Friday, June 30, 2006

FLESH, INK. FRIDAY - Zodiac Body Art

Today marks a first for FLESH, INK. FRIDAY. One of my goals in creating this feature was to celebrate the artists in this particular genre, and give them a bit of exposure (huh huh... "exposure"... there's got to be a joke there, but I'll spare us the comedy) for the incredible work they do.

This week marks the first time where I'm able to find no information about the specific artist. I've been investigating for a while now, as well. I've finally determined that maybe by posting the pictures, someone might have information that they would forward to me.

As is the case with most of our features, the artistry is spectacular in these Signs of the Zodiac works. They are all represented on this web site, but I can't seem to find any other information about the artist or the work.

I'm happy to reward anyone who can get some more information to me with some free Pressing The Flesh paraphenalia... in the meantime, please enjoy these fantastic works by our mystery featured artist this week.

Previously on FLESH, INK. FRIDAY: Artdream / Lothar Potzl / Martin Armand / Karada Kesho / Leroy Roper /Joel Hernandez / Filippo Ioco / Agnieszka Glinska / EMBODY / Bernd Rantscheff / Barbara Ingenhaag / Images from Burning Man / Anton ten Dam / Pashur / Earth Henna / Wilderness Bodypainting / Carolyn Roper / The Australian Museum / Jodee Lenaine Smith / Fredi Schmid / Vladimir Valenta / Anthony Chiappin and Andrew Dunbar / Rich Diltz / Flesh and Color

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Posted by FleshPresser at 9:15 AM /

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Stewart Speaks On The Minimum Wage

Leave it to Jon Stewart to sum up my feelings precisely in the scope of about a minute and a half. Thanks, Jon!

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Posted by FleshPresser at 2:15 PM /

Did He Say What I Thought He Said?

Probably not. So now you can go to this website, and make him say the words you always wanted to hear him say.

It's a fantasy, but it's a start.


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Posted by FleshPresser at 2:04 PM /

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Road To Washington Weekly - June 28, 2006

Last week, we initiated this new feature as a way to keep tabs on how potential candidates for the Democratic Presidential nomination are positioning themselves, and what actions they've taken in any given week.

There are a few minor shifts in this week's list, as well as noteworthy news for each of the potential candidates. Without further ado is this week's list:

1. Russ Feingold (Last Week's position - #1)
It's hard for me to believe that Russ Feingold is not the clear frontrunner for the nomination, although it's fine with me that he's not, as frontrunners tend to lose their momentum (see Hillary Clinton), and Feingold is positioned perfectly.

Check out Feingold from this past Sunday's Meet The Press:

Here's the timeline - Bush and Cheney state that the worst possible resolution to Iraq is to pull our troops out on a timetable. Senator Feingold proposes legislation on the Senate floor to begin a troop withdrawl on a specific timetable. Senate Republicans begin their mantra of "cut and run" and the proposal is defeated, but Feingold remains resolute. The next day, General Casey proposes a troop withdrawl on a specific timetable that is identical to what Feingold has proposed. Take that, Apologists.

Feingold, in this seven minute clip, explains his position clearly and speaks in a way that all Americans can understand. Those who state that the Deomcrats don't have a plan need to pay attention to Feingold.

Combine this with his eloquent words on the floor of the Senate with regard to the flag desecration amendment yesterday (or listen to it here), and Feingold had a great week.

* Senate Debates Feingold Proposal
* Feingold on Meet The Press - full interview
* Feingold Fights For "Buy American" Reporting Requirement - Attached to Department of Defense Authorization bill
* Hands Up In Support of Feingold

2. John Edwards (Last Week's Position - #3)
Edwards had a good week, garnering significant attention - particularly in light of the fact that he no longer works in Congress and doesn't have a successful documentary playing in theatres. So, how'd he do it?

Edwards laid out a comprehensive "Working Contract" designed to cut poverty by a third in 10 years, and eliminate it in thirty. He proposed to radically overhaul the Department of Housing and Urban Development, to create 1 million "stepping stone" jobs over the next five years, to raise the minimum wage, and to refocus the American education system.

"What kind of America do we want — not just today, but 20 years from now? And how do we think we can get there from here?" Edwards has charm and charisma, and as he test-runs campaign themes with events like this, he may have the substance behind him, as well.

