Prosecute the torture.

January 31, 2006

Completely self-serving blog post.

Hey, gang.

Take a look at this.

I wrote it.

IMPEACH

Tonight

Alternate State of the Union by Gore Vidal
Gore Vidal Delivers State of the Union: "Let the Powers That Be Know There is Something Called We the People of the U.S. and all Sovereignty Rests in Us."

Video & Text: http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/01/31/1532246


Progress Pittsburgh Meeting
The first meeting of Progress Pittsburgh for 2006 will be held this evening at 7:00 pm at the Union Project, 801 N Negley Ave. at the corner of Negley and Stanton.

Agenda: http://progresspittsburgh.org/forums/viewtopic.php?t=338


Get Smashed
The Angry Drunk Bureaucrat has some link to some complicated drinking game involving some TV show on tonight -- we say just take a gulp every time the camera shows Hillary. That ought to do it.

Link: http://angrydrunkbureaucrat.blogspot.com/2006/01/state-of-union-drinking-game.html

The 2005 Koufax Awards: Best Post Nominations

You can't vote yet, but the nominations are up:
The 2005 Koufax Awards: Best Post

This compilation is of the 222 (+/-) nominations for Best Posts in the Lefty Blogosphere. Voting will open up when all the Koufax nomination posts are complete. Drumroll please.....

2 Political Junkies: Absolut Corruption
2 Political Junkies: Dreaming With Bush
2 Political Junkies: "The Plan"

Check out the other 220 or so Best of the Left here.

January 30, 2006

The Filibuster: Saving it for something REALLY important

January 30, 2007

The following Democratic Senators voted with Republicans for cloture today on a bill to make George W. Bush "Our Glorious and Infallible Leader for Life:"
Akaka, Daniel K. (D-HI), Baucus, Max (D-MT), Bingaman, Jeff (D-NM), Byrd, Robert C. (D-WV), Cantwell, Maria (D-WA), Carper, Thomas R. (D-DE), Conrad, Kent (D-ND), Dorgan, Byron L. (D-ND), Inouye, Daniel K. (D-HI), Johnson, Tim (D-SD), Kohl, Herb (D-WI), Landrieu, Mary L. (D-LA), Lieberman, Joseph I. (D-CT), Lincoln, Blanche L. (D-AR), Nelson, Bill (D-FL), Nelson, E. Benjamin (D-NE), Pryor, Mark L. (D-AR), Rockefeller, John D., IV (D-WV), Salazar, Ken (D-CO)
After the vote, they released a statement saying they were saving a filibuster for something "really important."

(Crossposted at Daily KOS )

Pittsburgh to get DIEBOLD voting machines? (and other voting messes)

(From a heads up from PA04 Blue)

According to Saturday's Post-Gazette, Allegheny County is a bind:

Allegheny County has until Tuesday to place an order for 5,600 touch-screen voting machines or it risks forfeiting a deeply discounted purchase price, the county Board of Elections was told yesterday.

But the three-member board, which includes county Chief Executive Dan Onorato, put off a final decision because of concerns that the machines won't come equipped with paper printouts that voters can use to check their choices.

Diebold Inc. of North Canton, Ohio, has offered to sell the machines, which resemble ATMs, to the county for $11.9 million, almost $4 million less than a price put forward by Election Systems and Software Inc.

That price also is significantly lower than the $20 million set aside for new machines in the county's 2006 capital budget and could be covered almost entirely by a federal grant. Diebold officials told the county, however, that the $11.9 million price was guaranteed only until the end of the month.

Under the federal Help America Vote Act, legislation that grew out of the disputed 2000 presidential election in Florida, local governments across the country must buy machines that meet strict standards and have them in place by the May primary.

[snip}

Both Mr. Onorato and County Council have said they want machines with paper trails, already a requirement in many states.

But Pennsylvania's Department of State, which oversees elections and must certify all voting machines, hasn't yet approved any touch-screen machines with that feature.

"This is outrageous that we've been put in this position,"
said Councilman Dave Fawcett, R-Oakmont, a member of the elections board. "Harrisburg has totally dropped the ball."

Allison Hrestak, a spokeswoman for the Department of State, said it's up to the state Legislature to mandate the use of paper trails, something legislators have been considering.

In the meantime, Mr. Onorato said, the county needs to move forward.

"I believe in voter verification. I'd like to see it, immediately," he said. "But if we don't move, we lose $12 million. It's a pretty tough situation to be in
."

[snip]

Critics also accuse Diebold of being too close to the Republican Party. People affiliated with the company have contributed significant sums to Republican candidates since 2000, according to The Associated Press.

From a list I'm on:

"The AccuPoll company (whose electronic voting machine I liked when I saw it demonstrated) has now decided not to distribute in the state of Pa. The only other machine that has been certified by the state is made by Diebold, which (according to the commissioner) is the one that about 30 Pa counties have decided on buying. And now it looks like any other counties that were considering a non-Diebold purchase will have no other choice."

