We are the 99%

May 31, 2005

And We Have A Winner! Deep Throat Is...



W. Mark Felt


ABC interrupted Preznit Chimpy McFlightsuit's press conference to announce that W. Mark Felt (who held the second most senior position at the FBI) has admitted that he is "Deep Throat." The story will be in an upcoming issue of Vanity Fair.

Felt said he was "only doing his duty" and did not seek to bring down Nixon over the cover-up of a break-in at Democratic Party offices in the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C.

Carl Bernstein, who with Bob Woodward broke the story as Washington Post reporters, issued a statement neither denying nor confirming Felt's claim. Bernstein stated he and Woodward would be keeping their pledge to reveal the source only once that person dies.

Full story HERE.

Only one question now: Who will be the Bush Administration's Deep Throat?

Any takers? Or is the Republic too far gone for any amount of leakers to help us now?

May 29, 2005

Bush is a Big Fucking Liar

Sign This Letter!

Rep. Conyers: "I believe the American people deserve answers about [the Downing Street Memo] and should demand directly that the President tell the truth about the memo."

Rep. John Conyers is trying to get 100,000 signatures on the following letter:

The Honorable George W. Bush
President of the United States of America
1600 Pennsylvania Ave, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20005

Dear Mr. President:

We the undersigned write to you because of our concern regarding recent disclosures of a Downing Street Memo in the London Times, comprising the minutes of a meeting of Prime Minister Tony Blair and his top advisers. These minutes indicate that the United States and Great Britain agreed, by the summer of 2002, to attack Iraq, well before the invasion and before you even sought Congressional authority to engage in military action, and that U.S. officials were deliberately manipulating intelligence to justify the war.

Among other things, the British government document quotes a high-ranking British official as stating that by July, 2002, Bush had made up his mind to take military action. Yet, a month later, you stated you were still willing to "look at all options" and that there was "no timetable" for war. Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, flatly stated that "[t]he president has made no such determination that we should go to war with Iraq."

In addition, the origins of the false contention that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction remains a serious and lingering question about the lead up to the war. There is an ongoing debate about whether this was the result of a "massive intelligence failure," in other words a mistake, or the result of intentional and deliberate manipulation of intelligence to justify the case for war. The memo appears to resolve that debate as well, quoting the head of British intelligence as indicating that in the United States "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

As a result of these concerns, we would ask that you respond to the following questions:
1)Do you or anyone in your administration dispute the accuracy of the leaked document?
2) Were arrangements being made, including the recruitment of allies, before you sought Congressional authorization to go to war? Did you or anyone in your Administration obtain Britain's commitment to invade prior to this time?
3) Was there an effort to create an ultimatum about weapons inspectors in order to help with the justification for the war as the minutes indicate?
4) At what point in time did you and Prime Minister Blair first agree it was necessary to invade Iraq?
5) Was there a coordinated effort with the U.S. intelligence community and/or British officials to "fix" the intelligence and facts around the policy as the leaked document states?

These are the same questions 89 Members of Congress, led by Rep. John Conyers, Jr., submitted to you on May 5, 2005. As citizens and taxpayers, we believe it is imperative that our people be able to trust our government and our commander in chief when you make representations and statements regarding our nation engaging in war. As a result, we would ask that you publicly respond to these questions as promptly as possible.

Thank you for your prompt attention to this matter.

Sincerely,

Please sign the letter HERE.

If you're still unfamiliar with the "Downing Street Memo" which is actually MINUTES transcribed during the British Prime Minister's meeting on July 23, 2002 please go to www.downingstreetmemo.com

May 27, 2005

Of BoBos, Bubbas and Custard

I don't really have an excuse for not posting, though I have been involved in a discussion of the recent primary election HERE and HERE and mentioned HERE. The Angry Drunk Bureaucrat (TADB) contends that Bill Peduto's support derives mainly from the BoBos (or the Custard Class) and the "Revolutionaries" while Lamb has more "New-Old Guard" support and, thus, Lamb would have won in a two-way between himself and Peduto. Others have repeatedly pointed out that Peduto came in second while Lamb came in third and that Peduto won more districts than Lamb with less money.

Since TADB's main argument seems to be that Peduto is a "Leftist" and his appeal is "elitist" and being that I have yet to see any hard evidence given for these claims, I am going to venture an opinion of my own as to Bill Peduto's future chances for becoming mayor of Pittsburgh that is based PURELY ON ANECDOTAL EVIDENCE AND OPINION too. [snark]

Subject of said anecdote is an 89 year-old near life-long resident of the South Side and a solid Democrat who was active in local politics in her day. A first generation Russian-American, non college-educated woman who's deceased husband was a foreman at US Steel. (Have I sufficiently described her as a NON BoBo, NON elitist who knows better to ask what flavor of custard is in her donut at the local bakery/Iggle?)

Let's call this woman "Bubba." As may be deduced from the above description, Bubba voted for Bob "He's been to my house" O'Connor. Let's take this a step further and note that Bubba has a granddaughter who was solidly for Peduto. While said granddaughter won commitments from four out of five family members to vote for Peduto, any appeal to Bubba was met with, "You, know better. O'Connor's going to win," and "I like him, I know him, he's been to my house."

Flash-forward to the day after the election and the following conversation:

Bubba: Did you see O'Connor's acceptance speech?

Granddaughter: Uh-uh.

Bubba: I was so disappointed. He sounded stupid. He kept saying...he said three...times, "We're going to turn this city around." He never says how.

Granddaughter: Uh-uh. Did you see Peduto's speech last night?

Bubba: You know I voted for O'Connor, but Peduto's speech was brilliant. He's a brilliant man. He was so eloquent. Mark my words, in four years, he'll be mayor. They were saying such nice things about him on the TV too. In four years from now -- if I'm still here -- I would vote for him.
What does this all mean? It's anecdotal, so, maybe nothing. But if TADB can contend that Bill can only appeal to BoBos than I can contend that when your average Pittsburgher actually gets a chance to really listen to Bill, they like what they hear. And, Michael Lamb? Well, he never came up in the conversation -- it was about the future of this city.

May 24, 2005

"Do not be fooled, the Republican Senate RAPED you tonight."

