Saturday, July 10, 2004

Congrats to all the newly legal partners

Just back from Memorial Park in Maplewood. A nice scene - beautiful weather, lots of families, lots of happy people.

In honor of the new Domestic Partnership law we're celebrating today, I'm including paragraph 1 of the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution - you know, the amendment subtitled "Citizenship Rights." However much a breakthrough "Domestic Partnership" is, until they can marry, the law is still denying our gay/lesbian friends and neighbors their full rights as citizens.
1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.
We've still got a good long way to go for that one.

Friday, July 09, 2004

What a disheartening milestone

Today the allied death-toll in Iraq hit the 1000 mark. Sigh...
880 Americans
60 Brits
19 Italians
11 Spaniards
7 Ukrainians
6 Poles
6 Bulgarians
3 Slovakians
2 Thai
1 Dane
1 Estonian
1 Salvadoran
1 Dutch
1 Latvian
1 Hungarian

Even The Donald knows

The Daily Dish via guest blogger Holden at Eschaton:
President Bush, you should be fired.

The Donald has turned thumbs down on the President's war in Iraq, calling it a "mess."

"What was the purpose of the whole thing?" Donald Trump asks in an Esquire interview. "Hundreds of young people killed. And what about the people coming back with no arms and no legs?"

"The Apprentice" star said it's folly to think Iraq can be turned into a "wonderful democracy."

The real estate baron said if he were President, Al Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden "would have been caught long ago."

"Tell me, how is it possible that we can't find a guy who's 6-foot-6 and supposedly needs a dialysis machine?" Trump said. "Can you explain that one to me? We have all our energies focused on one place - where they shouldn't be focused."

I'm shocked, SHOCKED...
General Turnipseed's imaginary 6 foot rabbit must have eaten the Resident's military records.
HOUSTON, July 8 - Military records that could help establish President Bush's whereabouts during his disputed service in the Texas Air National Guard more than 30 years ago have been inadvertently destroyed, according to the Pentagon.

He's Baaaack...

Not one to wait for any grass to grow on Gov. McGreevey's Chris Christie problem, and not coincidentally getting a jump on any gubernatorial aspirations Christie himself might harbor, Bret Schundler announces for next year. From PoliticsNJ.com:
Former Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler today announced his candidacy for the 2005 Republican nomination for Governor -- sort of. “I am here to tell you that I am running for governor again next year," Schundler said at a meeting of Americans for Tax Reform in Washington, D.C.

South Orange stealing a march on Maplewood

South Orange plans to open their municipal offices at 12:01 AM on July 10, to be the first in NJ to register a domestic partnership. Good for S.O. - and good for Maplewood for supporting the Rainbow Families celebration in Memorial Park on Saturday.

Thanks to the many who worked so hard for this, and congrats to the many same-sex couples in NJ who now come a little closer to full civil rights.

Thursday, July 08, 2004

Inexperienced? Not an issue
From WaPo:
Here's Tim Russert on the NBC Nightly News filling Brian Williams in on the latest quickie poll.

For one, it shows that the Kerry campaign got a bounce from the Edwards announcement, now leading Bush/Cheney by a 49 to 41 margin.

But the real shocker: When asked who they would prefer, upon the death of the president, if the vice president had to serve as president, Edwards outpolled Cheney 45 percent to 38 percent.

"It really is striking," Russert said. "We had assumed that an incumbent vice president, with the gravitas of Dick Cheney, would do much better than that against the inexperienced John Edwards."

Mark Murray of NBC goes through yet more results and writes: "Moreover, when asked who is more optimistic about the future of the country, 49 percent said Edwards, while just 28 percent chose Cheney."
See Russert at his craven, toadying best - laying the "inexperienced" tag on Edwards while bestowing "gravitas" on Cheney. Oy.

Not that the VP really counts for that much, but those abysmal numbers show why there's a growing movement amongst the R's to dump Cheney, led by former NY Senator Al D'Amato.

The White House: All Springsteen, all the time

As noted by Mark at A Cautious Man, Kerry/Edwards will bring some musical taste to their administration.

An early autumn

Looks like Bush/Cheney want their October surprise to come in July. The Pakistanis are being pushed to produce some captured al Quaeda leaders, preferably on the 26th, 27th, or 28th of July - timed to disrupt media coverage of the Democratic National Convention. In an article - July Surprise? - in The New Republic, John Judis, Spencer Ackerman, and Massoud Ansari document the pressure placed on Pakistan's security people to come up with conveniently timed "High Value" prisoners.

