Prosecute the torture.

April 24, 2015

Pew - The Trib Editorial Board Needs To Read Deeper

In case you missed it, the braintrust published this yesterday:
A new Pew Research Center poll suggests that 52 percent of Americans say protecting gun rights trumps the need for gun control. Replace the word “gun” in both references with the words “speech” or “press” or “religion” and gun-grabbers who can't fathom the poll results might better understand why so many Americans feel as they do about the right to bear arms. [Bolding in Original.]
Let's set aside the specious First Amendment argument and ponder (as always) what the braintrust decided not to tell you, its loyal readers.

For that we need to go to Pew Research Center - and let's be clear, they get the 52% right:
For the first time in more than two decades of Pew Research Center surveys, there is more support for gun rights than gun control. Currently, 52% say it is more important to protect the right of Americans to own guns, while 46% say it is more important to control gun ownership.

Support for gun rights has edged up from earlier this year, and marks a substantial shift in attitudes since shortly after the Newtown school shootings, which occurred two years ago this Sunday.
Pew released this data December 10, 2014.  I'm wondering how, in this 24-hr news cycle, 4 month old survey data is considered new, but that's beside the point I guess.

What is new at Pew is this follow up from a few days ago:
Why has public opinion shifted about gun control? As my colleagues at Pew Research Center have documented elsewhere, some of this is related to politics, as Republicans have become far more supportive of gun rights during the Obama years. The rise in support for gun rights has also spanned many other regional and demographic groups.
Which leads the writer of the piece, Andrew Kohut - founding director of Pew Research Center, off in a direction I am a not sure the Trib's braintrust would like:
But there may be another factor behind this shift: Americans’ changing perceptions about crime. Over the past 25 years or so, there has been a divergence between American perceptions about crime and actual crime rates. And those who worried about crime had favored stricter gun control; now, they tend to desire keeping the laws as they are or loosening gun control. In short, we are at a moment when most Americans believe crime rates are rising and when most believe gun ownership – not gun control – makes people safer. [Italics in Original.]
And then he does what the braintrust almost never does.  He supports his opinion with some facts:
In the 1990s, the rate of violent crimes plummeted by more than half nationwide. Public perceptions tracked right along, with the share saying there was more crime in the U.S. over the past year falling from 87% in 1993 to just 41% by 2001.

In the new century, however, there’s been a disconnect. A majority of Americans (63%) said in a Gallup survey last year that crime was on the rise, despite crime statistics holding near 20-year lows. [Emphasis added.]
And then he offers an explanation:
Why public views on crime have grown more dire is unclear, though many blame it on the nature of news coverage, reality TV and political rhetoric. Whatever the cause, this trend is not without consequence. Today, those who say that crime is rising are the most opposed to gun control: Just 45% want to see gun laws made more strict, compared with 53% of those who see crime rates as unchanged or dropping.
Hmmm...can you see why the Trib braintrust wouldn't want to discuss that part?  They'd rather use Pew research to make a cheap First Amendment joke than to write about any of the connection between the public's incorrect perception about crime rates and the public's perceived need for MORE GUNS FOR OUR PROTECTION!

And in case you missed it, I'll ask the rhetorical question alluded to in the Pew piece: where would the public have gotten the incorrect notion that crime rates are rising?  The news media perhaps?

And then here are my follow up rhetorical questions: Isn't the Tribune-Review part of the news media?  Isn't it, then, part of the problem?

Shouldn't that have been the point of the editorial?

April 23, 2015

Happy Openly Secular Day!

This is David, I'm openly secular, and today is Openly Secular Day:


So what does that mean?  Openly Secular?

From the website:
The mission of Openly Secular is to eliminate discrimination and increase acceptance by getting secular people - including atheists, freethinkers, agnostics, humanists and nonreligious people - to be open about their beliefs.
Of the above list I would count myself among the agnostics, though that's more a definition question than anything else.  That is to say, it's how one defines each of those terms that delineates who's in which set.

For example if I were to start with these two defnintions:
Atheist - One who holds the denial of the statement "God exists." to be true.

Agnostic - One who holds that the statement "God exists." to be unknowable on account of there being no possible evidence to support or deny it.  A.J. Ayer would say such a statement, since it's devoid of factual information, is actually nonsense.
You'll note that neither the atheist or agnostic believes the statement "God exists" to be true. But only one believes it false, the other believes it to be nonsense.