Well, that seems to be the Freeper response to last night's compromise over the Senate Nuclear Option/Filibuster debate. The fact that the Freepers are apoplectic over the compromise makes me want to be happy with it. A Daily Kos diary has a nice roundup of their response to it HERE.

Certainly Sen. Frist and Focus on the Family Action Chairman Dr. James C. Dobson seem to be taking it hard, which can't be bad (interesting analysis of Dobson's comments HERE).

But, as Josh Marshall points out, aren't we just delaying the inevitable showdown?

Marshall does claim it as a "draw" though which is sorta a "win" for a minority party.

[sigh]

I wish I could feel better about this...

The Passion of Rick Santorum

The only thing missing from the New York Times Magazine cover piece on Sen. Rick Santorum on Sunday was the halo and the crucifix so, we've supplied those:



They paint him as some sort of pugilist for Christ; full of conviction and a True Believer. But, the real fun comes in as they buy the line -- hook, line, and sinker -- that Lil Ricky's other real passion is as an "antipoverty crusader." The word "poverty" is mentioned five times in the article. The word "antipoverty" is mentioned three times and the word "poor" is mentioned four times.

Most of the evidence that they give for Lil Ricky as Crusader for the Downtrodden is his efforts to get more government bucks into the hands of faith-based charities. Seeing as how Santorum needs to rely heavily on the Catholic, Evangelical and anti-choice vote as his base, could there not be an ulterior motive for his concern in this area? The NY Times doesn't see fit to ask that question. Perhaps this is a matter of "faith" with them.

At least they had the decency to mention the following:

"Earlier this year, Santorum voted against a Democratic amendment to a bankruptcy bill to raise the federal minimum wage to $7.25, which would seemingly be one of the more efficient ways to get money to poor people. He offered his own amendment to hike it to $6.25 as part of a package that included tax cuts for small businesses and exemptions on overtime pay for some workers currently eligible for it."
The NY Times piece does not mention Santorum's reaction -- or should that be lack of action -- in the matter of the flood-ravaged business districts in Carnegie and Oakdale, PA in September of last year.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

"But Santorum said he could not deliver the one thing owners say they need most: direct federal grants to help with the rebuilding process."

[snip]

"Understand that this is going to have to be a mostly local effort with the federal government helping where it can," Santorum said. "The federal government doesn't have money for this type of relief."
Funny how the person who holds his party's third-ranking leadership position could not exert any pull in getting aid to his own constituents. Perhaps if the floods had been more "Biblical" in proportion and if there were some way to funnel some cash back to the Church, he may have tried harder.

May 21, 2005

Loyal Puppy that he is, Santorum Speaks

Let's start with Senator Santorum's most recent offering and work backwards. In the May 18 edition of the Post-Gazette, Rick Santorum attempted to set the record straight (I love it when homophobes use that metaphor, don't you?) We shall see that he's not completely straight with the truth himself.

The Senator begins:
A May 11 column used erroneous information from a liberal Web site, http://www.rawstory.com/, rather than conducting a simple fact check to determine my voting record on judicial nominations ("Political Animals Sniff the Winds of Change"). Though a correction has been made, the record must be completely set straight.
He never mentions who wrote the May 11 article, does he? For the record, it was Sally Kalson. He does mention that "a correction has been made" but he doesn't say what the correction is for. Is the correction for the entire Kalson column or just something in the Kalson column? I'd imagine Senator Santorum is hoping we would assume it was one or the other.

However, the correction is for this article by Maeve Reston. On May 2, Reston, among other things, wrote that:
Santorum said he objected to the nomination of John H. Bingler Jr. to U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania because he did not believe Bingler was qualified for the post.
This is what needed to be corrected. By the way, it sparked on May 8, an angry letter to the editor of its own. From former US District Court Judge Donald Ziegler. Judge Ziegler wrote:
The statement of Sen. Rick Santorum that John H. Bingler Jr. was not qualified to serve as a judge of the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania cannot go unchallenged ("Democrats Say Santorum Blocked Judges, Too," May 2). Mr. Bingler was one of the ablest and most competent trial lawyers to ever appear in the District Court, and he was respected by the bench and bar. He also served as president of the Allegheny County Bar Association, was a member of the Academy of Trial Lawyers and was rated exceptionally well qualified in all ratings by the bar association.
But more from the judge later. Here is the correction (although the P-G calls it "a clarification") from May 14:
Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., said this week he opposed former President Bill Clinton's nomination of John H. Bingler Jr. for a federal judgeship in Western Pennsylvania because Bingler had not been on a short list of recommended candidates drawn up by an advisory committee that he and Sen. Arlen Specter, R-Pa., had appointed. Santorum clarified that when he said he found Bingler "unqualified" for the position for a story published May 2, 2005 he meant only that the committee had not put forward Bingler's name. "I've never sat down and met with John Bingler. I never looked at his resume," Santorum said. "If I say [nominees] weren't qualified, I'm basically saying they weren't qualified by the commission." Bingler was first nominated in 1995 and received the American Bar Association highest rating of "well-qualified."
So I guess what he's saying is that it was the committee that he and Senator Arlen Specter appointed that found Bingler "unqualified." No reason was given as to why he wasn't on the short list (was he on any "long" lists? was he on any lists at all?).

But take a look again at the dates: Santorum's initial remark about Bingler being unqualified is dated May 2. The letter from Judge Ziegler is dated May 8. Sally Kalson's column appeared on May 11 and the correction (clarification??) from May 14. Finally Senator Santorum's letter appears on May 18th.

It also should be noted that the correction involves only one of the three people mentioned in Reston's May 2 article. The other two are Lynette Norton and Robert Freedberg. Indeed, our friend Judge Zeigler had this to say about Lynette Norton:
The same can be said of Lynette Norton. Ms. Norton was an expert in insurance law, an author of textbooks on the subject, a mediator, lecturer and member of the Academy of Trial Lawyers. She practiced for years in federal court and was relied on by the court for many complex and difficult assignments. She too received exceptionally well qualified ratings by the bar association.
While the correction published by the P-G is silent on Norton and Freedberg, Reston wrote something that neither Santorum or the P-G has corrected:
Santorum said he held up the confirmation of Lynette Norton, who also was nominated for a seat on that court, because Clinton White House officials did not follow through on their standing agreement with him and Specter that for every three Democrats, the senators would get to choose a Republican.
Interesting. So this "exeptionally well qualified" nomination was stopped because she wasn't a Republican. Interesting. And with all the current discussion about how it's the President who makes the nominations and the Senate is limited to giving only "Advice and Consent" what should we think about this "standing agreement" that Santorum and Specter had with the Clinton Administration?