From BlackBoxVoting.org:

UPDATE Dec. 16: Volusia County (FL) joins Leon in dumping Diebold. Due to contractual non-performance and security design issues, Leon County (Florida) supervisor of elections Ion Sancho has announced that he will never again use Diebold in an election. He has requested funds to replace the Diebold system from the county. On Tuesday, the most serious “hack” demonstration to date took place in Leon County. The Diebold machines succumbed quickly to alteration of the votes. This comes on the heels of the resignation of Diebold CEO Wally O'Dell, and the announcement that stockholder's class action suits and related actions have been filed against Diebold by four separate law firms. Further “hack” testing on additional vulnerabilities is tentatively scheduled before Christmas in the state of California.

Finnish security expert Harri Hursti, together with Black Box Voting, demonstrated that Diebold made misrepresentations to Secretaries of State across the nation when Diebold claimed votes could not be changed on the “memory card” (the credit-card-sized ballot box used by computerized voting machines.

A test election was run in Leon County on Tuesday with a total of eight ballots. Six ballots voted "no" on a ballot question as to whether Diebold voting machines can be hacked or not. Two ballots, cast by Dr. Herbert Thompson and by Harri Hursti voted "yes" indicating a belief that the Diebold machines could be hacked.

Pennsylvanians want voting machines with a paper trail (by 73%).

From the Committee to Elect William Sargent's website (Sargent has been staying on top of this), here's info for the relevant Allegheny County people to contact:

Dan Onoronto - executive@county.allegheny.pa.us
Phone: (412) 350-6500, Fax: (412) 350-6512
John DeFazio
-jdefazio@county.allegheny.pa.us
Phone:(412) 350-6516, Fax: (412) 350-6499
Dave Fawcett -
dfawcett@county.allegheny.pa.us
Phone: (412) 350-6520, Fax: (412) 350-6499


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

Urgent! Calls needed now!

The Protect Our Vote Coalition has learned that the Anti-Voting Rights Act (HB 1318) is on the calendar and may be voted on as early as Tuesday 1/31.

Last year, your activism helped fend off provisions of this legislation that would have imposed an ID requirement on Pennsylvania voters and rolled back the voting rights of former felons. But now the Pennsylvania House of Representatives is rumored to be trying to revive them.

It is imperative that you call your legislators now and tell them that if HB 1318 includes restrictive voter identification requirements and rolls back the voting rights of former felons they must oppose the bill!

TELL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE TO VOTE NO ON HB 1318. You can look up your representative's phone number at www.legis.state.pa.us .

Check out the voting record below to see if your representative voted NO against this Bill the last time it was in the House. You might be surpried. Call them and urge them to Vote No this time and thank those who alredy Voted No and make sure they are voting NO again.

Use the talking points below to aid your discussion with your legislator:

  • There is no need for photo identification at the polls because it does not prevent the kinds of fraud that this bill seeks to remedy. Further, it makes lines at the polls longer, resulting in more confusion.
  • Felons who have been released from prison get jobs and pay taxes, and should be able to vote as well. Disenfranchising former felons after they leave prison is unfair and discriminatory. It is unthinkable that in 2006, we would be discussing the legalized discrimination and disenfranchisement of free Pennsylvanians.
  • It is time to enact meaningful election reform, which will remove barriers to voting, increase voter turnout and eliminate voter disenfranchisement.
    Get on the bus! We need to stop this now. We have a plan and we need your help.

  • On the morning of Wednesday, February 1, buses will carry you and other activists from Philadelphia and Pittsburgh to the State Capitol in Harrisburg.

    If you can get to the Capitol on your own, meet us in the East Rotunda between 9:00 and 10:00 AM. Please email national@pfaw.org to let us know you're coming.

    The day will begin with a training on the bus about HB 1318. From 9:00-1:00, you'll visit legislators' offices. (If you're driving to Harrisburg on your own, we'll train you when you arrive.) At 1:00, meet for a brown-bag lunch and a meet-and-greet with legislators who support our work. (Please bring lunch or money to buy lunch. Lunches can be supplied for those of limited resources).

    Philadelphia
    Buses from Philadelphia will leave at 7:30 AM from Project H.O.M.E ., 1515 Fairmont Ave., and return at 5:00 PM.
    To RSVP, call Jennine Miller, (215) 232-7272, ext. 3042.

    Pittsburgh
    Buses will leave at 5:30 AM from The Hill House, 1835 Centre Ave. in the Hill District
    OR
    At 6 AM from Allegheny County ACORN, 5907 Penn Ave. in East Liberty.
    To RSVP, call Celeste Taylor, (412) 628-7867.

    Santorum: Super Freak Gettin' His Freak On

    Rick Santorum (R-VA) has been called everything from "Sen. Man-On-Dog" to "Tricky Ricky" to, most recently by Atrios, the "Lying Freak." The "freak" part comes from his bizarre pronouncements such as that the public schooling of children is abnormal and that priests sexually abused children because the kids were asking for it as well as because Boston is a liberal town...and then there was that whole creepy taking the dead fetus home to play 'n' pray with his preschool-age kids.

    So Ricky's freakiness cred is well established.

    But just in case you missed some of the latest examples from the King of Freak:

    Ricky Freaks Out On Reporters

    From AmericaBlog:
    AMERICAblog's spies on the Hill tell us that at 4:34pm Eastern today (gotta love their precision) Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) "totally blew his top, totally lost control" while getting off the underground train that connects the US Capitol building and the Dirksen Senate Office Builing.