On the other hand, if you define "atheist" to be anyone who does not hold that the statement "God exists." to be true, then both atheists and agnostics are atheists, for whatever their reasons.

See?

So why am I an agnostic (or atheist, if that's your definition)?  Because I can't see any evidence for the existence of a supreme being - and from that gap, I have to ask, "Why believe in anything for which there's no evidence to support it?"

The Universe is complicated and interesting enough without having to believe any set of ideas unsupported by facts.  The Human Mind is intelligent enough to contemplate good and evil, right and wrong and the nature of reality itself without having to depend on anything written down millennia ago.

We're much better than that.

My name is David and I am openly secular.

April 22, 2015

Lynn Cullen Leaves 4802 - And The P-G Leaves Out Some Important Stuff

From today's P-G:
Longtime Pittsburgh talk show host Lynn Cullen confirmed Tuesday she is quitting as a panelist on WQED-TV’s “4802.”

Ms. Cullen echoed her sentiments from a day earlier, when she said on her Pittsburgh City Paper podcast, “I am not again ever going to do that show.” A tense verbal exchange with panelist Heather Heidelbaugh, attorney and Allegheny County councilwoman, was the last straw.
You can watch the last-straw exchange here.

And here's how the P-G characterized it:
The program kicked off with a discussion on recent protests to raise the U.S. minimum wage. Ms. Heidelbaugh, a Republican, said she didn’t believe raising the wage was realistic. Shortly thereafter, Ms. Cullen prefaced remarks saying, “I feel so passionately on this issue that I’m going to try to keep myself in check as I address it.”

Some of the others chuckled, as Ms. Cullen is not known for being soft-spoken. She decried large companies’ failure to pay a higher living wage and said that capitalism is an economic but not “moral” or “ethical” system.
This starts about 4:25 in.  What the P-G gets wrong (or, to be more correct, doesn't address at all) is that Cullen's assertion that capitalism was not "a moral system" was misheard (or perhaps deliberately misinterpreted) by Heidelbaugh  as "capitalism is an immoral system."

Big difference.  It wasn't a simple disagreement.  Heather Heidelbaugh spent most of the time arguing stuff that Lynn Cullen didn't say and Chris Moore seemed to dump blame on both parties equally.

Here's my transcript:
Cullen: I feel so passionately on this issue that I’m going to try to keep myself in check as I address it.

Moore: That would be a first.

Cullen: Ok, everybody wish me luck.  Here we go.

Moore: Good luck.

Cullen: Bruce alluded to it.  We have a business model going here now that benefits the wealthiest corporations in the world.  And that business model is: You hire people do not pay them a wage that allows tehm to keep a roof over their head, to clothe their children, feed their children and generally just survive.  It's not a living wage.  And we, the other little guys all over the country, the tax payers, will subsidize.  We will give them foodstamps.  If you are Walmart, if you are McDonalds and you are employing millions of people who can not make it and the rest is picked up by you, you -

Kraus: Us.

Cullen: - you, me, you, everybody else.  This is, if that's not the essence of corporate welfare, what the heck is?

Moore: Ok.  Katie, Katie, what do you say about this?

Cullen: There's also a moral issue.  I want to, I want to bring up a moral issue.  I really do.

Moore: Alright.

Cullen: I really do.  Capitalism is the triumphant economic system globally.  It is.  But it is an economic system.  It is not an ethical system.  It is not a moral system.

[Gasp off-camera]

Cullen: It -

Heidelbaugh: That's despicable, but go ahead.

Cullen: No -

Heidelbaugh: Capitalism is not an ethical system?

Cullen: You just said that what I just said was despicable?

Heidelbaugh: Yes.

Cullen: Tell me why.

Heidelbaugh: Because Capitalism, more than any other form of government on the globe-

Cullen: It's an economic system.

Heidelbaugh:  - has raised more people out of poverty.

Cullen: It's a - Heather, is it a moral system or an economic system?

Heidelbaugh: Why don't you go down to Cuba and live in Cuba where there's socialism and everybody lives in poverty?

Moore: Heather, Heather, Heather.  Why is it that when someone complains about our system in America -

Heidelbaugh: No, she said capitalism was a dirty word!

Moore: I understand what she said-

Cullen: I did not!

Moore: Excuse, excuse me, excuse me--

Heidelbaugh: You did.