But beyond all this. Take a look again at Santorum's letter. He doesn't mention Bingler, Norton or Freedberg, does he? After the expected bluster/Republican talking points about the Senate Filibuster, he "clarifies" the situation about two other nominees Kalson said he blocked. Kalson wrote:
In addition, he voted to filibuster two Clinton executive nominees, David Satcher and Henry Foster (twice); voted to block another judicial nominee, Richard Paez; and then, after the GOP filibuster was broken, voted to indefinitely postpone a vote on Paez.
So let's see what Santorum offers as a clarification. He wrote:
I was opposed to Richard Paez, who had a record as a judge that I believed was deplorable. However, despite my opposition, I did not "block" him as a nominee. I voted in favor of ending debate on the nomination of Paez, and in favor of the motion to postpone the Paez nomination. In the end I voted against Paez's nomination, although he was confirmed by a vote of 59-39.
But what he doesn't say is that Richard Paez was waiting for a vote for years. And (and this is the biggest deception of all here) while Senator Santorum wrote that he voted in favor of the motion to postpone the nomination what he doesn't respond to was something Kalson wrote - that it was a vote to postpone the vote indefinitely. Go back and check the roll. It says:
Question: On the Motion to Postpone (To indefinitely postpone the nomination of Richard A. Paez) [emphasis added]
Question: how is that not an attempt to "block" the nomination? Richard Paez was nominated in 1996 and in March of 2000, Rick Santorum voted in favor of postponing the vote forever.

Senator Santorum wrote this in his letter:
All Republicans are asking of Democrats now is to let us vote. If a senator opposes a nominee, that senator should vote no when the nominee comes to a vote.
But when it came to Richard Paez, he voted to postpone the vote indefinitely, rather than have it, didn't he?

A brief history on the Paez nomination. Now remember, the current argument is that all Presidential nominees should get an up or down vote. Here's what they did to Richard Paez. YOu can find all this out by going to this site and typing the word "paez" in the search box.

His nomination was initially recieved by the Judiciary Committee on January 25, 1996 with hearings held on July 31 of that year. On the following October 4, the nomination was returned to the President under the provisions of Senate Rules XXXI, paragraph 6 (and we'll get to that rule in a little bit).

The nomination was then resubmitted the following January 27, only to be sent back to the President for the same reason (Rule XXXI, paragraph 6) on October 21, 1998.

What is Rule XXXI, paragraph 6? Here it is:
Nominations neither confirmed nor rejected during the session at which they are made shall not be acted upon at any succeeding session without being again made to the Senate by the President; and if the Senate shall adjourn or take a recess for more than thirty days, all nominations pending and not finally acted upon at the time of taking such adjournment or recess shall be returned by the Secretary to the President, and shall not again be considered unless they shall again be made to the Senate by the President.
The important text is put in bold letters. Turns out that in 1997, the Senate ended its business on October 3, and went home for a recess. In 1998 business ended on October 21. So the Judiciary, by using Senate Rule XXXI halted the nomination of Richard Paez not once, but twice, before it made it to the Senate floor.

After a re-renomination, Paez finally made it out of committee on July 29, 1999. However his nomination had to wait until March 2000 for a debate and a vote in the Senate. That's when Rick "I Didn't 'Block' The Nomination" Santorum voted to postpone the nomination.

But the deception is even deeper. Take a close-closer-closest look at what Santorum wrote:
However, despite my opposition, I did not "block" him as a nominee.
It looks like he was saying, "Yes, I opposed the nomination, but I didn't do anything to "block" the nomination." But he said nothing of the sort. If the Senator were 100% honest, he would have written:
I tried, but failed, to use the rules of the Senate to stop this nomination.
See the difference? But we'd only hear that from the pious lips of Rick Santorum, if he were 100% honest.

Lil Ricky Santorum's Nazi Fetish

NAZIS Here, NAZIS There, NAZIS, NAZIS Everywhere!

Aside from contemplating hot "Man On Dog Action" PA's Jr. Senator, Rick Santorum, also seems to have Nazis on the brain. As Tim from the Chuck Pennacchio campaign demonstrates, Rick "I spy with my little eye...Nazis" Santorum sees Nazi comparisons EVERYWHERE. The Democrats are just like Nazis...the New York Times are Nazi lovers...who's next?

Santorum Nazi Comparison Is a Pattern by Tim :: Posted on Friday, May 20, 2005.

Yesterday's embarrassment wasn't the first time. Here he is comparing the New York Times to the French Revolutionaries, Communists, and Baathists, and yes, the Nazis.

VIDEO HERE

May 20, 2005

The Bottom Line on Social Insecurity

From Atrios:

Brad Speak, You Listen

Three simple points on the increasingly irrelevant Social Security debate which our great and mighty and ethical press corps needs to understand before they should write about it:

It is a clown show, an episode of stupidity of a jaw-dropping magnitude:

1. The administration's Social Security gurus shove Bush out there with talking points saying that we need to act now to pass the Bush plan, because starting in 2017 Social Security will start taking resources away from the rest of the government and that's a very bad thing--and then they roll out a plan in which Social Security starts taking resources away from the rest of the government in 2011.

2. The administration's Social Security gurus shove Bush out there with talking points saying that passing the Bush plan is essential because if we don't the Social Security trust fund balance will hit zero in 2041, and big benefit cuts will then be necessary--and then they roll out a plan in which the Social Security trust fund balance hits zero in 2030.

3. The administration's Social Security gurus shove Bush out there with talking points about the importance of restoring actuarial balance to Social Security--and then they roll out a plan which closes less than a third of the 75-year funding gap (and refuse to specify the plan in sufficient detail to allow anyone to do a longer-run analysis).

