterizing it as an Al-Qaida stronghold. The Yemeni government has taken advantage of the U.S. partnership and increasing military aid to justify its domestic "anti-terror campaigns" which have resulted in egregious human rights violations, including mass arrests, illegal abductions, enforced disappearances, torture, and killings. The victims of this violence are not only alleged militants and their families, but Yemeni dissidents and journalists critical of their government. The "war on terror" has served as a cover for the Yemeni state to increase repression and militarization in response to its own internal political crises -- all with the tacit approval of the international community.

Don't miss out on this exceptional opportunity to hear visiting Yemeni human rights activists at the forefront of human rights struggles in their country discuss what they are doing to resist this mounting repression and to create a meaningfully democratic and peaceful future. Learn about the political climate in Yemen, and together think through what ethical solidarity with Yemeni people might look like. Also hear from a CCR lawyer who is trying to stop a "targeted killing" by the United States in Yemen and who represents men detained at Guantánamo -- where Yemeni men constitute the largest group of remaining prisoners, all declared by the Obama administration to be indefinitely detainable without charge based solely on their nationality.

Developing an understanding of this political reality is crucial to ending the U.S. government's complicity in more human rights abuses, and to stopping the creation of a war without boundaries or end that threatens our collective safety.

Annette Warren Dickerson
Director of the Education and Outreach Department


Tawakkol Karman, chairwoman of the Yemeni non-government organization Women Journalists Without Chains, which campaigns for freedom of the press in Yemen and against human rights violations.

Ezz-Adeen Saeed Ahmed Al-Asbahi, the president of Human Rights Information & Training Center (HRITC), a non-governmental organization which seeks to enhance human rights in Yemen and the Arab World, focusing on the Gulf States in particular.

Pardiss Kebriaei is a staff attorney at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York City.

Leili Kashani (moderator and discussant): is the Education and Outreach Associate for the Guantánamo Global Justice Initiative at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR). i

*This event is co-sponsored by the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and the Brecht Forum.

Baseball's 25 Greatest Players

Former NBC sports reporter Len Berman has a book coming out this Fall, Baseball's 25 Greatest Players. The book is meant to teach baseball history to kids, but it provoked me to create my own list. Tell me wat you think. Here's my list:

Henry Aaron, OF
Roberto Clemente, OF
Ty Cobb, OF
Joe DiMaggio, OF
Bob Feller, P
Lou Gehrig, 1B
Bob Gibson, P
Josh Gibson, C
Ricky Henderson, OF
Rogers Hornsby, 2B
Walter Johnson, P
Mickey Mantle, OF
Christy Matthewson, P
Willie Mays, OF
Stan Musial, OF
Mariano Rivera, P
Jackie Robinson, 2B
Pete Rose, 3B
Babe Ruth, OF
Nolan Ryan, P
Tom Seaver, P
Warren Spahn, P
Honus Wagner, SS
Ted Williams, OF
Cy Young, P

Len Berman and I differ on six players. He includes Johnny Bench, Jimmie Foxx, Frank Robinson, Alex Rodriguez and Mike Schmidt instead of Rivera, Henderson, Clemente, Seaver and Ryan. I should say that Berman relied on a panel of "experts" to make up his list: Ralph Branca, Bernie Williams, Frank Deford, Chris Russo, Jeffrey Lyons (?), Steve Fortunato & Roland Hemond.

Other people commenting on this have mentioned several other players who should make the list: Satchel Paige, Tris Speaker, Eddie Collins, Sandy Koufax, Joe Jackson & Greg Maddox.

There are a number of people on both lists I would like to include, but 25 is 25. What do you think?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Aug. 22: Don't let the terrorists win, fight Islamophobia

New Yorkers to Say “Welcome Cordoba House” at Sunday Gathering to Stop Islamophobia

Rally in support of Cordoba House

this Sunday, August 22, 10:00 am

Church & Warren Streets, Manhattan

As a national controversy is growing over the building of the proposed Cordoba House, New Yorkers will welcome Muslims to downtown Manhattan on Sunday August 22

The new NYC Coalition to Stop Islamophobia announced today that it will gather near the proposed site at the former Burlington Coat Factory location on Park Place Sunday to “counter racist messages and attacks against Muslims and Islam,” and to “welcome
Cordoba House.”

Opponents of Cordoba House say they will come to New York Sunday “to push back against those attempting to impose harsh Shariah Islam, stealth jihad or terror on our nation.”