* Edwards Plans Events in Iowa - Can You Spell "Caucus?"
* Washington Post article on Edward's appearance at the National Press Club
* Edwards Coordinating Support
* Edwards Announces His Wife is Cancer-Free (this was a condition of him running for office again, if you recall)

3. Barack Obama (Last Week's Position - #2)
Obama definitely has the star power to remain high in this week's listing. He might begin slipping, however, if his celebrity doesn't translate into taking firm positions on some of the issues, as well as plans for what he might do differently. The current rap on Obama is that he avoids confrontation, which could ultimately be an asset or a detriment. Still, anyone who becomes a subject for Annie Leibovitz, especially a politician, has achieved rock star status.

* Barack to the Future

4. Al Gore (Last Week's Position - #5)
I'm still not at all convinced that Al Gore is going to run in 2008. I actually believe that he's really content doing what he's doing right now, as a matter of fact.

So, why does he move up this week? One reason, and one reason only. He forced George Bush to address the issue of global warming.

An Inconvenient Truth has continued to expand its audience in a busy summer at the box office, making close to $10 million in the five weeks since it's opened - that may be chump change in Hollywood, but there are interesting facts buried in the stats here - it's take at the box office cxontinues to grow each week, meaning that it's business has not been declining as is true of most summer films. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, everyone is talking about Al Gore's issues - regardless of whether they agree or not.

* Gore's Documentary Wins Humanitas Prize
* Al Gore Will Not Seek Presidency

5. Mark Warner (Last Week's Position - #4)
All in all, a pretty quiet week for the former Governor of Virginia. Warner is still largely seen as the moderate alternative to Hillary Clinton... whatever that means. While he reached out to bloggers with his extravagant Blogosphere at the Stratosphere party at this year's YearlyKos, there may be some controversy brewing over it. Something about Jerome Armstrong (founder of MyDD), who was hired by Warner as an Internet counsultant, and his relation to Daily Kos and Markos Moulitsas Zuniga (founder of Daily Kos). As Armstrong began working for a given candidate, that candidate would allegedly begin being pimped by Kos. Very underground, conspiratorial stuff - but not great news for Warner, who laid out all that money to get attached to this "underground blogosphere."

6. Wesley Clark - (Last Weeks' position - #6)
Slow news cycle for General Clark. other than the fact that his website, WesPAC, garners more online hits than similar sites for John Kerry, John Edwards, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, Hillary Clinton, or Bill Frist.... So, that has to mean something, right?

* Model of a Modern Major General?

7. Bill Richardson - (Last Week's Position - #9)
Richardson moves up not so much as a result of his own work, but more to the incompetance of potentials like Biden, Kerry, and Clinton. Richardson's news isn't sexy this week, but very workmanlike for a Governor. He largely spent the week working hard for the people of New Mexico. Still, with issues like immigration being so prominent these days, you might think that a Governor of a southwetern state with a background like Richardson's might be more "out-in-front".

* Richardson Decries Plan to Dismantle Worker Safety Agency
* Richardson Announces Ethanol Plant in New Mexico

8. Joe Biden - (Last Week's Position - #7)
Sure, he's visible alright - but that's not always a good thing. I won't bore you with his tired work in the Senate this week. Instead, I choose to focus on how Biden courted the youth vote this week. Biden launched an organization called Generation United, a youth-oriented arm of his PAC. For $40 a pop, twenty-somethings drank purple martinis and listened to Joe Biden state:
Folks, I don’t want to live in the White House.... I will – don’t get me wrong. But I’m not big on the trappings of the office. I would rather go home to Delaware and make love with my wife when the kids are gone from the house.
Now how long is it going to take me to get THAT picture out of my head???

* Biden Courts Youth Vote
* Biden Praises Teamsters
* Senators Call For Direct Talks With North Korea

9. John Kerry - (Last Week's Position - #10)
Kerry moves up a notch for his stand on the troop pull-out in Iraq, legislation he co-sponsored with Russ Feingold that was significantly stronger than the weaker Levin version of the legislation. Still, after the defeat in the Senate, Feingold went on to have a great week, while press was largely negative for Kerry. Maybe he remains a larger target than Feingold right now, but conservatives attack him very easily, and he does little to help himself.

* Congress to Kerry: Oh, Shut Up
* Kerry Was For Finishing The Mission In Iraq, Before He Was Against It

10. Hillary Clinton - (Last Week's Position - #8)
Realistically, the three bottom positions in this poll should all be tied. Hillary is really no worse than Kerry or Biden in terms of her prospects, and truith be told, she has more money that the other two combined. And she is an amazing fundraiser for other Democratic candidates.