Moore: Excuse me, excuse me, why is it when someone says oh, some criticism about the American system, someone else says, "Why don't you leave?  Get out the country."  Why is that the only answer?

Heidelbaugh: No, what she, no, that's not what I said -

Cullen: Heather, I sto-

Moore: Yes, you did.  You said, "Go to Cuba."

Cullen: - because what I said was -

Heidelbaugh: If she really like socialistic system, she ought to look at Cuba!

Cullen: Did I say socialism?  What did I say? I said it was the triumphant -

Heidelbaugh: You said capitalism was horrible.

Kraus:  It's an economic system.

Cullen:  Excuse me, Heather, Heather.  Stop.  I did not say capitalism was horrible.  Did I?  Did I?  No.  I said Capitalism was an economic system.  That is all I said.  I said it is not in any way an ethical or moral construct or system.

Jones Goldman: Is there an economic system that's moral?

Cullen: That's what I said.  I am saying is that if we agree to throw our lot in with an economic system, of capitalism -

Heidelbaugh: Go head.

Cullen: - then it behooves us to make sure that people are not being run roughshod over those in its employ.

Moore: Alright, let's allow her a chance to respond.

[Cross talk]

Moore: Hold hold hold it, Lynn.

Cullen: And I can not believe that you're looking at me like that.

Moore: Lynn, Lynn, Lynn.

Heidelbaugh: I think what you're saying is so irresponsible.  And if we want to talk about morality I think it is morally incomprehensible because capitalism has, in fact, granted people in this country the opportunity to pull themselves up out of poverty.  You look at every socialistic construct, as you call it, and it is morally bankrupt.  The people are poor because you know what socialism is?  Socialism doesn't understa -

Cullen: You been to Europe lately?

Heidelbaugh: I have been to Europe.

Cullen: The people are poor?

Heidelbaugh: I have been to Europe

Cullen: The people are poor?

Heidelbaugh: They have capitalism there, what are you talking about?

Cullen: What are you talking about?

Moore: Excuse me.  There are some European countries, Sweden and others, that have higher tax rates -

Heidelbaugh: But they're capitalistic.

Moore:  - that have social programs, they have a lot of socialistic programs that support the community and people enjoy that even with higher taxes.

Jones Goldman: And many are imploding.  The National Institute of Health in Great Britain is imploding.
And at that point they more or less changed the subject - but the room continued to be tense for the rest of the half hour.

As you can see, Heather spun Lynn's assertion that capitalism is an economic and not a moral system into "She said capitalism was horrible."  Something Lynn did not say.  Later she accuses Lynn of saying that capitalism is morally bankrupt.  Something else Lynn did not say.

It was painful to watch.  Painful to transcribe as well.

Another interesting event happens about 12:20 minutes in:
Heidelbaugh: When you talk about "our side" I find it offensive, ok?
This is a response this at 11:12:
Cullen: Your side doesn't understand the value of labor.
So Heather finds it offensive for someone to lump all conservatives together with a collective criticism.  She must've forgotten that in the discussion of unions (at about 9:50), this happened:
Heidelbaugh: You [gesturing to both Cullen and Kraus] never want to talk about union and how they feather their own beds.
Looked to me she was saying "your side never wants to talk about..."

That was only about 2 minutes and 30 seconds earlier.

Wanna know what the sad part of the story is?

Lynn's gone from 4802 but (as far as I know) after all this, Heather Heidelbaugh is still there.

April 19, 2015

A Chuck McCullough Update - What's Known So Far

For those happy few not following the trial of former County Council member Charles P. "Chuck" McCullough, let me bring yinz up-to-date, en at.

While I have spent a few hours watching the trial from the back row of the court (and most of it is absolutely fascinating), I fear I lack the necessary journalistic/legal background to adequately and fairly comment on everything I've seen.  Lucky we have some competing newspaper reporters (Paula Reed Ward of the P-G and Bobby Kerlick of the Trib) covering the event as well as a smattering of TV coverage.

So let's see what the local press has had to say.

Day One (Monday, April 13)

The Trib:
After six years, two attorneys, several postponements and thousands of pages of documents, former Allegheny County Councilman Chuck McCullough took a seat at the defense table Monday, ready to fight charges that he stole thousands of dollars from an elderly widow.