May 19, 2005

Santorum and Hitler and Hypocrisy

As the Chuck Pennacchio campaign is only too happy to remind us all:

Just two months ago, Rick Santorum said Senator Robert Byrd “lessen[ed] the credibility of the senator and the decorum of the Senate,” when he obliquely referred to Hitler in a March 1 speech. [Charleston Journal 3/11/2005]

Cliche ALERT: Santorum uses Hitler to demonize Democrats!

This afternoon, Rick Santorum, Junior Senator from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania said this during the debate:
Remarkable. Remarkable hubris. I mean, imagine, the rule has been in place for 214 years that this is the way we confirm judges. Broken by the other side two years ago, and the audacity of some members to stand up and say, "How dare you break this rule?"

It's the equivalent of Adolf Hitler in 1942 saying, "I'm in Paris. How dare you invade me. How dare you bomb my city? It's mine."

Un-fucking-believable. See for yourself. Senator Santorum in all his glory.

=====

UPDATE: I changed the link - try it out if you had problems with the old one.

Free Falling Republicans

1. Latest NBC/WSJ poll reveals "angry electorate"

- 52% of the country believes that the country is headed in the wrong direction, compared to 35 who think it's great.

- Just 33 percent of the respondents approve of Congress' job (down 6 points since a poll in April and 8 points since January).

- By 47 percent to 40 percent the public says it would prefer Democrats controlling Congress after the 2006 elections.

-Just 34 percent say the Senate should generally confirm the president's judicial picks as long as they are honest and competent, while 56 percent argue that the Senate should make its own decision about the fitness of each nominee to serve.

- Just 20% of those polled say the economy has gotten better over the past 12 months, an 11% decline since January.

- 51% believe that removing Saddam Hussein from power was not worth the cost and casualties of that war.

- Only 36% support Bush's plan to allow workers to invest their Social Security contributions in the stock market.


2. Bush's approval rating at 43% according to Pew Research

- A survey by Pew Research taken from May 11 to May 15 put Mr. Bush's overall approval rating at 43 per cent.

- Republican leadership in congress at approval rating at 35 per cent.


3. Even FOX News Ratings in Free Fall according to TV Newser

- Ratings for the cable news channel have been plummeting since before the November election.

- According to TV Newser, the number of people watching Fox during prime time in the 25 to 54 age bracket dropped in April for the sixth straight month.

- Totals for Fox's primetime audience in the 25 to 54 age bracket: Oct. 04: 1,074,000; Nov. 04: 891,000; Dec. 04: 568,000; Jan. 05: 564,000; Feb. 05: 520,000; March 05: 498,000; April 05: 445,000. That amounts to a decline of 58 percent, with no sign of leveling off.

- Other cable stations' ratings were also down since the election, but CNN's, for example, appeared to have stabilized last month while Fox's continued to drop.

May 18, 2005

Guaranteed True Story!

Date: 5/18/05, morning
Place: Squirrel Hill
All dialogue guaranteed verbatim:

So, Pittsburgh mayoral Democratic primary winner (and shoe-in for November) Bob O'Connor walks into Starbucks to get some caffeine. He looks around and greets a random patron (as politicians are wont to do).

O'Connor: "Hi. How are you doing?"

Random Patron: "Terrible! You won and now we're all in trouble!"

[Snickers and laughter from the other patrons.]

O'Connor leaves with tail between his legs.

May 17, 2005

The Tribune Review

We made it! Take a look. So now anyone who sifts through the Trib's webpage devoted Pittsburgh's blogs now has the opportunity to read what you're reading right now!

And so let me take the opportunity to deconstruct one of today's editorials. Here's the set-up:

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid is using the politics of personal destruction to redefine McCarthyism.

Mr. Reid, a Nevada Democrat, announced on the Senate floor Thursday that he continues to oppose judicial nominee Henry Saad because of "a problem" in the highly confidential FBI report regarding the Michigan judge.

And the kicker:

Standing Rule of the Senate 29, Section 5, states that a senator risks expulsion for disclosing the secret, confidential business or proceedings of the Senate.

And a "Memorandum of Understanding" covering FBI background checks states only Judiciary Committee members and the nominee's home-state senators are allowed access to it.

Reid is neither.

And the pay-off:
Now that Reid has let Saad twist slowly, slowly in the wind, the Senate should act swiftly to enforce its own rules in a bipartisan move to expel him.
And finally it ends with the nod to the Right's own McCarthite past:

Until this moment, Sen. Reid, America never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. You have done enough.

Have you no sense of decency?

I have been waiting for this from the Trib for sometime. Since the 13th, at least, where the story was "broken" by Charles Hurt of the Washington Moonie Times.

The Trib says that Reid should be expelled for "disclosing" some secret or confidential Senate business. With many thanks to kos, I'd like to point out that the file that the Trib feels is so "highly confidential" seems to have been mentioned more than a year ago in the Detroit Free Press.

Did Senator Reid disclose the contents of that file? No. Was the existence of the file already known? Yes.

So tell me again, why should Senator Reid be expelled?

=====

An Update: After digging around the great work of others, I found this. It's also from the Washington Moonie Times. It's also from Charles Hurt. Like the piece in the Detroit Free Press, it's also from about a year ago. Here's an interesting paragraph:
From the moment Mr. Hatch began the meeting, he struggled to get the quorum required to vote on a nominee. As soon as a quorum gathered, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy, Vermont Democrat, requested a private meeting to discuss accusations stemming from Judge Saad's FBI background check.
Please note the last sentence. Looks like it was Charles Hurt himself who established the existence of Judge Saad's FBI file.

Here I am, one guy sitting in the library and over there there's the whole dang Tribune-Review. And who gets the story right?

May 16, 2005

This Scares the Crap Out of Me

No doubt, you've all seen the ubiquitous fish symbol for Christianity that's often displayed on cars and lapels. Perhaps you own one.

Now, we have the Bush Fish:


I thought that this HAD to be a parody when I came across the link at Exit Stage Left, but sadly, it seems to be the real thing.

The symbol's creator claims that it shows, "...worship to the Lord, respect for the President, and hope for all."

Can anyone out there argue that this symbol is somehow not blasphemous? Is this an attempt to create a whole new religion?

Personally, it reminds me of a phrase that my favorite teacher, Henry Koerner, used to say:

"It makes me want to vomit so much that I could cover the world in a sea of vomit."