    It seems a reporter approached Santorum just as he got off the train and asked Santorum something to the effect of: "Can you tell me about the 'K Street Project.""

    Santorum's response?

    He started screaming, according to our source. "It's just a meeting!", Santorum reportedly yelled (again, in public, right near the Senate cafeteria where lots of folks are gathered). "What Harry Reid said Wednesday [when he announed the Democrats' ethics reform package] is a total lie!"

    Ricky's Completely Freakin' Craven Proposal to "Support" the Troops

    From Santorum Exposed (with video):

    Last week Rick Santorum addressed the Centre County Republican Party and asked them to support him. During the course of his speech Rick actually had the gall to compare putting a Santorum bumper sticker on your car to serving your country in Iraq or Afghanistan.

    That's right, he literally said that putting one of his bumper stickers on your vehicle was a way "to step up and serve your country." The video is below the following transcript:

    Santorum: "And yet we have brave men and women who are willing to step forward because they know what's at stake. They're willing to sacrifice their lives for this great country. What I'm asking all of you tonight is not to put on a uniform. Put on a bumper sticker. Is it that much to ask? Is it that much to ask to step up and serve your country?" (emphasis ours)

    And no, Rick was NOT talking about a "Support the Troops" bumper sticker, he was absolutely talking about a "Rick Santorum" bumper sticker.


    Freaky!

    Berner/Hafer Press Conference Today

    Barbara Hafer Joins Democratic Candidate Georgia Berner’s Congressional Campaign as Honorary Finance Chair

    Bridgewater, PA – On Monday, January 30, 2006, at 11:00 a.m., Democratic Congressional Candidate Georgia Berner will hold a press conference at the Silk House in Ambridge, Pennsylvania, to announce that former State Treasurer Barbara Hafer has agreed to serve as Ms. Berner’s Honorary Finance Chair.

    Ms. Hafer will attend and will be available to members of the press for interviews following the conference.

    Ms. Berner, a successful Lawrence County businesswoman and former Federal Reserve Board Member is a candidate for Congress in the 4th Congressional District.

    The Silk House is located at 317 14th Street in Ambridge.

    www.georgiaberner.com

    Bringing Freedom and Democracy to Iraq

    That's what Bush and his Kool-Aid-drinking Apologists say that we're (now) doing, correct?

    And, we're the Good Guys, right?

    It's the Evil Doers who take hostages, no?

    So then why are U.S. troops taking wives of insurgents hostage?

    Why are war crimes being committed in our name?

    Does it have anything to do with a mindset that had Alberto Gonzales describing the Geneva Conventions as "quaint?"

    Inquiring minds want to know.

    Talkin' Trash About Bush

    "If he needs more authority, he just can’t unilaterally decide that that 1978 law is out of date and he will be the guardian of America and he will violate that law. He needs to come back, work with us, work with the courts if he has to, and we will do what we need to do to protect the civil liberties of this country and the national security of this country. "
    Just another crazy, moonbat, liberal hater talking about Bush?

    No.

    The above statement was made on ABC’s This Week by Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE.)

    Hagel joins Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA), Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) — all of whom have questioned the legal basis of Bush’s warrantless domestic surveillance program.

    Think Progress has the links to all their quotes.

    Santorum as seen from the other side of the State

    From yesterday morning's Philadelphia Inquirer. Some highlights:
    Editorial | Santorum and the Lobbyists
    'K Street? K Street? Never heard of it'

    Sen. Rick Santorum (R., Pa.) is trying to do an extreme makeover, in broad daylight.

    He's trying to paper over his central role in a now-infamous program to boost Republicans' clout among Washington lobbyists.
    Cool so far.
    But no voter should fall for the senator's attempt to obscure his ties to the so-called "K Street Project," named after the street that is home to many lobbying firms.

    Santorum was an enthusiastic, high-profile supporter of the project, which sought to install movement conservatives in top lobbying jobs. It also sought to ensure that lobbyists and trade associations supported only Republican issues and candidates.
    I'll retype that one out to makes sure everyone sees it.

    Santorum was an enthusiastic, high-profile supporter of the [K Street] project...

    Here's the kicker:
    Now, in the midst of a tough reelection race, Santorum is trying to distance himself from all things K Street. His leadership office said last week it would stop handing out lists of lobbying job vacancies at the weekly meetings.

    If Santorum now wants to be in the vanguard of lobbying reform, fine. But his conversion is far more dramatic than he's willing to admit.Lil Ricky's trying to get everyone to forget his connections with the current corruption in DC.
    Don't worry, Rick. We won't let anyone forget your connections to the K Street Project.

    IMPEACH

    January 29, 2006

    Jack Kelly - at it again (It IS Sunday, you know)

    Here's a Kelly-quickie before I start with the real stuff. In today's column, Kelly writes:
    Mr. Abramoff is front-page news. But there was virtually no news coverage when one of Sen. Hillary Clinton's fund-raising committees agreed Jan. 5 to pay a $35,000 fine for failing to report $722,000 in contributions.
    Looks like he's making the case for media bias again, doesn't it? Looks like he's saying that when a republican is corrupt it's front-page news, but when a liberal is corrupt, there's little coverage. But we all know better, don't we? When Kelly says something like this, he's usually leaving out an encyclopedia of information. Here's the Washington Post:
    A campaign fundraising group for Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) has agreed to a $35,000 fine for underreporting hundreds of thousands of dollars spent on a Hollywood fundraiser in 2000.