I guess the Publicans learned this technique from their great hero, Ronald Reagan, who made the same sort of deal with Iran in 1980. It worked then. Let's hope they don't get away with such sickening manipulation this time.

Fondly(?), Fahrenheit

I saw "Fahrenheit 9/11" in Millburn last night. I can't say I loved it, or that it changed me in any way. I certainly didn't need any convincing of Moore's fundamental point - that George Bush must go. But it was impressive that, even several weeks into its run, on a Wednesday night, the theater was full.

In the first half of F 9/11, Moore is on familiar ground - mugging and capering in his "look at me, I'm a populist" way. He goes on too long about Saudi influence on the Bush family. This is not unimportant to know, and pretty accurate as far as it goes, but there's just too much of it, in that Michael Moore raised-eyebrow "can you believe this stuff?" way. The most useful/interesting segments were the intercut Iraq videos - mostly because the pictures of the dead and wounded - Iraqis and allied soldiers both - and of the destruction on the ground in Iraq - are precisely those that Big Media ought to have been showing us all along - but haven't.

The film is at its best in its second half, when Moore shuts up for a while and moves into real cinema-verité territory. Moore's camera follows a pair of USMC recruiters around, shows us bright, opportunity-poor potential cannon-fodder in Flint's high schools, and lets us see and hear Lila Lipscomb and her family, and that's when the movie really takes off. He shows, with little or no editorializing, how U.S. economic policies leave poor teenagers with few choices other than the military. We clearly see how disingenuous recruiter promises of education and careers put the lie to the concept of a true "volunteer" army.

At the tail end, Fahrenheit 9/11 lets down again, when Moore moves on to waylaying members of Congress on the street - back to his "Roger and Me" style. It seemed like Moore was trying to get himself back into the story - and it was a distraction.

I think it's a movie worth seeing - Moore has a compelling point of view, an instinct for getting people riled-up, and can very entertaining, but don't expect great cinema, or even great propaganda. But if he gets people curious to know more, to do a bit of reading, and then to tell their friends what they've learned, he will have succeeded better than a thousand lefty blogs like this one.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Kenny-Boy Lay indicted

The indictment is still sealed, so no clue yet what all the charges are.

Story is here.

Dubya continues to demonstrate his irony-challengedness
President Bush criticized Democratic vice presidential candidate John Edwards in his own home state on Wednesday by questioning whether Edwards has sufficient experience to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.
Ah yes ... from a guy who, before he ran for President, had 4 years experience as Governor of Texas - the state whose Governor has the least responsibilities of any state in the Union. Oh yeah, mustn't forget his several stints as an executive of businesses that failed.

The problem with Edwards ...

... is that he looks so young (or so the pundictocracy will claim). Michael Bérubé has the solution - Xotob injections.

In OTHER lawyer news...

You're gonna hear an awful lot in the coming days and weeks about how John Edwards is an evil personal-injury lawyer. Lawyer lawyer lawyer. Evil Evil Evil bloodsucker. Yadda yadda yadda.

The Publicans don't like him because he goes after corporate malfeasance. Yeah - he's a lawyer. Yeah, he's made a LOT of money at it. But much of it was fighting for little guys, against big guys. Hey, somebody ought to, and if that somebody ends up the Vice President of the United States, all the better for us.

Here's the kind of lawyer Edwards is:
The defining case in Edwards' legal career wrapped up that same year. In 1993, a five-year-old girl named Valerie Lakey had been playing in a Wake County, N.C., wading pool when she became caught in an uncovered drain so forcefully that the suction pulled out most of her intestines. She survived but for the rest of her life will need to be hooked up to feeding tubes for 12 hours each night. Edwards filed suit on the Lakeys' behalf against Sta-Rite Industries, the Wisconsin corporation that manufactured the drain. Attorneys describe his handling of the case as a virtuoso example of a trial layer bringing a negligent corporation to heel. Sta-Rite offered the Lakeys $100,000 to settle the case. Edwards passed. Before trial, he discovered that 12 other children had suffered similar injuries from Sta-Rite drains. The company raised its offer to $1.25 million. Two weeks into the trial, they upped the figure to $8.5 million. Edwards declined the offer and asked for their insurance policy limit of $22.5 million. The day before the trial resumed from Christmas break, Sta-Rite countered with $17.5 million. Again, Edwards said no. On January 10, 1997, lawyers from across the state packed the courtroom to hear Edwards' closing argument, "the most impressive legal performance I have ever seen," recalls Dayton. Three days later, the jury found Sta-Rite guilty and liable for $25 million in economic damages (by state law, punitive damages could have tripled that amount). The company immediately settled for $25 million, the largest verdict in state history. For their part, Edwards and Kirby earned the Association of Trial Lawyers of America's national award for public service.
From a 2001 Washington Monthly article, via Fred Clark's Slacktivist blog.