“We want the world to know that most New Yorkers, including people who live near Ground Zero and suffered during the attack on the World Trade Center, reject the lies being spread about Cordoba House,” said Elaine Brower of the Coalition. ”We oppose attacks now, and in the future, on Muslims and mosques. We support religious freedom.”

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

"The Home Run heard round the world" is silenced

One of the heroes of my youth died Monday (8/16) - Bobby Thomson, whose home run in 1951 was "heard around the world." I won't say how old I was, but I was in high school and listening to the game in the courtyard behind the school. I think we'll all remember the since famous words:
The Giants Win the Pennant, the Giants win he pennant, the Giants win the pennant, the Giants win the pennant.
And they were said on the radio, not TV, by Giant broadcaster Russ Hodges. If there has ever been a pennant race that was determined by the gods of baseball, it was in 1951. In mid-August the Dodgers had a 13 1/2 game lead. And the Giants were declared "dead" by Dodger manager Charlie Dressen. But slowly but surely the Giants crept up until on that fateful 3rd day in October they were tied with the Brooklyn Bums. But that wasn't the end of the "Miracle at Coogan's Bluff." In the 9th inning of the 3rd and last game of the playoff series the Dodgers were ahead 4-2. And then Thomson came up with two runners on base, and you know the rest. Oh, by the way, my friend Steve at Whole Foods reminded me that in his rookie season with the Giants, Willie Mays was on deck.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Rooney Mara is Lisbeth Salander

Everybody who has read The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo or the other books or seen the first two films is waiting to know who is cast as Lisbeth Salander ("The Girl"). Well the secret is out: it's Rooney Mara. I know that her name will not resonate with film goers, but it certainly will with football fans. Her pedigree is amazing. One of her great grand fathers was Tim Mara, the founder of the New York football Giants, and her other GGF was Art Rooney, founder of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

She looks the part, I just hope she can hold her own with Daniel Craig, who plays journalist Mikael Blomquist and Robin Wright, Blomquist's editor and occasional lover. Should be fun.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Winter's Bone: A review

Last Saturday ( 8/14), due to Ann's persistence, we saw the absolutely wonderful Winter's Bone. If you haven't seen it (in Manhattan at the moment it's only @ The Angelika Film Center) go, it's truly amazing. For a while it seems unwaveringly depressing, but that's not where it ends up.

Winter's Bone is about an extended family in the Ozarks of Southwestern Missouri. In particular it focuses on Ree Dolly, a 17-year-old girl, whose father has been in prison and since his release has gone missing. That's important because he has put up the family house as collateral for his bond, so it will be confiscated if he doesn't show up for his upcoming court date. Ree is unwaveringly resolute in her pursuit of her father to get him to court to save their homestead. The rest of the Dolly clan is equally determined to prevent her from finding out what happened to her dad and cover up their criminal activities ( I guess cooking crystal meth has replaced moonshining in the Ozarks). Until the Dolly women join together to resolve the situation. Ree's mother is ill and completely dysfunctional and she has two younger- under 10 - siblings a brother and sister to care for. Ree is the absolute centerpiece of the film; everything functions around her. She is played by Jennifer Lawrence, who should be nominated for an Oscar, or all those people have their heads up their asses.

To give you an idea how special her performance is, here are two pictures of her: one from Winter's Bone:

and one of her in a recent Esquire Magazine:

She plays a similarly dressed down role in the new Jody Foster film in which she unfortunately co-stars with Mel Gibson, so it may never be released. After that she will be the new naked blue Mystique in the completely recast X-Men prequel (remember Rebecca Romijn).

The entire cast of Winter's Bone (most of whom I have never seen before) is wonderful. We believed everyone was who they said they were and not actors. This is, I think, so far the best film we've seen this year and that's saying a lot when last week we saw Inception and the week before The Girl who Played with Fire both of which are also very special films.

The simple story is go see Winter's Bone you won't regret it.

Sunday, August 08, 2010

Aug. 10: Action - Fight Washington Corruption

Tuesday, August 10th, 12:00 PM

Fight Washington Corruption Action

Senator Schumer's office,
757 Third Avenue

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Is internet democracy about to be lost? What is the future of "Net Neutrality"?