    The organization, New York Senate 2000, agreed to a federal finding that it failed to report $721,895 spent on the fundraiser to boost the former first lady's campaign for the Senate, according to paperwork provided by Peter F. Paul, who helped finance the star-studded gala that drew Cher, Diana Ross, Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston. The Federal Election Commission provided a copy of the signed agreement yesterday.

    New York Senate 2000 lawyer Marc Elias said the agreement ends the investigation and includes a letter from the FEC stating that Clinton did not violate the law.[emphasis added]
    But was there a criminal trial related to this fundraiser? Turns out there was. The Washington Post (from the same article):
    The Hollywood fundraiser was the subject of a criminal trial of Clinton's former national finance director, David F. Rosen. Rosen was acquitted in May 2004 of lying to the FEC about the event.[emphasis added]
    Is there anything else to say about this? Well, a little bit. This is from Fox News (so you know it's fair and balanced):
    Prosecutors said Rosen, 38, panicked over the mounting costs for the fundraiser and lied to conceal its true cost from both the Clinton campaign and the government. They said Clinton was unaware of any wrongdoing.[emphasis added]
    The "they" in that last sentence would be the prosecutors in that case. So even the prosecutors said Senator Clinton was out of the loop. The jury found that Rosen was (in the words of one juror) "in over his head."

    See what is Kelly doing here? Abramoff has already pled guilty and yet Kelly's crying foul that the news coverage of that event is greater than the news coverage for a finished investigation whose paperwork includes an FEC letter stating that Senator Clinton did not violate the law. And even the guy charged with a crime in connection to that investigation was acquitted.

    So tell me again, Jack. Do you really think this story actually stacks up somehow to the actual guilty plea of Jack Abranoff who actually committed actual crimes? In your mind, maybe. But out here in reality, no dice my friend.

    For the record, I am no fan of Senator Clinton. I am, however, a big fan of the truth.

    Now onto the meat of Jack's column. He's trying (no surprise here) to paint the current Republican scandal as a bipartisan one. Luckily I've already blogged on it here.

    The fact that I've already
    posted (two days ago, in fact) information that debunks what Kelly's posted now only underscores what I've posted here last week. Either Jack Kelly didn't bother to fully check out the story (which suggests incompetence) or he did and simply omitted it from his "reporting" (which suggests dishonesty).

    There's another possibility, of course. Jack Kelly could have researched his piece in good faith and did not find what it took me minutes to find. If that's the case, he should offer an explanation and perhaps an apology.

    For the sake of brevity, I'll post some highlights of the analysis that I didn't include the other day:
    • [F]our out of seven tribes -- Saginaw, Chitimacha, Coushatta and Mississippi – saw their contributions to Republicans increase significantly, even vastly, after they became Abramoff’s clients.
    • At the same time, two of those four tribes -- Saginaw and Chitimacha -- saw their giving to Democrats drop or remain static. The other two -- tribes Coushatta and Mississippi -- did see their giving to Dems rise under Abramoff, but by amounts that were dwarfed by the increases in giving to the GOP.
    • These patterns strongly suggest that Abramoff’s representation of the tribes manifested itself largely in a dramatic rise in contributions to the GOP. And it also suggests it’s likely that Abramoff had little impact on giving to Democrats.[emphasis added]
    At the same time:
    Finally, Morris did an extensive comparison of the donations of both Abramoff tribes and non-Abramoff tribes. Morris added up giving from 1991 to the present by virtually all of the approximately 170 tribes that gave politically but are not affiliated with the lobbyist.

    The totals show that in the past 15 years, the tribes gave more than $15.5 million to Democrats and just over $6 million to the GOP -- well over twice as much to Democrats as to Republicans.

    By contrast, if you total up all the contributions Abramoff’s clients made, it comes to $1,845,975 to Republicans and $794,483 to Democrats -- well over twice as much to Republicans as to Democrats. So the pattern of giving of Abramoff’s clients, who gave with far more generosity to Republicans, is almost exactly the reverse of that of virtually all other tribes not connected with Abramoff. Those tribes, by contrast, gave far more to Democrats.
    So the contributions to Democrats from the Abramoff represented tribes would probably have gone there anyway. This is all legal, by the way. To equate it with the illegal contributions (or "bribes") coming from Abramoff is, at best, highly misleading.

    IMPEACH

    January 28, 2006

    When people find out about candidate positions on key issues, Casey plummets

    From OpEdNews:
    Zogby International conducted interviews of 850 likely Pennsylvania voters online on January 26th and 27th.

    [snip]

    The poll is the first to ask about all five PA US senate race candidates and provide positions each holds.

    When people find out about candidate positions on key issues, Casey plummets from a twelve point lead to a dead heat, with a non-significant two point lead.

    Santorum loses when matched with any of the democratic candidates. Both of the self identified progressive democratic candidates draw higher percentages than Casey, with Pennacchio having the largest percentage of votes against Santorum, at a not quite significant 4.4 points higher than Casey. Casey, at non-significant levels, actually gets MORE votes from Republicans once they find out more about him and Santorum.