In local news...

I'd never heard of the guy, but this Star-Ledger story is about a Maplewood lawyer gone bad:
Maplewood lawyer Emanuel Needle, who has been practicing in this state for 47 years, was permanently disbarred for putting as much as $935,000 in an out-of-state T.Rowe Price account in Maryland, in violation of the rules of professional conduct that require New Jersey lawyers to keep all clients' funds in an in-state bank.

Despite the disbarment order, Frederick J. Dennehy, the lawyer representing Needle, said the matter is not finally resolved. He filed a motion with the state's high court and obtained a stay of the disbarment order to give him a chance to give the court additional information.

"There was a vast amount of material that was not presented," said Dennehy.

The Disciplinary Review Board, the body that reviews ethics complaints and makes recommendations to the state Supreme Court, said Needle overcharged clients for his work, failed to promptly pay doctors or others owed money in connection with cases and secured loans for clients without telling them he was the lender.

At one point he had settlement funds for 47 clients in an account and took excessive fees in 34 cases, according to the report.

Calling Needle's treatment of his clients "reprehensible," the review board said, "He took advantage of clients by routinely taking excessive fees from them. He also misrepresented to clients that he was assisting them in obtaining loans from a third party, when, in fact, he was the lender. He charged one client 18 percent interest and another 12 percent."

Tuesday, July 06, 2004

Well Duh

Like those of us who read didn't know this already
Cheney Had No New Data on Saddam, Al Qaeda-Panel

Dubya's Boom Blip

After a few months of mediocre-to-okay jobs growth, the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us that in June only 112,000 new jobs were created ... not enough even to keep up with population growth, let alone make up for the massive numbers of Dubya-era job losses. If I'm remembering right, this is on the heels of their announcement that last week's first-time unemployment claims increased, to 351,000. Oops.

What's worse is that the percentage of Americans who are employed has fallen from about 64.5% at the end of Clinton's 2nd term to about 62% now. Not only are there over a million fewer jobs than there were 4 years ago, there are about 5 million more people (potentially) in the workforce today - so we're really in a 6 million job hole, not 1 million.

Paul Krugman gives the details in his column today. For even more detail, with groovy graphs and all, see Brad DeLong's June 23rd blog post on the topic.

Direct from the source
Kerry – Edwards
A New Team for a New America

July 06, 2004

For Immediate Release
Pittsburgh, PA

Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry announced today that he has chosen North Carolina Senator John Edwards to join his campaign to build a stronger America. Experienced, energetic leaders who will restore hope here at home and respect around the world, the Kerry-Edwards ticket represents a new team for a new America.

“John Edwards speaks the heart of America – hope and optimism,” Kerry said. “He is a lifelong champion for America’s families who has shown courage and conviction standing up for America’s values. In the Senate, he has a record of reaching across Party lines and working to reform our intelligence, to combat bioterrorism and keep our military strong. Together, we will campaign tirelessly across the country – fighting to build an America that is stronger at home and respected in the world.”

Edwards will be a passionate advocate for the Kerry agenda of an America that is stronger at home and respected abroad. He has spent his lifetime – in and out of government - fighting for the same values and priorities as Kerry. Together, Kerry and Edwards will take this vision to Americans across the country, fighting for good paying jobs, affordable health care, energy independence, a strong military and a respected America that leads strong alliances around the world.

Kerry announced his choice this morning in an email to the heart and soul of his campaign – the more than one million grassroots supporters at johnkerry.com.

“In the next 120 days and in the administration that follows, John Edwards and I will be fighting for the America we love,” Kerry said. “We'll be fighting to give the middle class a voice by providing good paying jobs and affordable health care. We'll be fighting to make America energy independent. We'll be fighting to build a strong military and lead strong alliances, so young Americans are never put in harm’s way because we insisted on going it alone. “

Ha Ha Ha Ha Ha
This IS funny!
NYPo Gephart front page

They are such dopes.