So, why is she at the bottom? Like I said at the beginning of this week's column - frontrunners at this stage tend to run out of steam, and this appears to be happening to Hillary Clinton. She is routinely a target of conservatives, obviously. But as of late, more and more Democrats are taking their once solid support of her away. Perhaps its because they feel she cannot win with the name "Clinton" attached to her. I disagree, and feel that it's because of her wishy-washy politics as of late.

* New Ratings Create Buzz For Clinton
* Clinton in New Hampshire
* Clinton Hires Blogger
* Female Base For Hillary In '08 Isn't A Gimme

So, that's the list. Next week, we'll take a break from the Democrats and begin to focus on Republicans, and their struggle to position themselves close to their base, without alienating their base, while supporting Bush, while not been seen as too close to Bush, while trying to... well, you get the point.

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Posted by FleshPresser at 2:59 PM /

Senate Democrats Want More Money... For YOU!

The battle for an increase in the minimum wage took a new turn yesterday.

Yes, Senate Republicans can push with President Bush for tax cuts, but they aren't tax cuts that anyone but the wealthiest Americans will actually see in any meaningful way - although it sure will make some of the tax load easier on...well, a lot of Senate Republicans.

And those Senate Republicans can vote themselves a pay raise, as well. That'll certainly help the bottom line for... well, a lot of Senate Republicans.

Well, Senate Democrats finally grew a pair with regard to this debate, and after falling eight votes short of the necessary 60 votes required to pass the minimum wage increase, they've developed a new strategy.

Yesterday, Senate Minorty Leader Harry Reid announced that Senate Democrats would block any Congressional pay raises until this legislation passes - including the pay raise that just took place this past week.

The pay raise is not voted on by Congress, but rather attached to an annual apprpriations bill, and Reid and the Democrats stated that they would use a variety of procedural means to block the pay increase until such time as the minimum wage legislation was passed.

Every time I'm about ready to throw in the towel on the Democrats, they find their backbone on at least one issue, and begin to try and accomplish something.

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Posted by FleshPresser at 11:03 AM /

Getting In Touch With Your Inner Shakespeare

Many of you know that in my life outside of the blogosphere, I'm a theatre director and actor. I know that many of my readers are also involved with the theatre, and as such, I wanted to pass along this tremendous opportunity.

A colleague, mentor, and very close friend of mine is leading a unique, personally transformative acting intensive in Shakespeare over the summer in New York City.

"Where Motive and Language Meet" is being led by Stan Brown and Jennifer McCabe, and is a two-day workshop of practical exercises that equips actors with commercial skills in analyzing and performing both Shakespeare and contemporary texts. This unique acting intensive focuses on finding and keeping the ever-shifting balance between personal and textual rhythms.

Stan is an amazing instructor, as well as a beautiful human being, and if you have any interest at all, you should RUN - not walk - to sign up for this workshop.

Dates are July 15-16, 22-23, 29-30, and August 5-6. More information can be found by visiting the web site.

If Shatner can perform Shakespeare, think what YOU can do!

Disclaimer: Shatner's performance should in no way be connected to the fine work of Stan Brown and/or Jennifer McCabe.

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Posted by FleshPresser at 10:10 AM /

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Burn This Blog

Today marks the day that the United States Senate once again tries to take our attention away from what is truly important in this country, to argue for a hollow, destructive, and truly un-American amendment - the "flag desecration" amendment.

As regular readers of PTF know, I've already been on my soapbox over this smokescreen.

If this Amendment passes, I will never fly an American flag again. This may sound extreme, but let me explain. I view the flag as a symbol... a symbol of our freedoms as American citizens. By amending our Constitution in this way, the symbol becomes hollow, and as such, loses its intrinsic values that are allegedly being protected.

I find far more heinous "desecrations" of the American flag every day in my community - the magnetic flag slapped on the back of a minivan, caked in mud - a supposed sign of uber-patriotism. The miniature flags parked along the curb by a realtor on Flag Day to draw attention to an Open House - long since forgotten and left in the rain soaked gutter. The American flag "Made in China," hanging as decorative trim in a store window's Fourth of July Sales Extravaganza.

Need more examples of flag desecration currently unrecognized as such? Take a look at some of the pictures I posted earlier.

The President of the United States, writing directly on the flag, in clear violation of the current United States Code - the individual who is allegedly the Standard Bearer is a Flag Desecrator:

According to the Citizens Flag Alliance, an organization that SUPPORTS the amendment, there were only twelve instances of flag desecration in this country in all of 2005. In 2004, there were three. In each of these cases, laws were already in place to punish the perpetrators.