Prosecutors charged McCullough, 60, of Upper St. Clair in 2009 with abusing his power of attorney to steal nearly $200,000 from the $14.7 million estate of Shirley Jordan, who died in 2010 at age 93. McCullough, a Republican who served as county solicitor for a year before he was a county councilman from 2007 to 2011, is charged with two dozen counts, including nine counts of felony theft.
The P-G:
When Charles McCullough was serving as co-trustee and power of attorney for an Upper St. Clair widow, he made several requests to PNC Bank on how to spend the woman’s money.

He requested that his sister be hired as Shirley Jordan’s companion at a rate of $60 per hour.

He wanted the bank to release money for Ms. Jordan to buy property from another of his clients.

He asked Ms. Jordan to donate $10,000 to Catholic Charities, which at the time was run by his wife.

And he requested his young son be paid to mow the woman’s yard.

Those instances were just a few laid out by the prosecution Monday during the first day of Mr. McCullough’s nonjury trial before Senior Judge Lester G. Nauhaus in Allegheny County Common Pleas Court.
And:
Mr. McCullough began his work with Ms. Jordan in early 2006 and worked with Thomas Gray, a relationship manager with PNC Bank, to establish a trust for the then-90-year-old woman, whose financial worth was about $14 million. At the time, bank officials had discovered that Ms. Jordan was accumulating several large checks that were not being deposited into her bank account. They then learned that many of her bills, including utilities and taxes, were going unpaid, Mr. Gray testified.

“She thought she was fairly poor,” Mr. Gray said. “She just didn’t think she had a lot of money to live on.”

Mr. McCullough became a trustee for Ms. Jordan, and at one point requested that some of her money be used to buy land from another client of his and to use $500,000 to buy a certificate of deposit, Mr. Gray said.

Neither of those requests were approved.
You can read the original criminal complaint here, by the way.  Since six years passed between the filing of that complaint and the trial I can't be sure exactly the same charges were presented in court.  Here's the list of charges found on the Allegheny County Court of Common Pleas website.

Day Two  

The Trib:
Prosecutors contend McCullough improperly steered the donation to Catholic Charities because his wife, now a Commonwealth Court judge, was running the charity and in the midst of fundraising.

The gift to Catholic Charities was not the lone gift prosecutors say McCullough doled out with Jordan's money. Lisa Carey, district manager for Northwest Savings Bank, testified that McCullough asked that $10,000 checks be sent to the campaign funds of Republican political candidates Sue Caldwell, Jan Rea, Vince Gastgeb and Cheryl Allen, now a Superior Court judge. All of the then-candidates later returned the money.

Witnesses testified that McCullough shifted Jordan's money from PNC Bank to Northwest Bank in 2007.
The P-G:
John Goetz, the former president of the [board of directors for the Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Pittsburgh], testified Tuesday against Charles P. McCullough, a former Allegheny County councilman accused of stealing from Shirley H. Jordan when he served as her power of attorney and co-trustee of her trust fund.
And:
Witnesses on Tuesday included employees at PNC Bank, which initially administered the Jordan trust fund in 2006, as well as an employee at Northwest Savings Bank, where the trust was moved in early 2007 at Mr. McCullough’s request.

It was Northwest that approved and issued four $10,000 checks to political candidates that brought Mr. McCullough’s actions out in the public.

Mr. Goetz testified that his concerns began after reading a newspaper story on April 13, 2007.
That would be this story, by the P-G's Dennis Roddy.  We'll get to Roddy a bit later, just you wait.

Back to the P-G:
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette report revealed that Ms. Jordan was upset by a number of political contributions that had been made in her name to Republican candidates — county council members Vince Gastgeb, Jan Rea and Susan Caldwell, and Cheryl Allen, then a candidate for Superior Court. In the story, she said the donations were orchestrated by Mr. McCullough.

“The donor was saying it was against her will to give such a donation,” Mr. Goetz testified.
The Trib :
Chuck McCullough's political adversaries, including the man who's now Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto's chief of staff, became suspicious in 2007 when he arranged for an elderly widow unknown in political circles to donate $40,000 to Republican politicians.

Kevin Acklin, Peduto's top aide, took the witness stand Wednesday on the third day of the criminal trial of McCullough, 60, of Upper St. Clair on charges he abused his power of attorney to steal nearly $200,000 from the $14.7 million estate of Shirley Jordan, who died in 2010 at age 93. Common Pleas Judge Lester Nauhaus is hearing the non-jury trial.