Compare and Contrast - WaPo v. NYPo

And here's the skinny from the Washington Post
Kerry Taps Edwards for Running Mate

By Dan Balz and Jim VandeHei
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, July 6, 2004; 7:58 AM

Sen. John F. Kerry has selected Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina as his vice presidential running mate, a Democratic source said early today.

Kerry informed Edwards of the decision in brief telephone call this morning and will make the public announcement at a rally in downtown Pittsburgh later this morning. The news also was released on Kerry's web site. The two will campaign together later today and this week.

Kerry and Edwards will team up against President Bush and Vice President Cheney in an election that already is one of the most intensive and negative in recent memory. Polls show Kerry and Bush running roughly even at this stage.

Edwards, 51, a wealthy former trial lawyer and first-term senator, was the last candidate standing against Kerry in the battle for the Democratic nomination earlier this year after igniting his candidacy with a surprise second-place finish to the Massachusetts senator in the Iowa caucuses.

His lone victory in the primaries came in his home state of South Carolina, but he made a lasting impression on many Democrats with his powerful message decrying the "two Americas," divided between the wealthy and the rest of the population, prompting some in the party to compare his campaign skills with those of former President Bill Clinton.

Democratic strategists said Edwards would add energy and excitement to the Democratic campaign, bring southern regional appeal to a ticket headed by a Bostonian and help Kerry woo suburban and swing voters in battleground states in the Midwest and elsewhere.


How ass-holish is the New York Post???

In a front-page, supposedly exclusive, story, the Post gets it colossally wrong! I expect this story to disappear from The Post's website very soon, so here it is, in full.

July 6, 2004 -- EXCLUSIVE

John Kerry has chosen Rep. Richard Gephardt, the veteran congressman from Missouri, to be his running mate, The Post has learned.

Gephardt, 63, a 28-year veteran of the House of Representatives, could be named by the presumptive Democratic nominee as the party's vice-presidential candidate as soon as today.

The Massachusetts senator was set to announce the winner of the veep-stakes at a rally this morning in Pittsburgh, according to several reports last night.

With the July 26 Democratic convention in Boston looming, Kerry is looking for some advantage in the polls, and is hoping his choice of running mate will be the answer.

The polls have consistently shown him neck and neck with President Bush.

Gephardt, who was House majority leader from 1989 to 1995 and minority leader until 2002, could be an asset to Kerry in key battleground states in the Midwest.

He also has long been known as a supporter of organized labor, which leans heavily Democratic.

Gephardt had been one of those vying for the Democratic nomination along with Kerry, but folded up his operation after failing to win the caucuses in the neighboring state of Iowa.

He also lost an attempt at the nomination in 1988 to Michael Dukakis.

After holding local office in his native St. Louis, Gephardt was first elected to Congress in 1976.

He is a graduate of Northwestern University and the University of Michigan law school.

He's has an extensive political résumé, but he may be too experienced. Gephardt could be viewed by voters as too much of a Washington insider.

There was early speculation that Kerry was going to make a bold choice by crossing party lines and asking Sen. John McCain (R.-Ariz.) to join the ticket. But McCain embarrassed Kerry by publicly declining.

Then many thought Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) would be the one, when it was learned he had cut short a family vacation at Florida's Walt Disney World last week so he could rush to see Kerry in Washington.

They met Thursday, according to sources close to the Kerry campaign.

But the sources also noted that Kerry held positive meetings with Gephardt and Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack.

Many Democrats had urged Kerry to turn to his former opponent Edwards, 51, whose youthful appearance and sunny campaign style during the primary made him a favorite among party activists.

Edwards also could have been competitive in the south, and the choice of Gephardt could be a sign that Kerry is "writing off" that region.

Edwards also lacked experience. He is a one-term senator whose lack of seasoning in foreign affairs could have made voters nervous about his ability to assume the presidency during a war or an international crisis.

It was thought that Kerry felt more comfortable with Gephardt than any of the other candidates. He even said he would have supported Gephardt if he were not running himself. Vilsack, 53, was the least known of the top contenders.

The Iowa governor was believed to be personally liked by Kerry and also hailed from the Midwest — but he was virtually unknown to voters.

Besides Pittsburgh, Kerry will also be in Indianapolis today and will head to Cleveland, Cincinnati and Milwaukee before coming to New York at the end of the week for several fund-raisers.

With Post Wire Services

This story is accurate enough to have come from Matt Drudge!

This just in - it's Edwards

John Kerry has picked his running mate - it is Senator John Edwards of North Carolina.