More often than not, those who choose to desecrate a flag intentionally do so to someone else's flag - not their own. In other words, they choose to destroy the property of someone else. As such, there are laws which ALREADY exist to punish these people. The amendment is simply unnecessary.

Is flag burning ugly? Absolutely. But in America, we protect the rights of people to do ugly things. I cannot believe some of the ugly, despicable, and utterly hateful things that come out of the mouth of Ann Coulter. But she is protected not only to speak those words, but to publish and distribute those words in a variety of means. My stomach turns at the thought of the mere existence of the KKK in this country, but we protect the right of this hate group to assemble, to this day.

These are the costs of living in a country where freedom is TRULY a valuable commodity. And an occasional flag burning may be a part of that cost, as well. Despicable? Certainly. But meritorious of amending the Constitution? Never.

I've linked to this Washington Post story above, but this specific paragraph bears highlighting:
Fortunately, the Senate will have plenty of time to discuss that matter. The chamber has scheduled up to four days of debate on the flag-burning amendment this week. If that formula -- one day of Senate debate for each incident of flag burning this year -- were to be applied to other matters, the Senate would need to schedule 12 days of debate to contemplate the number of years before Medicare goes broke, 335 days of debate for each service member killed in Iraq this year and 11 million days of debate on the estimated number of illegal immigrants in the country.
The United States Senate is guilty of perpetrating a fraud against the American people in even pursuing this amendment to our United States Constitution, and should be ashamed for trying to protect our rights by limiting them. By placing such importance on the mere symbol, they disregard the importance of what they symbol represents.

UPDATE: The Sentate voted 66-34 on the Amendment this evening. It needed two-thirds, or 67 votes to pass, and so the Amendment was defeated. Obviously a staged vote. What surprised me were the number of Democrats who voted in favor of this Amendment - please feel free to share your displeasure with the following Democrats - Max Baucus (D-Montana), Evan Bayh (D - Indiana, and a potential 2008 Democratic Pres. candidate - yeah, right), Mark Dayton (D - Minnesota), Dianne Feinstein (D - California), Tim Johnson (D- South Dakota), Mary Landrieu (D - Louisiana), Blanche Lincoln (D - Arkansas - yeah.. who?), Robert Menendez (D - New Jersey - I KNOW we have some NJ readers here), Bill Nelson (D - Florida), Harry Reid (D - Nevada - current SENATE MINORITY LEADER... idiot), John D. Rockefeller (D - West Virginia), Ken Salazar (D - Colorado), and Debbie Stabenow (D - Michigan).

Three Republicans deserve a tip of the hat for voting with the rest of the level-headed Democrats on this Amendment. They are Bob Bennett (R - Utah), Lincoln Chaffee (R - Rhode Island), and Mitch McConnell (R - Kentucky, and definitely the biggest fish in this bunch - if Democrats win back the Majority in the fall, McConnell could very well become Minorty Leader).

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Posted by FleshPresser at 11:31 AM /

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Insanity Of Santorum

I didn't want to go too long without commenting on this story, but watching it continue to develop, I couldn't wait any longer.

Today's Wall Street Journal carries a column by Rick Santorum defending his press conference regarding the alleged discovery of WMDs in Iraq. Despite all of the facts coming out against this "new discovery," Rick Santorum and the Apologists continue to make feeble attempts to retroactively legitimize the war in Iraq by suggesting that Saddam, in fact, DID have WMDs.

This, despite the fact that the Department of Defense has already stated that these weapons were there prior to the Iraq-Iran war, were degraded beyond the point of usefullness, and WERE NOT the weapons in question as we decided to go to war with Iraq.

Look, Apologists... even the Bush Administration, KNOWN for its ability to latch on to a good lie and run with it... have steered clear of this one.

Here's the chain of events. For those regular readers of PTF who trust me to point you in the right direction for your news, please note - I will be linking to several unsavory websites in telling this story - I ask that you look at all of the links, as it shows what the Apologists are attempting to feed America as a feces-laced excuse for the truth.

This will more than likely be a lengthy post, as well - not the typical style here, but worth the additional space and time.