McCullough and Acklin, a Republican-turned-Democrat, were competing for an at-large county council seat in 2007. Acklin testified that some of his supporters, including then-Councilman Vince Gastgeb, withdrew their support once McCullough handed out the checks.

While in Upper St. Clair gathering signatures, Acklin visited Jordan's house, he said.

“The condition of her house looked like no one lived there. There was a window without drapes, a gutter was dislodged, there were water-logged phone books covered in snow outside and mail,” Acklin testified. “I called Vince Gastgeb and said, ‘Who is Shirley Jordan?' Gastgeb said Jordan was a client of McCullough's and he had served as her estate (lawyer).”

Acklin said that raised a red flag.
The P-G:
The condition of the house raised Mr. Acklin’s suspicions, and he began an investigation to see who Ms. Jordan was. He learned that she was represented by Mr. McCullough, and that she was living in a nursing facility. Mr. Acklin also went to the county’s department of court records to check her files.

A day or two later, Mr. Acklin, now chief of staff to Mayor Bill Peduto, received a call from Mr. McCullough.

“ ‘What were you doing snooping around court records, the Recorder of Deeds?’ ” Mr. Acklin said the former county councilman asked him.

“I said, ‘You know exactly what I was doing,’ ” Mr. Acklin recounted during the non-jury trial. “He seemed agitated.” Then, Mr. Acklin testified, Mr. McCullough said, “ ‘You might want to ask around town who you’re [messing] with.’ ”
Uh-oh.

Day Three and Four

The Trib:
Elderly widow Shirley Jordan “gasped” and seemed startled when told that her attorney had doled out a $10,000 political donation from her trust fund, a former reporter testified Thursday.

Former Post-Gazette reporter Dennis Roddy testified Thursday about his 2007 interview with Jordan during the fourth day of the trial of former Allegheny County Councilman Chuck McCullough. Prosecutors accused McCullough, 60, of Upper St. Clair, in 2009 of bilking $200,000 from the $14.7 million trust of Jordan, who died in 2010 at the age of 93.
And then:
Common Pleas Judge Lester Nauhaus halted the trial Thursday in the middle of Roddy's testimony, after defense attorney Jon Pushinsky objected on hearsay grounds. Pushinsky contends the testimony should not be considered because it's hearsay and he can't cross-examine Jordan.

Nauhaus ordered Pushinsky and Assistant District Attorney John Fitzgerald to write legal briefs on the matter.
The Trib:
Nauhaus overruled defense objections about Roddy's testimony and said he would consider parts of it, including that Jordan told Roddy that McCullough was a “cheap politician.”

Roddy continued his testimony from Thursday and said he specifically asked Jordan if perhaps she forgot about the donations, including a $10,000 donation to then-Superior Court candidate Cheryl Allen.

“She said, ‘I would never give $10,000 to politics,' ” Roddy testified.
Then there was this:
A few days after Roddy interviewed Jordan, McCullough called Upper St. Clair police to complain about a reporter, who he said did not identify himself and was harassing and badgering his client.

Roddy said he signed into the facility and identified himself as a reporter to Jordan. No charges were filed.
That last part's one of the charges filed against McCullough, by the way.  In the original complaint we read:
The actor knowingly gave false information, namely on April 18, 2007 DEFENDANT KNOWINGLY AND FALSELY REPORTED TO UPPER ST. CLAIR POLICE DEPARTMENT THAT DENNIS RODD HARASSED SHIRLEY H. JORDAN WHEN NO SUCH INCIDENT OF HARASSMENT BY DENNIS RODDY HAD OCCURRED to a law enforcement office with intent to implicate another, in violation of 18Pa C.S. 4906(a) [Capitalization in original]
  Then finally, there's this from the P-G:
Two days after an article appeared in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in 2007 outlining an elderly widow’s denunciation of tens of thousands of dollars in political contributions made in her name, the man who is accused of facilitating the donations tried to convince her otherwise.
The Trib:
“He said there was some information in the newspaper that was not true and that he was going to read it to her,” testified Alice Greenway, a care worker who took care of Jordan at an assisted living home. “He asked her to sign something to say, ‘This is what's true and the newspaper account was not.' She refused.”

McCullough was telling Jordan as they went through the newspaper story, “I didn't do that. I wouldn't do that,” Greenway testified.