Reports were that Kerry and Edwards had some personal friction ... but Edwards is probably a better pick than Gephart to inspire voters.

More details once the story hits the wires.

Monday, July 05, 2004

Do you suppose Dubya understands irony?
CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Defending the war in Iraq, President Bush said on Independence Day that America is safer because Saddam Hussein is in a prison cell.

"Our immediate task in battle fronts like Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere is to capture or kill the terrorists ... so we do not have to face them here at home," Bush told a cheering crowd outside the West Virginia Capitol.


Two Bush opponents, taken out of the crowd in restraints by police, said they were told they couldn't be there because they were wearing shirts that said they opposed the president.

Sunday, July 04, 2004


Best Maplewood 4th of July fireworks ever! (Well, at least since I've lived here).

Big thanks and congratulations to the 4th of July Committee.

Give us back our damn flag!

We on the left have for many years now been tarred with the brush of un-patriotism, if not outright treason. Nothing could be further from the truth. We love our country as much as, if not more than, any rah-rah jingoist.

In an L.A. Weekly op-ed piece called Give Us Back Our Damn Flag: The leftist case for patriotism, Peter Dreier and Dick Flacks make a case for liberals and progressives to reclaim our right to be seen as patriots, and to claim the flag as a symbol of our patriotism. The difference between blind patriotism and what the left has is that we don't see only the good - we also see how much there is that can be better. It's like the Jewish concept of Tikkun Olam - we don't just take the world as is, it's our job to make it better than we found it.

What's Eating Fred Profeta?

In honor of Independence Day and our always-under-attack Constitution, I offer this letter, which I'm submitting to the News-Record tomorrow.
Several weeks ago, at a meeting of the Maplewood Township Committee, Springfield Avenue Partnership President (and former Mayor) Vic DeLuca presented the recommendation of the Partnership that the new police headquarters facility be located at the Maplewood Tire site instead of the Bette White location. Rather than simply thanking the Partnership and Mr. DeLuca for their input, Mayor Profeta took the opportunity both to dismiss the concerns of the Partnership's members and to chastise Mr. DeLuca at length for bringing them forward. The reason? It was unseemly (Mr. Profeta's word) to bring the issue up again after a decision had already been made by the Township Committee.

In the 7/1/2004 issue of The News-Record, Mr. Profeta published a "Point of View" op-ed piece entitled Late opposition threatens a democratic process. His column once again excoriated the Partnership for pressing their case even after the Township Committee had voted on the issue. Mr. Profeta's rationale for criticizing them (and, this time around, the Hilton Neighborhood Association too) was that, just by expressing a contrary opinion, they oppose and threaten the democratic process itself.

In what conceivable sense can a group of citizens, presenting their opinion about matters that directly affect them, be considered a threat to democracy? Democracy is, after all, government by the will of the people. It's worth noting, as we celebrate our Independence Day holiday, that freedom of speech, particularly political speech concerning matters of public policy, is the most fundamental right that we Americans possess. The Springfield Avenue Partnership, consisting of dozens of businesses on the Avenue, and the Hilton Neighborhood Association, representing nearly a thousand homeowners in the Springfield Avenue area, have re-examined the Police Headquarters issue. They have reached a new, democratically arrived at, position – and wanted to present their findings, and their feelings, to their representatives on the Township Committee.

Put aside the merits of any particular site for Maplewood's police headquarters. Just consider Mr. Profeta's Point of View. To have "the people" express their considered, and reconsidered, opinion, he says, threatens democracy - a system defined by “We the People.” For an elected American official to espouse such an opinion is at best, well, unseemly.

Why does Bob Novak Hate America?

I don't usually watch CNN's Crossfire - TV watching (besides HBO Sunday nights) is not my thing. But I read about Novak's little set-to with Paul Begala the other night, and it makes me wonder again why Novak is still being taken seriously by anyone, let alone published and invited onto the "talking head" shows. Robert Novak is a shameful excuse for a journalist ... go read.

Happy 4th of July!

See you at the fireworks in Memorial Park.

A cool new Essex County blog

Be sure to check out Debbie Galant's cool new website/blog, Barista of Bloomfield Ave. It's featured today in the Newark Star-Ledger. To give you the flavor of the place, there's a little survey there today asking which city has the best fireworks - the choices are: Montclair, Bloomfield, Brookdale Park, In my back yard, or Baghdad.

Now all she needs to do is remember us here in Maplewood and South Orange. We can be as cool (COOLER!) than Montclair, Glen Ridge, and Bloomfield.

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