    Casey refused to respond, so we constructed his positions from media and speeches.
    OpEdNews.com's conclusion on this race-- Santorum wants Casey as his opponent because he wins the demographic game. Casey loses massively in some categories, when voters find out about Casey, which Santorum will sure insure. For example, Casy's support among 18-24 year olds drops from 63% to 40%, with Protestants, it drops from 47.3% to 30%, with liberals, from 95.4% to 68%, with moderates, from 64% to 53%, but Casey actually gains support from conservates, going from 3.9% to 5%, a non-significant, but interesting finding.


    PA Constitutional Amendment - Take Action!

    From The Pennsylvania Gay And Lesbian Alliance:
    Legislative Action Alert - Your Immediate Action Needed
    Contact Your State Representative Today!

    Anti-Marriage Amendment Introduced in State House


    Visit
    www.pa-gala.org and click on "take action" at bottom of page

    On Tuesday, January 24, Representative Boyd and Representative Metcalfe introduced an Amendment to the Pennsylvania Constitution that states:

    “Only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this Commonwealth, and neither the Commonwealth nor any of its political subdivisions shall create or recognize a legal status identical or substantially equivalent to that of marriage for unmarried individuals.”

    The Amendment would prohibit same-sex marriages in PA - forever! The Amendment will also have additional far reaching effects such as invalidating Philadelphia's Life Partnership Ordinance and eliminating Domestic Partnership Benefits offered by private companies and local governments.

    The Bill (HB 2381) currently has 88 co-sponsors (102 votes are need to pass the bill in the State House). Two co-sponsors have already removed their names because of constituent pressure.

    Visit www.pa-gala.org to send an email to your State Representative!

    To Volunteer to help PA-GALA Defeat this Amendment call 610-863-0227 or email
    info@pa-gala.org !

    January 27, 2006

    Rick Santorum and Grover Norquist - two peas in a pod

    Recently, the P-G quoted Senator Rick Santorum saying this about Grover Norquist and the K Street Project:
    "I had absolutely nothing to do -- never met, never talked, never coordinated, never did anything -- with Grover Norquist and the -- quote -- K Street Project," Mr. Santorum said.
    Oh, Rick. How much more foolish can you look right now?

    Take a look. Crooks and Liars has the video.

    IMPEACH

    So it IS a Republican Scandal, after all!

    Via the always awesome Josh Micah Marshall at Talkingpointsmemo, I found this.

    For weeks, it seems, conservatives near and far have been telling us that the Abramoff scandal is somehow "bipartisan" because Abramoff and his clients have given to both political parties. They point to the money Democrats recieved from the Indian tribes who were Abbramoff's clients (and wasn't he stealing from them as well?? - just asking).

    We know that Abramoff gave no money to Democrats. Not it turns out that something very interesting happened when those tribes became Abramoff's clients. I'll let the American Prospect explain things. The begining of the piece:
    A new and extensive analysis of campaign donations from all of Jack Abramoff’s tribal clients, done by a nonpartisan research firm, shows that a great majority of contributions made by those clients went to Republicans. The analysis undercuts the claim that Abramoff directed sums to Democrats at anywhere near the same rate.

    The analysis, which was commissioned by The American Prospect and completed on Jan. 25, was done by Dwight L. Morris and Associates, a for-profit firm specializing in campaign finance that has done research for many media outlets.
    Here's the main point:
    Although Abramoff hasn’t personally given to any Democrats, Republicans, including officials with the GOP campaign to hold on to the Senate, have seized on the donations of his tribal clients as proof that the saga is a bipartisan scandal. And the controversy recently spread to the media when the ombudsman for The Washington Post, Deborah Howell, ignited a firestorm by wrongly asserting that Abramoff had given to both. She eventually amended her assessment, writing that Abramoff “directed his client Indian tribes to make campaign contributions to members of Congress from both parties.”

    But the Morris and Associates analysis, which was done exclusively for The Prospect, clearly shows that it’s highly misleading to suggest that the tribes's giving to Dems was in any way comparable to their giving to the GOP. The analysis shows that when Abramoff took on his tribal clients, the majority of them dramatically ratcheted up donations to Republicans. Meanwhile, donations to Democrats from the same clients either dropped, remained largely static or, in two cases, rose by a far smaller percentage than the ones to Republicans did. This pattern suggests that whatever money went to Democrats, rather than having been steered by Abramoff, may have largely been money the tribes would have given anyway.
    Get a gander at this:
    The big picture is also compelling. Taken together, Abramoff’s tribal clients gave $868,890 to Dems before hiring him; afterwards, they gave $794,483 -- a decrease of nine percent. By contrast, the tribes’ donations to Republicans went from $786,560 pre-Abramoff to $1,845,975 after he became their lobbyist -- an increase of 135 percent.In other words, when Abramoff entered the picture, contributions to Dems dropped, while donations to Republicans more than doubled.
    I'll type that out again in case you missed it:
    when Abramoff entered the picture, contributions to Dems dropped, while donations to Republicans more than doubled.
    Got that?

    IMPEACH

    More idiotic things Jim Quinn said...

    I heard Pittsburgh's own well-armed terrorist nut-job, Jim Quinn, on the radio this morning. He said a couple of completely idiotic things. More idiotic than usual, I mean.