McCullough then wrote up a second document for Greenway to sign, saying she saw Jordan agree with McCullough.

“I wouldn't do it,” Greenway testified.
That's what's been reported in the local newspapers, so far.

Reminder: The trial still going on and Charles P. McCullough still has the presumption of innocence as guaranteed by law.  He's still innocent until proven guilty and it's still the prosecution's responsibility to prove its case.

April 14, 2015

More On Joey Farah And His Birthers' Hypocrisy (Marco Rubio Edition)

Hey, remember this?

That's the blogpost where I assert that if the birthers' invalid criteria for Barack Obama's presidential ineligibility were valid, then they'd also have to question the presidential eligibility of the Republican (and Canadian-born) Senator Cruz as well.

For the record I was not questioning Cruz eligibility, just pointing out the birthers' hypocrisy for not protesting the Republican as much as the Democrat.

Well, now that Senator Marco Rubio has announced his presidential campaign, he has exactly the same problem with the birthers as neither of his parents were US citizens when he was born.  And the birthers will show exactly the same hypocrisy if they don't protest the Miami-born Senator's eligibility as loudly as they've protested the Hawaii-born Obama for half a decade.

But let's go to birther central for a ruling:
Moments after Mitt Romney’s landslide victory in the Florida Republican Primary, WND Editor Joseph Farah declared on national television that Florida U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio would not be a good selection for vice president because he’s not a natural-born citizen of the U.S., and therefore is not legally qualified to hold the office.

“Rubio’s not eligible … because he’s not a natural-born citizen,” Farah told Sean Hannity on the Fox News Channel.
For the record, since Rubio was born in Miami he's eligible to be president.

But we're not talking about facts here, we're talking what the birthers have said.  And according to them since Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal is constitutionally no eligibile:
A consensus on the correct definition of “natural-born citizen” has eluded lawyers and scholars for more than 200 years. The Constitution’s silence, the absence of definitive Supreme Court rulings and a wide array of opinions through the centuries have only further confused the question of what “natural born” actually means.

Retired Navy Cmdr. Charles Kerchner who has filed a legal challenge against Obama’s eligibility, is among those critical of Jindal’s legal qualification.

“Governor Jindal is a ‘citizen of the United States’ since he was born in the USA, but he is not a ‘natural-born citizen of the United States’ since his parents were not citizens of the United States when Governor Jindal was born,” said Kerchner, who runs the ProtectOurLiberty website.

“As a citizen of the United States, he is, of course, eligible to a governor, senator, or U.S. representative, but he is not constitutionally eligible to be the president and commander in chief of our military (per Article II, Section 1) nor is he eligible to be the vice president (per the 12th Amendment) since he is not a “natural-born citizen of the United States.” [Links and emphasis in original]
 They have to feel the same way about Rubio.

Where are the Cruz and/or Rubio birther protests?  Will Fox "News" be covering them, too?

April 13, 2015

Yes, It's Happenning!! (More On Chuck McCullough's Trial)

The trial of Charles P. "Chuck" McCullough, that is.  Needless to say, it's only taken 2,245 days since he was arrested.

This morning, I made sure I was there to witness it - if only to make reassure myself in the days, weeks, months and years ahead it really happened.

If you're looking for details on the case, both major newspapers already have stuff posted:

Paula Reed Ward of the P-G:
Six years after criminal charges were filed against former Allegheny County councilman Charles P. McCullough, his trial began this morning in Common Pleas Court.

Mr. McCullough, an attorney from Upper St. Clair, faces nearly two dozen counts, including theft, misapplication of funds, making false statements and conspiracy in a nonjury trial before Senior Judge Lester G. Nauhaus.
Yea, and it took Judge Nauhaus nearly 20 minutes to read them all to McCullough during the arraignment.

Bobby Kerlik of the Trib:
The long-awaited trial of former Allegheny County Councilman Chuck McCullough started Monday, nearly six years after prosecutors filed charges against him.

Prosecutors accused McCullough, 60, of Upper St. Clair, of abusing his power of attorney to steal nearly $200,000 from the $14.7 million estate of Shirley Jordan, an elderly woman who died in 2010 at age 93. McCullough, a Republican who served as county solicitor for a year before he was a county councilman from 2007 to 2011, is charged with two dozen counts, including nine counts of felony theft.
Look for TV coverage by Alan Jennings of WPXI and Harold Hayes of KDKA as well.  They were sitting about 6 feet away from me this morning.