Henry knew a little something about propaganda, himself, having escaped the Nazis and also having created some well known propaganda of his own for the US during W.W.II.

The Bush Fish symbol is either seriously misguided piety or seriously nasty propaganda.

O'Connor Rakes in Out-Of-State $$$

According to the Tribune-Review Pittsburgh mayoral primary candidate Bob O'Connor is not only the recipient of the most big money donations (28 contributions of $10,000 or more and 353 of at least $1,000), nearly two-thirds of the $1.2 million he has raised has come from OUTSIDE the city.

So what will these Big Spenders get for their dollars? As the Trib notes, "Political observers and O'Connor's competitors say campaign contributors will want at least access for their financial support."

The Trib further quotes opponent Bill Peduto saying the following:

"I would say that special interests have chosen their candidate in Bob O'Connor, and with it comes their agendas."

May 14, 2005

HOT DOG! GOTV!

Looking for something to do this weekend? Want better city government? Then PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE give even an hour or two this weekend to help put Bill Peduto into office!

Sat, Sun, Mon – GOTV = GET OUT THE VOTE
Phone calls, lit drops, help at the office. 9am to 9pm


SAT, 1:30 pm Meet Bill Peduto @ Tazzo D’Oro
1125 Highland Ave, Highland Park

SAT, 6:30 pm DEBATE PARTY with Bill Peduto
Cappy’s Café, Walnut Street, Shadyside
Stop by and watch the debates with Bill and supporters

SUN, Noon – FREE HOT DOGS and VEGGIE DOGS
The hot dog truck returns to Peduto Headquarters.
Stop on by for some lunch, stay to help with GOTV

ELECTION DAY – Poll watchers, door-knockers and phone bankers are still needed. Work downtown? Help phone bank during your lunch hour or after work!

To sign up call 412-338-1460, email lindsay@yahoo.com or just show up!

The Peduto Headquarters is located at 1100 Smallman St. in the strip district. Free parking is available next to the building and they have passes to the lot across the street.

Have you signed up to help yet? Click HERE

May 13, 2005

White House Moves Disability Benefits to The Chopping Block

THEN
Bush: Disability Benefits Won’t Be Cut. “[Bush] said he has no plans to cut benefits for the approximately 40 percent of Social Security recipients who collect monthly disability and survivor payments as he prepares his plan for partial privatization.” [Washington Post, 1/16/05]

NOW
Bush Administration Won’t Protect Disability Benefits.
“Future Social Security retirement benefits for disabled workers is a matter for negotiations with Congress as it drafts solvency legislation, the Bush administration said Thursday, declining to say whether they should be raised, lowered or left unchanged. ‘Any plan that maintains current disability benefits will need to address the transition to retirement, and those details will be worked out through the legislative process,’ said White House spokesman Trent Duffy.” [AP, 5/13/05]

Read the entire story at BUZZFLASH

May 12, 2005

Scathing Reviews

Yesterday's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Letters to the Editor section included three less-than-rave reviews of the P-G's endorsement of Bob O'Connor for Mayor.

You can read them HERE, and yes, the second letter is from me.

And while we're on the topic of Tuesday's primary election, I attended a fundraiser for Bill Peduto last night. The highlight of the evening (aside from Peduto's speech) was a blooper roll from Peduto's TV commercials. Aside from being hilarious, it was also nice to see a candidate who can laugh at himself.

Some Relevant Articles in the Pittsburgh City Paper

Run, don't walk to your local news stand (or coffeeshop or wherever else they distribute these) and pick up the 5.11/5.18/05 issue of the Pittsburgh City Paper.

Chris Potter (he of the formally long hair) has an article on the DfP's Santorum petition. No surprise, but he caught a local republican party hack (Ron Francis, County Councilor) in a lie. Potter writes:

County Councilor Ron Francis, a Republican from the west suburbs, appeared at the May 5 press conference to defend Santorum. Documents like Santorum’s driver’s license and automobile registration list the Penn Hills home as his address, Francis noted, and Santorum “pays thousands of dollars a year to Pennsylvania and local governments.”

Francis charged Santorum’s enemies were seeking to use the “machinery of government,” for “a partisan political attack.” Opponents were “turn[ing] the county government upside down,” he said; “[t]housands of dollars have already been spent chasing down this exemption” in the fruitless search for Santorum’s exemption.

HOWEVER
...in December, county spokeswoman Ali Detar told City Paper that Santorum’s paperwork had been requested not by activists, as Francis charged, but by that noted Democratic house organ, the Tribune-Review.
Smart move, Mr Francis. Nice command of the facts.

In another section of the City Paper, John McIntire has a column on our favorite republican on the House Ethics Committee, Congresswoman Melissa Hart. He begins this way:
Congresswoman Melissa Hart walks into a bar and the bartender says, “Congresswoman, why the long face?”

OK, that’s a recycled John Kerry horse-face joke. But if Melissa does have a long face, it could be because some say she isn’t fit to lead a possible ethics inquiry into the alleged shenanigans of Tom DeLay, the Texas representative and Republican leader in the House.

Why would Missy Hart be unfit? “You cannot be the judge or jury of someone with whom you have financial ties, you just can’t,” rants Melanie Sloan of the Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington.
And it just goes downhill for Missy from then on. She accepted 15 Grand from Delay, she held a fundraiser at Jack Abramoff's resturant and Abramoff's in deep doo-doo with the IRS and is central to the investigation into Delay. Nothing new, but it's always good to see it in print. McIntire continues:
But let’s get back to Missy. Her press guy, Lee Cohen, told me they aren’t allowed to comment on ethics committee matters, but Hart did tell USA Today there’s no problem here. “That’s just normal” for political leaders to make campaign contributions, she said.

And a Hart aide told the Post-Gazette “there was nothing sinister, everything was above board,” with the fund-raiser at Abramoff’s restaurant.
Nothing sinister. Everything's completely normal. Here's McIntire's kicker:
But [Melanie Sloan of the Citizens for Ethics and Responsibility in Washington] thinks it’s curious that a third-term Congresswoman without a ton of power or experience would lead this kind of an inquiry. “Obviously they know her. They vetted her very carefully. It’s a dangerous path she’s taking. If DeLay manages to stay and she helps him do that, she’s golden. But if he goes down and she is seen as someone who was willing to overlook his unethical behavior, her reputation will suffer.”