From its inception the internet has been the most democratic form of communication in this society. That is about to change. Until now everyone has had the same access to the internet and messages have travelled at the same speed, no matter who sent them: whether it is my blog or ABC-TV we are equal in terms of the speed in which communication is sent on the internet. That is about to change. It's rumored that on Monday Google and Verizon are going to announce that what is called "Net Neutrality" will no longer be the case. The video of Sen. Al Franken (below) and the article by Josh Silver, president of Free Press, on the Huffington Post (also reproduced below) will tell you what we need to know about the threat to Net Neutrality and what we can do about it. The urgency of the defense of Net Neutrality came home to me when I listened to Josh Silver on Democracy Now on WBAI yesterday morning.

Josh Silver, Google-Verizon Deal: The End of the Internet as we Know it Huffington Post

Hiroshima/Nagasaki events this weekend

Saturday, August 7, 2010, 8:00 PM

NY Buddhist Church
331 Riverside Dr @ 105 St

I Have Been to Hiroshima Mon Amour
written by Chiori Miyagawa
directed by Jean Wagner

followed by
a discussion panel with
Hiroshima survivor, Koji Kobayashi

Sunday, August 8, 8:00 PM


The Church of St. Paul & St. Andrew
W 86 St @ West End Ave..

Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul & Mary
The Peaceniks with Barry Gruber & Moogy Klingman
Shinji Harada

10:02 PM
Bell Ringing Ceremony.
at the exact moment of Nagasaki bombing

Friday, August 06, 2010

Gay marriage on a roll: first California, now Mexico City

Hard on the heels of Federal Judge Vaughn Walker decision that California's homophobic anti-gay marriage Prop 8 is uncon- stitutional, Mexico's Supreme Court has upheld Mexico City's allowance of gay and lesbian marriage:
(Reuters) -Mexico's supreme court on Thursday upheld a landmark law that allows gay marriage in the capital city, bucking a challenge raised by the conservative government of President Felipe Calderon.
(for complete Reuters article)

People who are upset by these decisions to recognize the civil rights of lesbians and gay men tend to talk about disrespect "for people's moral sensibilities." As does The National Review's Rich Lowry in today's (Fri) New York Post. Much the same arguments were, of course, used in the 20th century in defense of "white racial sensibilities."

I have tried to make sense of the claim that the marriage of lesbians and gay men will somehow "hurt the institution of marriage." Not only does this argument seem to make no sense in its own right, but from all available evidence heterosexuals seem to be undermining marriage quite well without any help from lesbians and gay men. The statistics with regard to divorce and infidelity among heterosexuals indicates that marriage - which was once a sacred contract between two people - is now much more something to be tossed away at their convenience.

Which brings me to one last thought: Newt Gingrich. The former House Speaker seems to be the go-to-guy for the opposition to gay and lesbian marriage. Wednesday evening he released the following statement on his web site:
Judge Walker's ruling overturning Prop 8 is an outrageous disrespect for our Constitution and for the majority of people of the United States who believe marriage is the union of husband and wife. In every state of the union from California to Maine to Georgia, where the people have had a chance to vote they've affirmed that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Congress now has the responsibility to act immediately to reaffirm marriage as a union of one man and one woman as our national policy.

Today’s notorious decision also underscores the importance of the Senate vote tomorrow on the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court because judges who oppose the American people are a growing threat to our society.
In addition to the fact that the Senate voted yesterday (Thursday) to confirm this "UnAmerican threat to our society" to the Supreme Court, it might be worth remembering why Gingrich is the former Speaker of the House.

This defender of "traditional " marriage mores, according to ABC News in 2007:
Setting the stage for his entry into the presidential race, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, R-Ga., gave a radio interview to be broadcast today with Focus on the Family's James Dobson, in which Gingrich for the first time publicly acknowledged cheating on his first and second wives.
All I can say to the defenders of exclusively heterosexual marriage, "with friends like Gingrich you really don't need any enemies."

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Prop 8 declared unconstitutional (video)

Today Federal Judge Vaughn Walker (a Bush daddy appointee) declared the California ban on gay marriage to be uncon- stitutional and a violation of gay and lesbian civil rights. Basically he said civil rights are not something we can vote on they are imbedded in the Constitution. Here's Judge walker's conclusion,
Proposition 8 fails to advance any rational basis in singling out gay men and lesbians for denial of a marriage license. Indeed, the evidence shows Proposition 8 does nothing more than enshrine in the California Constitution the notion that opposite sex couples are superior to same-sex couples. Because California has no interest in discriminating against gay men and lesbians, and because Proposition 8 prevents California from fulfilling its constitutional obligation to provide marriages on an equal basis, the court concludes that Proposition 8 is unconstitutional.
Finally a modicum of sanity on gay marriage. It's very simple. In this society any fool can believe anything he or she wants to believe, but you can't enshrine your beliefs in law. That's unconstitutional. This is truly a major victory for civil rights and gay and lesbian rights.