Last Wednesday, Rick Santorum and Peter Hoekstra held a hurried press conference to exclaim to the world that WMDs had indeed been found in Iraq. Cable news networks were quick to jump on this news and run with it:

Let's pick apart what was reported here on Faux News... Faux host E.D. Hill intros the interview with Santorum by stating the Administration position:
"'...there's WMD there, we gotta take them out, they've used it in the past, they're going to use it again'... Saddam says 'I've gotten rid of it all'... and everyone around the world... all the intelligence says, 'Bull'... guess what? They found it!"
So, right from the start, the lies have begun. The WMDs that Santorum speaks of are NOT the weapons that the Administration was concerned about prior to the start of the war. In fact, the day BEFORE this interview, the Department of Defense came out and stated this. During weapons inspections that the ISG were conducting, it was widely reported that these isolated degraded caches were being found, and were found to be about as lethal as anything you might have under your kitchen sink.

She also states:
"I can't believe that the Administration isn't shouting it from the rooftops...."
Hmmm... ever stop to think why that may be, E.D.?

As the interview begins, and Santorum begins trumpeting his discovery, Faux Lunkhead Steve Doocey states:
"We understand, Senator, that a lot of them were old things.. probably before '91, but they're still potent, and they're still weapons of mass destruction...."
Yes, and there are land mines that remain buried to this day in over 80 countries around the world, but that hasn't led the United States to attack these countries... it hasn't even led the United States to ratify the antipersonnel mine ban treaty.

Santorum states:
"I remind people that we have reports from when Saddam bombed the Kurds with chemical weapons, three of these sarin-filled munitions killed 5,000 people...."
Yes, Rick. We have all stipulated the point that Saddam was a bad man, that he killed people in horrible ways, and that these chemical weapons that he had AT THAT TIME were dangerous. What is NOT mentioned here is that those weapons were used when they were still at their full potency.

This argument is like saying that you found an old munition on the battlefield of Gettysburg, and then reminding people of how many people were killed with that Civil War relic, in hopes that you'd convince them it was still capable of that power.

Santorum continues:
"The big concern we had... is that Saddam had these weapons, he said he didn't. He lied obviously. Not Bush, but Saddam lied that he didn't have these munitions...."
Sorry, Rick. Wrong answer. Bush DID lie. More than Saddam did, at least in this given instance. What is being found are isolated deposits of degraded weapons left over from a previous war that went unaccounted for. These are weapons that were buried by troops during the war prior to 1991, and that were not accounted for as "being destroyed" any more than another military power would account for unused land mines buried during a military conflict.

Bush, on the other hand, DIRECTLY LIED about the rationale for war, stating that Saddam was not only reconstituting chemical and biological weapons programs, of which there is NO PROOF being found to this day - a fact that Bush stipulates himself according to the final report of the ISG. HE LIED in stating that there was any possible means of delivering these said WMDs in any way, of which there was none. HE LIED in stating that Saddam was building nuclear weapons, of which no proof has been found.

I won't continue to dissect this interview, as the lies become self-evident over and over again throughout the four minutes, and I would simply be repeating myself.

Instead, let's move on. Here's the Pentagon, and Donald Rumsfeld speaking on Wednesday shortly after Santorum's press conference - pay attention to how closely he parses his words here:

Rumsfeld is careful here not to overstate what was found, while not raining on Ricky's parade. Yes, we found these canisters. Yes, they probably had sarin in them at one point. Yes, sarin is bad. That's about as far as Rumsfeld willing to go.

Meanwhile, the Iraq Survey Group Final Report states that:
"While a small number of old, abandoned chemical munitions have been discovered, ISG judges that Iraq unilaterally destroyed its undeclared chemical weapons stockpile in 1991. There are no credible indications that Baghdad resumed production of chemical munitions thereafter, a policy ISG attributes to Baghdad’s desire to see sanctions lifted, or rendered ineffectual, or its fear of force against it should WMD be discovered."
This report in 2004, coincidentally, was what convinced Bush himself that Saddam did not have the weapons that initiated our war with Iraq. Read it in Bush's own words.

Not only this, but the DoD actually denounced the news that Santorum delivered - a fact which Santorum received live on the air.

Quoting the source at the Department of Defense:
"This does not reflect a capacity that was built up after 1991.... (these weapons) are not the WMDs this country and the rest of the world believed Iraq had, and not the WMDs for which this country went to war."
Or perhaps you'd prefer to hear it from the words of David Kay, former UN Chief Weapons Inspector and Former Iraq Survey Group Chief, appointed by none other than George Bush himself. He clearly stated that Santourm presented information that was:
"...wrong as to the facts and exaggerated beyond all reason as to the interpretation of the "facts'. There is no surprise that very small numbers of chemical canisters from the Iran-Iraq war have been found. The ISG found them and in my testimony in 2004 I said that I expected that we would continue to find them for a long time. These are in very small numbers and are scattered. The nerve agents have long since degraded to the point that they no longer pose any substantial threat."
No doubt that by this point, most rational people would end the discussion. After all, is it the contention of the Republican Right Wing that the White House wouldn't declassify information about WMDs the MOMENT that they were found after all of these years of criticism it has received for lying about the reasons we went to war in the first place?