You could have a long career ahead of you, Missy. Wake up and smell the java.
I could not have written it better myself - not even close. Which is why John McIntire has a regular column and all I have is this blog.

May 11, 2005

Update on the Scott Baker Jeff Gannon thing

In case you missed it, here's my original posting. Well Rob Owen has chimed in. Read it here.

My biggest complaint is that he never mentions me or this blog. Oh well, that's what happens when one's ego is based on an unerring sense of entitlement.

Owen quotes the able Baker as defending the seminar at the right-leaning Leadership Institute School of Broadcast Journalism as "ideologically neutral" adding:
It was more just a place to do it. We're the odd stepsister, the strange aunt. They don't understand us and leave us alone. They never told me in 13 years I needed to teach a certain kind of material. It has never come up, not even one time.
Ok. I still don't believe it, but I thought it important that Scott's self-defense be given some space.

And what does the "ramrod straight" Jeff Gannon have to say about Scott Baker? Take a look at it here. Here it is:
Poor Scott Baker, the Pittsburgh television news anchor who taught a weekend broadcast journalism course at the Leadership Institute! It seems like he has been vilified by the same blogger posse that went after me. I'm sorry for him having been drawn into this, but the Left is attacking everyone associated with me no matter how remote or inconsequential in pursuit of its 'scorched earth'policy.

With all due respect to Mr. Baker, what I learned about journalism was gained from having been the first editor of my high school newspaper and sports editor of my college weekly. Somehow these facts escape those who are more interested in looking at headless photographs and spinning conspiracy theories.
Headless photographs?

May 10, 2005

REMINDER: Party for Peduto @ the Beehive! is TONIGHT!

Hosted By: Mama Spell, Sherrie F, Sean F, Natalia R, Ben R, Chris S, Hot Dogma and Yours Truly (me!)
Where: Beehive Coffeehouse, 1327 E Carson St, Pittsburgh, PA 15203
When: Tuesday, May 10, 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm

More details HERE

What is it with Republicans and Farm Animals?


According to News Hounds anti-abortion extremist Neal Horsley who wants to deny women the choice to control their own bodies also has no real problem with denying farm animals the choice to control their own bodies, that is, he admits to having had sex with farm animals.

Or as Horsley put it:

"When you grow up on a farm in Georgia, your first girlfriend is a mule."
Can we all say, "EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEW!"

Continuing with the farm animal obsession of particularly repugnant Republicans, E. J. Dionne Jr. reminds us in today's Washington Post what Grover Norquist said about Democrats:

"Once the minority of House and Senate are comfortable in their minority status, they will have no problem socializing with the Republicans," he told Richard Leiby of The Post. "Any farmer will tell you that certain animals run around and are unpleasant. But when they've been 'fixed,' then they are happy and sedate. They are contented and cheerful."
I guess Orwell had it right:

All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others

...especially down on the Republican farm...or the Bush "Ranch."

BREAKING NEWS - SCOTT BAKER ON JEFF GANNON



I found this story by way of Attytood, but the real source material is here or here (I'm not sure how those "trackback" things work - sorry!)

Looks like Ruth Ann Dailey's ex-husband, and current anchor of the 5 O'Clock News at WTAE, Scott Baker outs himself as one of Jeff Gannon journalism teachers.

Why anyone would claim responsibility for any part of that trainwreck is completely beyond me.
Monsieur Boulanger (look it up - it's funny) is a blogger at Ariana Huffington's new Über-blog, The Huffington Post.

Here's how the Baker-man starts:
I’m the guy who taught Jeff Gannon everything he knows about journalism. Okay maybe not everything. I’m still not clear on (sorry all hyperlinks on this one freak me out) his evident self-description of “Position: Top.”
Ok Scott, here are the various overlapping definitions of "Top" that can be found at UrbanDictionary.com.
1. A man who likes giving anal intercourse to other men rather than receiving.
2. A person of any above description who "takes the lead" or is dominant in sexual situation. May or may not include S & M, fantasy role play or fetishes or servitude. May or may not want to be touched. Will initiate sex. If includes S & M, the top will be the one to do the bondage & pain play etc. to the bottom
3. A person who is in control in a BDSM relationship.
I'll leave it up up to you, Scott, as to whether you're lucky Gannon/Guckert didn't offer to fill you in on the definition. So now you know exactly what he was offering (for a hefty fee) on his website.

But hey, aren't conservatives supposed to be against that sort of thing? Or are all those "sanctity of marriage" referenda about something else?

In any event, Scott Baker uses his inaugural blog entry to mention the Jeff Gannon story in Vanity Fair.

There are some interesting tidbits that come from Attytood: Scott Baker is a graduate (scroll down to page 19) of The Leadership Institute of Broadcast Journalism. And while Scott describes his own "simple little" seminar there with:

This is what I get for trying to teach a simple little seminar on media career strategies? Jeff Gannon as my star student? I had more modest goals. Most kids trying to dive into media careers fail miserably. So maybe I can nudge them with a few helpful ideas. Hoped for result: entry level job in, say, a small market television station. Not so hoped for: center square of odd journalism scandal.

The Vanity Fair article calls it a seminar for “aspiring right-wing journalists.” My mantra to the students involves getting rid of the “right-wing” and esteeming the value of solid day-to-day journalism. Good old-fashioned storytelling.

The website for the institute describes the institute this way (indeed it's the first sentence on the first page):
The Leadership Institute, founded in 1979 by Morton C. Blackwell, is the oldest and most-respected training organization for conservative leaders at the local, state and national levels. Over the years, more than 40,000 of today's conservative "movers and shakers" have turned to the Leadership Institute for their training needs.
So I guess there's something of a dissonance between Scott's mantra and how the Institute presents itself.

So Scott Baker, gratuate of the conservative training organization.

Tell me again about the liberal media bias?

May 9, 2005

An Update on the Santorum/Homestead Exemption Story

Reid Frazier (who, by the way, declined my offer for him to make a comment about my previous posting) of the Tribune-Review has a follow up to his piece from a few days ago.

Read it here.

And there have been a couple of local DfP responses to the usual wingnuttery coming out of the RNC. Read the first one here. And the second here.