Prop 8 declared unconstitutional (video)

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

U.S. sends delegate to Hiroshima observance after only 65 years.

Sixty-five years after a mushroom cloud rose over Hiroshima [and murdered 140,000 Japanese], the US will for the first time send an envoy this Friday to commemorate the bombing that rang in the nuclear age. (
France and England will also send delegates for the first time. Ban Ke-Moon will be the first UN Secretary-General to attend the ceremony. It's only taken 65 ears.

Republicans run against their earlier incarnations

The Republicans have developed a simple strategy for beating the Democrats: No matter how strongly you supported a position last year (or even for many years), if Obama and the Democrats are for it, you are against it. It's an absolutely fascinating political strategy to watch in action. The real question is, will there be a political sucker born every minute who will buy this political hypocrisy (pace P.T. Barnum)? Here's the wonderful Rachel Maddow's take on this latest Republican "strategy."

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Monday, August 02, 2010

65th Anniversary of Hiroshima/Nagasaki Bombings Commemoration

This week August 6 & 9 is the 65th anniversary of the worst terrorist acts in history - The Atomic Bombings of Hiroshima (8/6) and Nagasaki (8/9) - The world must never forget. I think that we have a special responsibility for those actions and we must both both commemorate what happened 65 years ago and, perhaps even more importantly, pledge ourselves to never allow anything like it to happen again. Here are some commemorative actions:

1) August 7, 2010, 1-6 pm

Hiroshima/Nagasaki Day Exhibit

Tompkins Square Park

For more information, please email WRL-NYC at or
call 718-768-7306.

2)Sunday, August 8, 2010, 11:00 am

The Social Justice Committee of the Unitarian Church of Staten Island and Peace Action of Staten Island will co-sponsor
a commemoration of the bombings
as part of the annual Arthur Foise Summer Forum.

Unitarian Church of Staten Island
312 Fillmore Street
Staten Island

The event will feature readings and poetry as well as music by Staten Island pianist David Jones and members of the musical ensemble WaFoo, which blends the traditions of Japanese music with American jazz.

In addition, PASI's American Conscience Theater will present a short theatrical piece by Georgina Ohene commemorating the Hiroshima & Nagasaki bombings. The 25 minute presentation is a semi-dramatic combination of live music by Robert Ross; dance, readings and interactive re-enactments based upon John Hersey's book, HIROSHIMA.

The commemoration will conclude with a peace procession with banners and the lighting of lanterns.

3)Sunday, August 8, 2010, 2:30-4:45pm

Casserly Hall below St. Joseph’s Greenwich Village Church,
Washington Place and Sixth Avenue, one block north of West 4th St.

Pax Christi Metro New York invites you to Remember Hiroshima and Nagasaki and Oppose Nuclear Proliferation Today

~ View an exhibit of photos from Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
~ Pray.
~ Participate in a discussion facilitated by Sr. Jean Fallon, MM. Sr. Jean served in parish ministry in the Kyoto Diocese for 23 years and later worked in Tokyo with the Japan National Catholic Council for Justice and Peace. She led many people on experiential visits to Hiroshima and Nagasaki which inspired her to become a “pilgrim for peace.”
~ Join in a solemn procession.

August 8th, 2010
Doors open at 2:30 PM
Light refreshments served
Opening Prayer, Speaker, and Discussion start at 2:45 PM:

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

"All governments lie"

I.F. Stone, one of the greatest journalists this country ever produced, once said:
All governments lie, disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.
What governments lie about most are wars: why they are starting them, how they are going and when and how they will be victorious. The founders of this country gave the exclusive responsibility of declaring war to Congress, therefore Presidents who want to start and/or escalate wars have to lie in order to convince Congress to let them. That's why governments hate people who tell the truth. Nothing interferes more with the smooth workings of U. S. administrations than the truth. Granted the "Afghan Papers" don't compare with the "Pentagon Papers" in terms of what they reveal, but what they are doing is provoking a new conversation about Afghanistan, that may be reward enough. We need to thank those who tell the truth, not harass them.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The Kids are All Right

We saw The Kids Are All Right last weekend. The most important thing about The Kids is, as the title tells you, the kids are all right. In fact, I think, they're better than all right. That's important to counteract all the homophobic nonsense about gay men and lesbians parenting children. And I would add that it conforms to every gay and lesbian household I personally know. The same, however, is not true of the moms. Nic (Annette Bening) is a doctor and has a full professional life. Jules (Julianne Moore), on the other hand, has done the bulk of the parental chores. Now that the kids are leaving or on the verge of leaving the nest, she is trying to build a work life for herself and getting very little support from Nic, in fact, Nic can be quite derisive, even in front of the kids. I think the reason Nic witholds support is because she is a bit of a control freak and sees Jules building her own work life as a threat, but it's at the core of their problems.