Is it the contention of these Apologists that, beyond the baisc facts, the White House would supress this information based on the notion that it didn't want to embarrass the CIA - the same CIA of which the White House has been so critical?

Or is it more likely that a Senator from Pennsylvania is down by huge numbers in the polls, and is trying desperately to save his political life?

Despite this, the retroactive justification continues. Idiotic Apologist bloggers are suggesting that not only that George Bush never lied about WMDs based on the press conference held by Rick Santorum, but that Democrats should be publicly apologizing for ever doubting the President.

It truly takes an idiot to suppose that these "newly discovered" caches equate with an imminent threat. What becomes moronic is the supposition that somehow the White House is trying to cover up this fact.

Thank God for folks like Keith Olbermann, who just body slams the entire story here:

If Santorum hadn't already sealed his fate in November, he certainly has now.

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Posted by FleshPresser at 2:58 PM /

Sunday, June 25, 2006

The Week That Was - June 25, 2006

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Posted by FleshPresser at 12:14 AM /

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Minimum Wage Update

Despite the failure of the Republican-led Congress to do the right thing with regard to the minimum wage law, PTF would like to applaud our home state legislature of Pennsylvania, whose Senate voted 36-14 on Thursday to raise the state's minimum wage from a current $5.15 an hour to $7.15 by July 1, 2007. The first increase, to $6.25 an hour, will start on January 1st, followed by the full increase to $7.15 in July.

The Senate bill has one hitch - an exemption for small businesses with ten or fewer employees. These businesses will follow a pay schedule of $5.65 and $6.15 in the time frame, being required to move to the full $7.15 in 2008.

There is hope to have this exemption removed, as the House passed its own legislation with no exemptions in April. There is a week left in the Pennsylvania legislature prior to their two-month summer recess.

While not perfect by any means, this legislation will represent a significant increase in wages for the working poor of Pennsylvania. Congratulations to State Senate Democrats, who managed to put pressure on Republican leadership, in coordination with labor unions and advocates for the poor to bring this vote to the floor.

Perhaps U.S. Congressional Democrats could take a page from our Democrats here in Pennsylvania in how to make this legislation work on a Federal level.

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Posted by FleshPresser at 12:55 AM /

Friday, June 23, 2006

Happy Endings

Well, it's been a hell of a week. And it's really hard to see past all of the horror happening here at home, as well as around the world.

This is NOT to say that we should ignore what's going on... no no no no no.... we must remain vigilant.

That being said, we also have to take a break, and find time for the joy. Last night, I had a moment like this when my son and I took a walk and caught fireflies together for the first time. Mid way through our walk, he reached his arm around me, looked up at me and said, "I love you, Daddy."

Good stuff.

So, I share this video with you for that reason. Here's a guy that's travelling the world - all over the world.

And he dances... not any fancy dance. Just throwing his limbs around and flailing about in what can only be called a truly joyful way.

You can check out more about Matt and his dancing travels here at his web site.

It just made me smile - felt like something I wished I could do. Hope it makes you happy on this end of the week, as well.

No worries, we'll be back to the vigilance and angst tomorrow. There's PLENTY waiting for us.

Posted by FleshPresser at 2:17 PM /

Whose Line Is It Anyway - Coulter V. Hitler

You may think it would be fairly simple to distinguish between the words of Ann Coulter and those of Adolf Hitler.

You might be surprised.

Take this short quiz and let us know how you did in the comments section.

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Posted by FleshPresser at 1:44 PM /


Andreas Gasper is a German artist living in Wuppertal, and when he isn't working as a science journalist and author, he works on Artdream, working as a multi-faceted artist. In addition to his bodypainting work displayed here, Andreas works in film, traditional painting, and embroidery.

His bodypainting images range in content from the surreal to the whimsical, taking inspiration from subjects within nature, as well as his vivid imagination. Vibrant colors mark a great deal of his work, although many play with illusion - allowing the body to disappear within the image.

His gallery has dozens of different images, and is well worth the perusal, as are his other artistic galleries. Enjoy!