DA spokesman, Mike Manko laid out what should happen next:
The prosecutor [Stephen Zappala] announced Friday that he had referred the Santorum case to county manager Jim Flynn. If the administrator finds that Santorum does not live in Penn Hills and is wrongly receiving a $70 annual tax break on his home there, the case could go back to prosecutors for a criminal investigation...
So there you have it. If County Manager Flynn finds that the Senator does not live in Penn Hills and that he's wrongly receiving the tax break (but really, if the Penn Hills residence is not Santorum's primary residence, then how can he be entitled to the tax break?), then the case goes back to Zappala's office.

Frazier added that the DA's office would be looking into whether the Senator provided false information on the tax form. I am guessing this would occur after whatever finding the administrator makes. If the administrator finds that the Senator is entitled to the break, then I can't see how the DA's office can investigate whether the Senator lied on that portion of the tax form. But maybe I'm missing something.

Frazier couldn't reach Flynn for comment.

To which Frazier adds what has to be the goofiest non sequitur in recent memory:
Santorum spokesman Robert Traynham said: "I think this underscores that he is a resident of Penn Hills and that his opponents are trying to use it as a political attack against the senator's family."
Underscores what, exactly? The fact that Frazier couldn't reach County Manager Flynn or the fact that the DA's office referred the case to him? And how exactly does the Senator's family fit into this?

How would an investigation into whether US Senator Rick Santorum provided false information on an official tax form be "a political attack" against his family? Does anyone rational person actually believe the drivel coming out of the Senator's office?

Now that we've waded knee-deep through the usual wingnuttery, let's now bathe in the odiousness of the really strange wingnuttery:
National Republican Senatorial Committee spokesman Brian Nick chastised Democracy for Pittsburgh for allowing solicitations for adult Web sites to appear for weeks in the comments section of its online discussion board.

Nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah-nyah!

So there's a group of citizens in Allegheny county (all law-abiding constituents of Senator Santorum's by the way) petitioning their government for a redress of a grievance, and the Senator's insulting response is to smear them with the porn brush.

Luckily, the good folks at DfP have already responded:

Apparently, some Republican groups are claiming that we at Democracy for Pittsburgh are “purveyors of porn” because of the comments with links to porn sites that are occasionally posted on our site.

The porn comments are a form of spam (junk messages) which are posted to increase the number of links to the spammers website, thereby increasing its ranking in search engines like Google.

We obviously do not welcome such messages and do our best to clean them out on a regular basis.

We would like to take this opportunity, however, to remind everybody that Rick Santorum has happily accepted $12,000 in donations from Adelphia Cable, an actual purveyor of porn.

If only we had that kind of money, we would probably have better comment filtering.

So Senator, how many viewings of how many movies does it take to make up 12 grand? That is to say, how many people had to watch porn for you to get your money? Any plans on giving it all back?

How infantile, how ridiculous, and how very typical.

May 6, 2005

The Trib Shades the Santorum Story (no surprise there)

With obvious deference to the Maria, QoaM, I'd like to take the opportunity to deconstruct the Trib's reporting on yesterday's events. Let me first say that I don't know Reid Frazier, the reporter who covered the story from The Tribune-Review and that I'll be e-mailing him to give him the opportunity to respond. Of course, I'll post whatever he says.

He begins the article with this:
Allegheny County prosecutors don't know if U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum violated any laws by getting a $70 annual tax break on his Penn Hills house.
And in doing so it's pretty obvious that Frazier is looking to downplay the size and importance of the story. Why are these people getting so hung up on a lousy seventy bucks a year?

With his third paragraph:
Democracy for Pittsburgh, a group of Democratic Party activists, petitioned Zappala for the inquiry. Democrats have targeted the Republican in next year's election.
Frazier is looking to emphasize the seeming political nature of the activists and more importantly the timing of the petition. Too bad that not all of the members of Democracy for Pittsburgh are indeed members of the Democratic Party.

Then before quoting anything from the petition or Joy Sabl's comments yesterday (which by the way he never quotes), he gives the floor to Senator Santorum:
"This is obviously a partisan political move on the part of these people, motivated either by the Democratic (National) Committee or the campaign of my opponent," said Santorum, the Senate's No. 3 Republican. "I'd hope the district attorney would not waste taxpayers' resources on playing political games."
And the quote does nothing but reinforce the first few paragraphs of the piece. Santorum is trying to spin this story into being nothing more than a "political game" of the DNC or the Senatorial campaign of Bob Casey. Good public servant that he is, he's hoping the DA won't "waste taxpayers' resources" in tracking down the story.

The next two paragraphs keep pounding away at the political angle:
Democracy for Pittsburgh is affiliated with Democracy for America, a grassroots organization that grew out of Democrat Howard Dean's presidential campaign.

Zappala, a Democrat, declined to comment.
Frazier has again linked DfP with Democracy for America and through that to "Democrat Howard Dean" (who just happens to head up the DNC). Oh, and he dutifully points out that DA Zappala is also a democrat. Fancy that!

Frazier finally gives us something close to the real issues at play when he writes in the 7th and 8th paragraphs of his 15 paragraph piece.

But spokesman Mike Manko said the prosecutor's sleuths will examine whether Santorum provided false information in applying for the exemption. Santorum spends most of his time with this family in Leesburg, Va., outside Washington.

The exemption allows homeowners to save on the county property taxes they pay on their primary residence. [emphasis added]

I added the emphasis to "primary residence" for a reason. It'll become important in a few minutes.

After adding this defense of the Senator:
Santorum is registered to vote in Penn Hills. His automobile registration and driver's license list his address on Stephens Lane, Penn Hills.
Frazier allows Senator Santorum some slimy wiggle room with this:

Allegheny County officials have been unable even to locate an application for a homestead exemption filed by Santorum.

"The county has never found that I filed for it, and to my recollection, I didn't file for it," Santorum said. "The point is, the question is, 'Am I a resident?' Yes. 'Am I entitled to this? Yes.' "

Is the Senator actually saying that he DIDN'T file for the exemption? Not exactly. He just can't remember. The fact that he's received the exemption isn't enough proof, I guess, that he (or someone else) filed for it. Perhaps someone else filed the exemption for the Senator or some overeager staffer pulled a few strings on the Senator's behalf (without the Senator knowign it, of course). Vainly he seeks some wiggle room.