The second most interesting thing about The Kids is that it's a very traditional film. The only contemporary aspect of the film is the lesbian-headed family; otherwise it's a very conventional story that could have been made 20, 40 or even 60 years ago with a man and a woman in the leads. It's essentially about how an existing unit (Nic, Jules, Joni and Laser) are affected when a new force enters the picture. Especially when there is a chink in the original unit (Nic's lack of support for Jules' ambitions).

The new element enters the picture when the kids, particularly Laser, seek out the sperm donor "father" (the same one for both kids) who turns out to be Paul (Mark Ruffalo) a thorougoing womanizer who owns a restaurant. It's his garden that sets the stage for film's real drama. Unlike the unsupportive Nic, Paul can offer Jules her first landscaping job in the garden and is very supportive as she proceeds. She is very grateful and falls into bed with him. As far as I can tell neither of them intended it to happen but not surprisingly it does. One other thing that's important to emphasize is that I don't think Jules ever questions her sexuality - she identifies as a lesbian and continues to be a lesbian. She falls into bed with Paul because she's greatful for his support and unhappy at home - hardly an unusual scenario. It is important to note that after a good deal more drama in the end Jules and Nic remain together.

The moral of this story is that whatever our sexuality, we don't always make the smartest choices, but movies would be unbearably boring if we did. From Jerry Springer to Shakespeare, after all, drama is the product of our human frailties and stupidities. But don't forget the kids are alright. Go see it. It's a very good movie.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Tuli Kupferberg - Poet, musician and all-around political provocateur - dies at 86.

Tuli Kupferberg, one of the founders of the 1960's anti-war band the Fugs, who LA Times music critic Randy Lewis calls "A songwriter, poet, author, cartoonist and all-around sociopolitical provocateur" died yesterday (Monday). Village Voice music critic Robert Cristagau dubbed the Fugs: "the Lower East Side's first true underground band." His Beat comrade Alan Ginsburg had already immortalized Kupferberg in Howl as "the one who “jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge this actually happened and walked away unknown and forgotten into the ghostly daze of Chinatown." Just for the record it was actually the Manhattan Bridge, but Ginsburg's entitled to some poetic license. Kupferberg was also also mentioned in the prose poem "Memorial Day 1971" by Ted Berrigan and Anne Waldman. Tuli was born Naftali.

Rarely do we lose two such significant counter-culture icons in one week as Harvey Peckar and Tuli Kupferberg. We are poorer for their passing.

Harvey Pekar, comic book icon, dead at 70

Harvey Pekar was born in Cleveland (1939) and died in Cleveland (yesterday-Monday) and he became a comic book icon by turning his life experience - as a music critic and 40 years as a file clerk in a Veterans Administration hospital into a graphic series he called American Splendor. If you never read any of his work, you may have seen the movie version of his story - American Splendor - with Paul Giamatti playing him. Pekar was not an artist so his friend and also comic book great R. Crumb did the illustrations for the early issues of American Splendor. Other artists took over later.

In the 1980s there were a number of theatrical versions of American Splendor, one starring Dan Castellaneta (the voice of "Homer"). For Harvey Pekar everyday life in America was the meat of his art. In addition to American Splendor he also created Students for a Democratic Society: A Graphic History (2008), The Beats (2009) and with his wife, Joyce Brabner, Our Cancer Year (1994) about his struggle with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.He also had an on again off again relationship with David Letterman (on NBC) when he heavily criticized NBC-owner General Electric.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Federal Judge Rules Ban on Gay Marriage Is Unconstitutional

U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro took a stand in favor of equal rights for gay man and lesbians by ruling in Boston Thursday that the federal law banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional because it interferes with the right of a state to define the institution and therefore denies married gay couples some federal benefits.