 At last, I can finally stop the "how many days HAS it been since Chuck was arrested?" blog posts!


April 12, 2015

And so it begins...

First, with an email to close supporters:


Then, with a video on her Facebook page:



And, new logo and revamped web site:













And, finally, with the tweet everyone was waiting for:

Jack Kelly Sunday

In today's Post-Gazette,  it takes Jack Kelly all of his 22 paragraphs to play the Nazi card.

In denouncing the so-called "intolerance of the left" he ends his column by referring to those on the "secular left" who want members of the LGBT community to be free of faith-based intolerance as "dime store Nazis."

Yes, he did. 

But let's start with his theology as he spends much of his time with his spectacled nose in the Bible - justifying his own cultural myopia.

Jack writes:
I don’t think a person’s sexual preference has anything to do with character — or is any of my business.

I applaud gays in long-term, monogamous relationships. They ought to have the same legal protections as if they were married. But I’m against gay marriage, because God said marriage is between a man and a woman, and I take Him at His word.
While I am not sure exactly where in the Bible Jack finds God's definition of marriage, I am guessing it wouldn't that far from this:
4 And he answered and said, Have ye not read, that he who made them from the beginning made them male and female,

5 and said, For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and the two shall become one flesh?

6 So that they are no more two, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. (Matthew 19:4-6)
The "he" in those passages would be Jesus, of course.  And while it's a definition of joining just one man to just one woman into just one flesh it's also, in a way, an anti-divorce pronouncement (let no man put asunder what god has joined and all that), isn't it ?

Let me say that I applaud Jack for the first three of his sentences above - it's a good thing he's not among teh crazie intolerants of the right.  Like this guy in California:
A California lawyer has devised an initiative titled “The Sodomite Suppression Act.” Yes, this isn’t something from The Onion or National Report, this is a very real ballot initiative designed by someone who is both nutty and probably thinks more about making sexy time more than members of the gay community do.
The telling part is found in the text of the initiative:
SODOMITE SUPPRESSION ACT

Penal Code section 39

a) The abominable crime against nature known as buggery, called also sodomy, is a monstrous evil that Almighty God, giver of freedom and liberty, commands us to suppress on pain of our utter destruction even as he overthrew Sodom and Gomorrha.

b) Seeing that it is better that offenders should die rather than that all of us should be killed by God's just wrath against us for the folly of tolerating wickedness in our midst, the people of California wisely command, in the fear of God, that any person who willingly touches another person of the same gender for purposes of sexual gratification be put to death by bullets to the head or by any other convenient method.
I'm just not so sure about Jack's last sentence.  I mean that California lawyer presumably takes God at His word, too, right?  And Leviticus does say this, right?
And if a man lie with mankind, as with womankind, both of them have committed abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.
So now I'm confused.  Jack says he takes God at His word and Jack's God says that men who have sex with men should be put to death.  But Jack says he applauds "gays in long-term monogamous relationships."  So when does Jack applaud?  Is that before or after they're put to death?  Does Jack Kelly take God at His word or not?

While we're talking about it, here's a question for you, Jack.  What are some of the other acts in the Bible that are punishable by death?

Exodus 31:15
Six days shall work be done, but on the seventh day is a sabbath of solemn rest, holy to Jehovah: whosoever doeth any work on the sabbath day, he shall surely be put to death.
Leviticus 24:16
And he that blasphemeth the name of Jehovah, he shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the sojourner, as the home-born, when he blasphemeth the name of Jehovah, shall be put to death.
I'm writing this on a Sunday and while I'm not getting paid for it it's certainly work.  Oh, and I admit it, I'm also mocking The Word of God.

Shouldn't I be put to death as well?  I mean, if you take God at His word, you kinda hafta answer with a hearty (and self-righteous) "Hell, yea!" don't you?

We can go on like this for hours but it does raise a bigger question: what does any of  this have to do with public policy or the law?  Should centuries-old ignorance have any place in how a just society orders itself?

If we take The Word - all of it, not just the nice parts - as a serious plan for how we treat each other, then misery must surely follow (Death to the adulterers! Death to those who blaspheme!)

Each of us is certainly free to believe what we want to believe, but in a free society all citizens are to be treated fairly and equally and any restrictions on that fairness and equality (even if they're faith-based) simply have no place in a just society.