In any event, it's not a question as to whether the Senator is a resident of Penn Hills, it's whether the Penn Hills residence is his primary residence (see? I told you it would be important!). Only then could he get the exemption. I don't know if you can see it, but in the picture at the Democracy for Pittsburgh website article, Joy Sable is in fact pointing at the words "primary residence" on the exemption form. It's the two words highlighted in yellow on the page. Impossible to miss.

So the amount of the exemption really isn't the issue. The real issue is whether Rick Santorum, Junior Senator from Pennsylvania has ever fraudulently filled out a State Tax form.

Isn't filing a fraudulent tax return an illegal act? Don't the residents of the State of Pennsylvania have the right to know whether their Junior Senator is a crook?

Busy Being Rabid

...so I couldn't post yesterday. See HERE for the gory details.

May 4, 2005

May 5

Good Afternoon.

I wanted to take a break from the usual postings here at the blog to post this:
Tin soldiers and Nixon's comin'.
We're finally on our own.
This summer I hear the drummin'.
Four dead in Ohio.

Gotta get down to it.
Soldiers are gunning us down.
Should have been done long ago.
What if you knew her and
Found her dead on the ground?
How can you run when you know?
On this day in 1970, National Guardsmen fired on demonstration protesting the invasion of Cambodia and Nixon Administration's policies in Vietnam.

Four died and nine were wounded.

Here's a picture to look at.

And here's an overview from answers.com.

A few moments, please, for Allison Krause, Jeffrey Miller, Sandra Scheuer, and William Schroeder.

Queen of All Media

OK...not hardly. But I was quoted in the Tribune-Review today regarding tomorrow's scheduled press conference which Pittsburgh for Democracy will hold prior to presenting Allegheny County District Attorney Stephen Zappala with a petition asking that Senator Rick Santorum pay back his Homestead Exemption. Quoting from the actual petition:

THEREFORE we the undersigned, being residents of Allegheny County, call upon Senator Santorum to voluntarily pay back to the County “taxes due, plus interest, plus penalty” and to stop falsely claiming he lives in our county for the purpose of receiving this tax reduction.

FURTHERMORE, if Senator Santorum refuses to repay Allegheny County, we call upon the officers of Allegheny County to prosecute Senator Santorum as provided by law.
And, tomorrow, you can catch me on WRCT 88.3 FM as one of the guests on Lisa Pinkerton's HEADS UP! show between 7:00 and 8:00 PM. Pinkerton describes the program as, "a provocative call in show that covers politics and culture." We'll be discussing Pittsburgh politics and how the city fits into the larger national scene. I will be representing Democracy for Pittsburgh.

To be honest, I'm far more used to calling in to these kinds of shows than being the guest, so if you happen to listen: cut me some slack. Thanks!

May 3, 2005

What Will We Tell The Children?

Did Laura Bush actually imply that her husband gave a hand job to a horse?

"But I'm proud of George. He's learned a lot about ranching since that first year when he tried to milk the horse. What's worse, it was a male horse." - Laura Bush
Yep, I guess she did. Since the comment was made at the White House Correspondents' Association dinner you'd think an enterprising reporter would followup by asking if Preznit Chimpy McFlightsuit enjoyed it...or at least if the horse did.

Of course the statement was said in jest, but as the Honsberger is a Liar blog points out:

Way to go Laura! If Hillary Clinton had said the same thing 7 years ago, the right-wing guardians of our nation's fragile moral fiber would be asking with much hand-wringing and teeth-gnashing, "How do we explain this to the children?"

While the First Lady was still on the topic of their 'ranch' she also said the following:

"George didn't know much about ranches when we bought the place. Andover and Yale don't have a real strong ranching program."
There may be more truth in that statement than anything that's come out of this White House in the past four years.

May 2, 2005

Party for Peduto @ the Beehive!



We're big for Bill!

Meet your friends and neighbors at this rally for Bill Peduto.

Come meet Bill and ask him about keeping Pittsburgh a fun, vibrant city or about cutting his own salary.

Hosted By: Mama Spell, Sherrie F, Sean F, Natalia R, Ben R, Chris S, Hot Dogma and Yours Truly (me!)
Where: Beehive Coffeehouse, 1327 E Carson St, Pittsburgh, PA 15203

When: Tuesday, May 10, 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm


R.S.V.P.: evite


Drink the BEST Coffee!

Eat YUMMY food!

PARTY FOR PEDUTO on
the fabulous South Side!


"But, Maria," you say, "I'm not overly fabulous or fun, I'm just another blogging schlub, like you!"

Then come out and support the BEST candidate for bloggers who wants to create a district wide downtown private wi-fi hotspot.

And, the Beehive is a free wireless wi-fi hotspot, so get out of the house and come blog from there.

May 1, 2005

Need Progressive Councilwomen?

Event #1, Sunday (TODAY!)
Tonya Payne Fundraiser


You are invited by The Committee to Elect Tonya Payne to a fundraiser for Tonya who is running for City Council.


Food! Fun! 50/50 Raffle!

When: Sunday, May 1
Where: Centre Ave. Hall, 2036 Centre Ave.
Time: 4:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Format: $20 ticket gets you food, fun, 50/50 raffle. Cash bar.
For tickets ahead of time, stop be campaign HQ (1901-15 Centre Ave) or call and reserve one at 412-255-0663. Also tickets at the door.

More info on Tonya Payne at http://www.tonyapayneforcouncil.com

************************************************************************

Event #2, Next Friday
Art for Erin


You are invited to a fundraiser Erin Molchany who is running for City Council in the upcoming primary.

And, buy cool art!

You'll have an opportunity to buy art from the linoleum-block collection of Kathy M. Newman who is a local artist and an English professor at CMU. Her work is political, satirical, and funny, and includes such pieces as "Art, Advertising, and Propaganda,""Dynamite," and "Birth Control."

When: Friday, May 6
Where: Quiet Storm Coffee Cafe, 5430 Penn Avenue
Time: 5:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Format: All art will be for sale on this night, during these hours only!

Need more info? Contact Kathy Newman at 412-363-3983 or kn4@andrew.cmu.edu

Also check out http://www.erinmolchany.com