Previously on FLESH, INK. FRIDAY: Lothar Potzl / Martin Armand / Karada Kesho / Leroy Roper /Joel Hernandez / Filippo Ioco / Agnieszka Glinska / EMBODY / Bernd Rantscheff / Barbara Ingenhaag / Images from Burning Man / Anton ten Dam / Pashur / Earth Henna / Wilderness Bodypainting / Carolyn Roper / The Australian Museum / Jodee Lenaine Smith / Fredi Schmid / Vladimir Valenta / Anthony Chiappin and Andrew Dunbar / Rich Diltz / Flesh and Color

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Posted by FleshPresser at 1:17 PM /

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Some For Me - None For You

In 1996, the average cost of gas was $1.15 - ten years later, that same gallon of gas costs $3.19, on average.

In 1996, the average cost of a gallon of milk was $2.60 - ten years later, that same gallon of milk costs $3.79, on average.

In 1996, Members of Congress earned $133,600 - ten years later, Congress just voted to give themselves a pay raise, making their salary $168,500.

In 1996, the minimum wage was set at $5.15 an hour. Ten years later, it remains at $5.15 an hour.

For the average full time employee, working 52 weeks of the year and 40 hours a week, that amounts to $10,712 - and that's gross salary.

In 2003, the poverty threshold for a family of four, established by the United States Census Bureau, was $18,810. By that standard, there were 35.9 million people living below the poverty line.

In 2004, that same poverty line was adjusted to $19,307, due to cost of living increases. The official number of people living below the poverty line increased to 37 million.

The numbers for 2005 will be reported on August 30 of this year, and we can only expect the numbers to once again increase, given the rising cost of gasoline and other goods.

What hasn't changed amidst this? That minimum wage remains at $5.15 an hour. $10,712 a year. The poverty line almost DOUBLES what a minimum wage worker is able to earn in the United States.

Keep in mind - these are not jobs that offer health insurance. No paid vacation. Clock in and clock out for lunch. Have to miss work because a child is sick? It's coming out of your pay. Death in the family? That's too bad. No pay. Can't get to work because the car broke down and it has to be repaired? Go ahead and get it fixed. But no pay.

There are those who would argue that the minimum wage is nothing more than a summer wage for high school kids,. but this is simply not true. 35 percent of those earning minimum wages are sole breadwinners and the typical minimum-wage worker brings in half of total family income.

The Republican-led Congress had an opportunity to remedy this huge problem yesterday, but decided to take a pass and let the problem exacerbate further. I specifically use the words "Republican-led" because the vote, as it has every year for the last ten years, fell largely along party lines. Democrats voted for the minimum wage increase, and Republicans, with some exception, voted against it.

Keep in mind, we're talking about an increase to $7.25 - over the course of more than TWO YEARS. $7.25 an hour. That brings that full-time employee up to $15,080 gross - and that's TWO YEARS from now. It still doesn't bring the family above the poverty line, and who knows where that line will be adjusted to in another two years.

But the Republican-led Senate, in its infinite wisdom, decided that this wouldn't be a good move. Except for four of the Republicans, who voted FOR the minimum wage increase, who also happen to be up for re-election in the fall. Somehow, THEY saw the wisdom in at least appearing as though they were in favor of the increase.

Gosh, wonder why they would want to give that appearance?

The same Republican-led Congress, whose own salary has gone up nearly $35,000 in the last ten years, felt that a $4500 increase for a full-time working parent raising their child in poverty would not be prudent.

The same Republican-led Congress, who can take billions of our tax dollars and throw it at the oil companies in the form of subsidies, all the while watching the price of gas continue to climb, which in turn pushes those under economic strain further over the edge - that same Congress decided that it was best to leave the minimum wage at $5.15 an hour.

There was a popular phrase used a few decades ago to describe communism - "Better Dead Than Red". This phrase seems entirely appropriate to now affix to the Red State Republicans and their utterly inneffectual leadership of this country.

Better Dead Than Red!!!

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Posted by FleshPresser at 1:24 AM /

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

The Road To Washington Weekly - June 21, 2006

Although today marks the official beginning of summer, it also means there are officially only 866 days until the 2008 Presidential Election - too early to start paying attention? Not at all... candidates are obviously already raising money, refining message points, and positioning themselves for a potential 2008 Presidential bid.

We here at PTF will make The Road To Washington a weekly feature, taking a very individual opinion poll of how the potential candidates are doing, and whose stock is going up or down on any given week.

I will provide a personalized list of those candidates whom I believe to be the best Democratic candidates for 2008 - this list will obviously shift from week to week, but I will try to give explanation to the poll positions.

Initially, we will keep the list at ten candidates - please let us know if you feel someone more important has been left off the list. As we get into the Primary season, the list will dwindle down to five candidates.