    A caller called in to talk about eminent domain and tried to connect it to the US Government's seizing of Indian land in the past.

    Quinn cut the caller off by saying that he really didn't think the comparision was useful. Then he added, "I would consider giving the Indians back their land, if they could furnish a deed."

    Idiotic, on so many levels.

    The second idiotic thing was that Quinn said that the Abramoff scandal is going fade quickly.

    More wishful thinking, I guess, from the well-armed terrorist nut-job.

    IMPEACH

    January 26, 2006

    Santorum Denies the K Street Project (more lies from the GOP)

    Maeve Reston in today's P-G:
    With Democrats comparing his ties to lobbyists with "organized crime," Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., yesterday swung back, saying the Democratic criticism amounted to libel and unequivocally denying that he helped shape the GOP's controversial "K Street Project."
    Helped shape? I wonder if that was the question asked. At least from this snippet, it looks like when challenenged about his connection to the K Street Project, Lil Ricky "swings back" by saying he didn'thelp shape the project. Those are two different issues, if you ask me. It looks like our lil Ricky avoided one question by changing the subject to another.

    Reston also points out:
    Since he became the Senate's third-ranking Republican in 2001, Mr. Santorum has held weekly meetings with top Republican lobbyists at which he discusses, among other matters, job openings at Washington lobbying firms.

    But, in interviews with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, he has said those discussions -- which he previously referred to as "the K Street meetings" -- are merely to ensure Republicans are putting forward good candidates for the jobs.

    Mr. Santorum flatly denied yesterday that the meetings were an integral part of the "K Street Project."
    Wait a minute. Santorum referred to them as "K Street meetings" and now he's trying to distance himself by saying they're not? No wait - look closely. He didn't say they weren't "K Street meetings," he said they weren't "an integral part" of the K Street Project. Ok, fine. They weren't "integral." So how important were they, Senator?

    But what is this "K Street Project" anyway? This is how the Washington Monthly characterized it way back in July/August 2003:
    When presidents pick someone to fill a job in the government, it's typically a very public affair. The White House circulates press releases and background materials. Congress holds a hearing, where some members will pepper the nominee with questions and others will shower him or her with praise. If the person in question is controversial or up for an important position, they'll rate a profile or two in the papers. But there's one confirmation hearing you won't hear much about. It's convened every Tuesday morning by Rick Santorum, the junior senator from Pennsylvania, in the privacy of a Capitol Hill conference room, for a handpicked group of two dozen or so Republican lobbyists. Occasionally, one or two other senators or a representative from the White House will attend. Democrats are not invited, and neither is the press.

    The chief purpose of these gatherings is to discuss jobs--specifically, the top one or two positions at the biggest and most important industry trade associations and corporate offices centered around Washington's K Street, a canyon of nondescript office buildings a few blocks north of the White House that is to influence-peddling what Wall Street is to finance. In the past, those people were about as likely to be Democrats as Republicans, a practice that ensured K Street firms would have clout no matter which party was in power. But beginning with the Republican takeover of Congress in 1994, and accelerating in 2001, when George W. Bush became president, the GOP has made a determined effort to undermine the bipartisan complexion of K Street. And Santorum's Tuesday meetings are a crucial part of that effort. Every week, the lobbyists present pass around a list of the jobs available and discuss whom to support. Santorum's responsibility is to make sure each one is filled by a loyal Republican--a senator's chief of staff, for instance, or a top White House aide, or another lobbyist whose reliability has been demonstrated. After Santorum settles on a candidate, the lobbyists present make sure it is known whom the Republican leadership favors. "The underlying theme was [to] place Republicans in key positions on K Street. Everybody taking part was a Republican and understood that that was the purpose of what we were doing," says Rod Chandler, a retired congressman and lobbyist who has participated in the Santorum meetings. "It's been a very successful effort."
    Then later:
    It took the 2000 elections, which gave Republicans the White House and Congress, to completely change the climate. In the months after, Santorum became the Senate's point man on K Street and launched his Tuesday meetings.
    And so the question, if this information has been out there for 2 and a half years or so, why is Lil Ricky only distancing himself from it now? Could it be because of the upcoming election?

    Naaah!

    Back to the P-G:
    Though publications such as The Washington Post, Roll Call and Washington Monthly have all reported that Mr. Santorum's meetings were a central part of Mr. Norquist's "K Street Project" strategy, Mr. Santorum said yesterday that his meetings were a separate initiative.

    "I had absolutely nothing to do -- never met, never talked, never coordinated, never did anything -- with Grover Norquist and the -- quote -- K Street Project," Mr. Santorum said.

    "[Senate Minority Leader] Harry Reid made a statement that I meet with Grover Norquist every Wednesday," Mr. Santorum added. "I don't meet with him every Wednesday. I have nothing to do with this project and for [Mr. Reid] to make that statement is libelous. It's absolutely false."
    Of course they were separate. Santorum himself called them "K Street meetings." They've been characterized as central to the K Street Project for more than two years and they did the same thing that the K Street Project was looking to do (find lobbying jobs for Republicans). So of course Rick Santorum is being absolutely truthful when he asserts that the two are "separate initiatives."