He ruled in favor of gay couples' rights in two separate challenges to the so-called Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), a 1996 law, the repeal of which the Obama administration has supported. The rulings apply only to Massachusetts but could have broader implications if they're upheld on appeal. These rulings still leave states free to discriminate against gay men and lesbians.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

July 8: Move the 2011 All-Star Game Out of Arizona

JULY 8, 12 noon

NYC Rally at Major League Baseball headquarters

MLB Headquarters – 245 Park Ave (46St & Park Ave)

Move the 2011 All-Star Game Out of Arizona
Protest Arizona Anti-Immigrant Laws!
Support Immigration Reform not Racial Profiling!

Let’s send a message to Arizona: we oppose the un-American law (SB1070) that threatens civil rights and undermines basic notions of fairness. We call on MLB to do the same.

This rally is co-sponsored by (list in formation):
New York Immigration Coalition,
American Immigration Lawyers Association New York Chapter,
African Services Committee,
Boycott Arizona NYC,
Cabrini Immigrant Services,
Democracy for New York City,
Greater New York City for Change,
Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition,
La Union de La Comunidad Latina,
Long Island Immigrant Alliance,
Minkwon Center for Community Action,
NAACP New York State Conference,
New York Civic Participation Project,
New York Civil Liberties Union,
Northern Manhattan Coalition for Immigrants Rights,
Queens Community House, Sikh Coalition.

For more details/to co-sponsor the rally, contact or
212-627-2227 X246 at The New York Immigration Coalition.

July 8: Protest Netanyahu in New York City

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is coming to New York to justify continued colonization and slaughter.

The media will be there to relay his “facts” to the world.

Let’s make sure they hear the real story.

Thursday, July 8, 12-2 pm

Council on Foreign Relations

58 East 68th St, near Park Ave

Monday, June 28, 2010

If you are against the wars & live in or near Chelsea pay attention

Chelsea Anti-War Vigil

Tuesday, June 29, 6:00-7:00pm

(northwest corner of 8th Ave and 24th St)

Tuesday, May 18, 2010 marked five years plus two weeks that Chelsea Stands Up Against The War has been taking place each and every Tuesday from 6 until 7 pm at the northwest corner of 8th Avenue and 24th Street

While the news media, the dawn of the 2010 election cycle, the elevation of the Tea Party, pressing issues like finance reform, charter schools, health care, and the criminal oil spill in the Gulf have pushed war from center stage, the importance of resistance to permanent war (the Bush-Obama years) has never been more urgent.

Billions more to be spent, more lives to be lost, families decimated as "progressives" do back-flips trying to justify the escalation under Obama, means that protesting war is needed now more than ever.

Please consider joining us on any Tuesday that you can. We are getting into the summer months where some of our regulars are looking to take some vacation. We need you to help out. Even if you an come by once for just 15 minutes or so it will be a meaningful assist.

You weren't wrong. Going to war in Iraq and Afghanistan made no sense It is a waste of lives and resources. It is no more justifiable with Barack Obama as president then it was when George W. Bush was president. Stop the funding, stop the wars.

People say, "Where is the anti-war movement?" Well part of it is on the northwest corner of 8th Avenue and 24th Street in NYC every Tuesday from 6 until 7 pm.

Join us. You might feel better, I know for sure that we will.


Chuck for
Chelsea Neighbors United to End the War

Chelsea Neighbors United To End The War
P.O. Box 821
JAF Station
New York, NY 10116-0821
212-726-1385 [2]

Friday, June 25, 2010

Petitions are public political acts

In the midst of a series of decisions made by the handmaidens of the corporate oligarchy (otherwise known as the U.S. Supreme Court) that gut what little protection the people have in this country, I find myself actually in agreement with one of their decisions. Which scares me. In Doe v. Reed the court said that the first amendment doesn't guarantee secrecy for people who sign petitions to put referendums on state ballots. This seems blatantly obvious to me. Secretly signing a petition seems like a contradiction in terms. Signing a petitions whatever it is for is essentially a public political act. If you don't want to be associated with a cause or a candidate don't sign the petition. The decision was 9-1 (Clarence Thomas the only dissenter). Several of the homophobes on the court had a difficult time agreeing with the majority. According to the NYT, "Scalito" (Samuel Alito)
whose distaste for disclosure of the particular names at issue in the case was evident at the argument of the case in April, ... argu[ed] that a narrower challenge should succeed.
The reason for his distaste in this case was that it was brought by people who signed the petition that intended to deny gay men and lesbians equal rights by opposing a state domestic partnership law.