We will also include a listing of Republican candidates and their activity from time to time, in addition to any potential "other" items of interest, including a focus on third party candidates and other developments.

So, without further ado, here is the inaugural listing for The Road To Washington:

1. Russ Feingold - I've made my case here on PTF for quite a while as to why I like Russ Feingold so much, so this should come as no surprise. Feingold has long been the leading candidate in straw polls, only to be ignored in more mainstream polls. This week's U.S. News and World Report, however, mentions Feingold in the same breath as Warner and Clinton.

2. Barack Obama - Like so many others on this list, Obama has not declared himself to be a candidate. There was a really nice story about him, however, in The Washington Post and it's hard to ignore the potential of this charismatic Senator from Illinois. Obviously, it's easier for a Democrat to play in Chicago, but Obama's success in the "heartland" of southern Illinois as well as in the urban areas make him a VERY attractive candidate.

3. John Edwards - I've still got a soft spot in my heart for Edwards - he was the candidate I supported before Kerry became the eventual nominee. I think he has actually served himself well by taking himself off the radar for a while. While Al Gore has made the environment his pet issue, Edwards has chosen to focus on ending poverty, and is set to deliver a major policy address at The National Press Club tomorrow.

4. Mark Warner - There's no denying the appeal of Mark Warner and his ability to win over voters and draw consensus in a state like Virginia. He's a bit more conservative than I'd like, but he's beginning to talk tough, as well - taking a page out of Feingold's playbook, and making appearances most recently at places like last week's YearlyKos will raise his visibility, but I think Warner is most likely a lock for a veep position - not as a frontrunner.

5. Al Gore - No, he's not running again... at least that's what he says. Still, one has to question what a Gore campaign would look like if he had the same charisma and personality that he's shown lately in venues like his successful An Inconvenient Truth, his appearance on Saturday Night Live, or his interview with Keith Olbermann on Countdown. HIs book connected to the film debuted at #3 this week on the New York Times Bestsellers List. For all of his recent success, however, Gore still has baggage that probably won't allow him to win a Presidential election.

6. Wesley Clark - OK - I get it. He's a Democrat, and he's a former General. There's appeal for a man who truly understands the military to be in The White House. But if this is such a great idea, why didn't it work in 2004? He made the trip to YearlyKos, as well, and has support in the blogosphere. HIs PAC, Securing America, plays on his military experience, but I don't see enough credibility in Clark beyond his military experience.

7. Joe Biden - One of the few that has actually declared his candidacy, Biden prides himself on the fact that he doesn't beat around the bush. Don't get me wrong, I generally like Biden - but I think he represents the "Old Guard" Democrat, and is not what the party needs as a leader right now. I can't shake images of Biden sitting at those hearings, talking endlessly about himself, rather than asking tough questions of the nominee. If he heasn't been able to effectively work against the Republicans in the Senate, why should he be the man to take the White House seat?

8. Hillary Clinton - Too. Much. Baggage. Pure and simple. She's been a great addition to the Senate, and there's no doubt that she's been a great fundraiser in the Democratic party. There's no way she wins the White House in 2008, however, and so people need to stop talking about her and move on. If she's REALLY smart (and I think she is), she should have enough self-awareness to know this, and she should provide some "shock and awe" of her own by not running in '08.

As an aside here, can we PLEASE stop talking about Hillary as though there are not only two political parties in America, but only two political families? First, Reagan for 8 years with Bush as the Veep. Then Bush for four years. Then Clinton for eight years. Then Bush for eight years. Do we really want to consider Clinton for another four or eight years... followed by... I dunno... Jeb Bush for the next slot - are we THAT hard up in America for leadership that we can only turn to two families? I think not. But I digress.

9. Bill Richardson - I add Richardson here because I think he'll run. Not to win, but to be heard and to raise his visibility. At YearlyKos, he was one of the candidates making the rounds, but seemed out of touch with those to whom he was speaking. Richardson is an important voice in the party, but he will never be Presidential.

10. John Kerry - Yeah, OK. He was screwed in the 2004 election. Whatever. He had as much to blame on himself as he did on any poliing issues in Ohio. Kerry falls into the Biden category of Democrats. While someone like Gore has begun a rebirth, Kerry still has the stench of "loser" wafting from him, and his nomination as the Democratic candidate would be the death nail for the party in '08.

So, that's the list. What do you think? Please feel free to submit your lists, as well.

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Posted by FleshPresser at 11:40 AM /