    But I wondered, did Senator Reid actually say that Santorum met with Norquist "every Wednesday?" It seems like splitting hairs but here's what Senator Reid said recently to Jim Lehrer:
    SEN. HARRY REID: Having Sen. Santorum talk about reform is like having John Gotti talk about doing something about organized crime. He’s one of the problems. So –

    JIM LEHRER: Why is he one of the problems?

    SEN. HARRY REID: Because he was the liaison to K Street, he has gone down to the meetings, they meet every Wednesday in Grover Norquist’s office
    And Senator Man-on-Dog said:
    Harry Reid made a statement that I meet with Grover Norquist every Wednesday," Mr. Santorum added. "I don't meet with him every Wednesday."
    It's possible that Senator Reid was referring to the meetings as occurring on Wednesdays, and that Santorum's been to at least one. But that seems like splitting hairs. So let's let it go.

    So fine. Santorum says he doesn't meet with Norquist every Wednesday, but he didn't deny meeting him on any Wednesday either. He's also using the present tense. Are Norquist's Wednesday meetings still taking place? If they ended some time ago and even if Rick went to every one of them, he'd still be correct if he were to say he doesn't meet with Norquist now.

    Nor did he deny Reid's charge about being the "liason to K Street." So how many times did Senator Santorum meet with Grover Norquist on those Wednesday meetings? Norquist admitted to going to at least one of Santorum's Tuesday meetings. And how many Wednesday meetings did Senator Santorum attend (with our without Norquist being there)?

    Rick Santorum can't even lie clearly.

    IMPEACH

    "I’d love it if Kos and John Aravosis and anyone else from far away with a national profile, would stay the fuck away from Pennsylvania politics."

    So says Chris at Rowhouse Logic.

    More here, including this:
    "The thing I love best about this is that Markos, a guy with a huge readership and at least a little pull, is taking a shit on the only two Democrats in Pennsylvania who have the spine to run against Casey in the Democratic primary. This is after Rendell and the DNSC wiped the table clean and anointed Bob Casey as the next Democrat to have his ass handed to him by Santorum."

    January 25, 2006

    Defining Domestic Down

    Oh, OK. Now I get it. it's not "domestic spying" because your phone bill calls it an "international call."

    [Please kill me now.]

    From today's press briefing (and, yes, it's unpatriotic to think of the old "Who's on First" routine while reading this):

    Q Back to the NSA. The White House last night put out paper backing up its claims that this was a terrorist surveillance program, saying the charges of domestic spying -- you defined what "domestic" meant. Isn't one end of that phone call on domestic soil? Why is the charge of it being domestic spying so far off?

    MR. McCLELLAN: For the same reasons that a phone call from someone inside the United States to someone outside the United States is not a domestic call. If you look at how that is billed on your phone records, it's billed as an international call, it is charged the international rate. And so that's the best way to sum that up. Because one communication within this surveillance has to be outside of the United States. That means it's an international communication, for the very reason I just said.

    Q Right. But one of the people being eavesdropped on is on domestic soil.

    MR. McCLELLAN: I think it leaves an inaccurate impression with the American people to say that this is domestic spying.

    Q Why is that inaccurate?

    MR. McCLELLAN: For the reasons that General Hayden has said, for the reasons that others have said within the administration, and for the example I just provided to you. You don't call a flight from New York to somewhere in Afghanistan, a domestic flight. It's called an international flight.

    Q Right, but --

    MR. McCLELLAN: This is international communications that are being monitored --

    Q But whatever -- it's David's point, too -- I mean, whatever you call it in your trying to call it -- someone domestically --

    MR. McCLELLAN: It's what it is.

    Q -- is being spied on. Someone's communications --

    MR. McCLELLAN: It is what it is.

    Q -- on domestic soil are being tracked.

    MR. McCLELLAN: If there is an al Qaeda person operating inside the United States and talking to someone outside the United States, you bet we want to know what they're saying.

    Q An al Qaeda person inside the United States --

    MR. McCLELLAN: Could be outside the United States talking to someone inside the United States, too.

    Q But the person inside the United States, there has to be a reasonable basis that they are connected --

    MR. McCLELLAN: Look, if some want to try to defend it and say that it is domestic spying, they're leaving the American people with an inaccurate impression, just like they would be if they called an international call a domestic call.

    Q But, Scott, you're arguing that --

    MR. McCLELLAN: No, you're arguing.

    Q -- somebody on domestic soil is not being spied on?

    MR. McCLELLAN: No, I didn't say --

    Q That's part of it.

    MR. McCLELLAN: No, I didn't say that at all. In fact, we have been very clear and precise in what we have said, to try to make sure it is accurately reflected to the American people. And I would hope that everybody would do their best to make sure that it is accurately reflected to the American people. I don't think it is when someone puts up on the screen "domestic spying." I think that leaves an inaccurate impression that this is spying on people that are talking about an upcoming PTA meeting within their hometown. And that's --

    Q That raises a whole -- an issue, because it involves people on domestic soil.

    MR. McCLELLAN: That's not what it is.

    Q That's not why it's become an issue?

    And, just in case you still don't GET IT, here's some handy definitions the White House has put out for us all:
    DEFINITION: Domestic Vs. International.

  • Domestic Calls are calls inside the United States. International Calls are calls either to or from the United States.
  • Domestic Flights are flights from one American city to another. International Flights are flights to or from the United States.
  • Domestic Mail consists of letters and packages sent within the United States. International Mail consists of letters and packages sent to or from the United States.
  • Domestic Commerce involves business within the United States. International Commerce involves business between the United States and other countries.
  • And, here is my handy-dandy definition for the day:

  • Domestic Idiot is someone who can not catch an International Terrorist after four and a half years.


  • ______________________________________
    UPDATE: Yes, I heard this story tonight on Countdown with Keith Olbermann

    BOTH POLITICAL JUNKIES ON KDKA TONIGHT

    That's right, gang.

    BOTH Political Junkies will be on the Temporary John McIntire show tonight at 11pm on KDKARadio.

    So if you want to hear the voices that go with the blogging, tune in. And if you're not on the eastern seaboard (KDKA is an immensely powerful AM station that broadcasts across much of the eastern half of the US), they also stream live on the web.

    IMPEACH (yea, we may be discussing the "I-word" tonight!)

    Bob Casey (PA-DINO) Endorses Alito

    On the very day in which EVERY DEMOCRAT on the Senate Judiciary Committee voted "NO" on endorsing Judge Samuel Alito's confirmation to the Supreme Court, Bob Casey announced that he endorses Alito.

    On the very day in which the Pittsburgh City Council unanimously agreed to ask PA's two Republican Senators (Specter and Santorum) to vote against Alito, Bob Casey announced that he endorses Alito.

    All of you who only care about getting rid of Santorum no matter how Santorum-like (Lite?) the person is who you would support in his place want to explain to me again why I should support Casey???

    From the Times Leader:
    Casey announces endorsement of Alito

    KIMBERLY HEFLING
    Associated Press

    WASHINGTON - Sen. Rick Santorum's leading Democratic challenger, Pennsylvania Treasurer Bob Casey, announced Tuesday that he endorses Judge Samuel Alito's confirmation to the Supreme Court.

    For weeks, Republicans have called Casey "Silent Bob" and pressed him to say whether he supports Alito's confirmation. Casey and Alito have a family connection because Alito, who serves on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals based in Philadelphia, sided with Casey's father, the late Gov. Bob Casey, in Planned Parenthood v. Casey. The case challenged a state law requiring women seeking abortions to notify their spouses.
    Everyone who claims that Casey is so friggin' good for labor might want to reflect again how he will vote on an issue or person if it's in any way tied to some pro-fetal activity:
    I do not agree with everything that Judge Samuel Alito has done or said - particularly many of his rulings which too often result in corporate power prevailing over the interests of consumers and workers," Casey said in a statement. "However, I agree with The Philadelphia Inquirer and Washington Post editorial boards that the arguments against Judge Alito do not rise to the level that would require a vote denying him a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court."

    Remember:

    When it counts, Casey is just another Republican clone.

    January 24, 2006

    Just what the world needs: another Bush

    From WAOW:
    OTTAWA (AP) -- Stephen Harper says Canadians have "voted for change" and he says his Conservative Party will "take the lead in delivering that change."

    Harper made the promise in front of some two-thousand cheering supporters at his campaign headquarters in Calgary after Conservatives ended 13 years of Liberal rule.

    The Conservatives won't win enough seats to rule outright and will probably be forced into a coalition. That would make it harder to get legislation through Canada's House of Commons.

    The results are expected to improve Canada's ties with the U-S since Harper's ideology is more in tune with that of President Bush.

    Harper has promised to tighten security along the border with the U-S in an effort to prevent terrorists and guns from crossing.

    Hmmm. I wonder if my friends who are considering moving to Canada may now change their minds...

    Why I'm glad that we're not named "Z Political Junkies"

    The 2005 Koufax Awards nominees for "Most Deserving of Wider Recognition" are up at Wampum.

    You can't cast a vote just yet, but you can be certain that I'll post here when you can.

    Why Bush is on the Road

    From the American Research Group:

    Bush Job Approval Ratings (1/22/06)
    Approve Overall: 36%

    Disapprove Overall: 58%
    Undecided: 6%

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

    USA TODAY/CNN/Gallup Poll:

    51% of Americans say the administration was wrong to intercept conversations without a warrant.

    58% of Americans support appointment of a special prosecutor to investigate the issue.


    (Poll of 1,006 adults was taken Friday through Sunday and has a margin of error of +/—3 percentage points.)

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

    President Bush Reviewing the US Constitution:

    New Kitty Blogging

    This is my new cat, Joey:



    Some dirtbags moved and left Joey behind. Some nice people took him in, but they already had four cats and could not keep him.

    A careful look at Joey will reveal that one of his eyes has a misshaped pupil that does not dilate properly -- otherwise, he's purrfect -- that is, if you don't ask Clio for her opinion.



    Joey is an unfixed male. That will soon be taken care of and then he can run for office as a Democrat.

    January 22, 2006

    Jack Kelly - He's at it again.

    Oh. My. God.

    That's the only way to describe the length and breadth of spin and outright dishonesty found in today's column by "National Security Correspondent" Jack Kelly.

    I will do my best to point out the deceptions point-by-point. He starts out with this:
    In an audiotape broadcast Thursday on al Jazeera, Osama bin Laden said al-Qaida is preparing to strike the United States again.

    Last month Italian authorities arrested three Algerians with al-Qaida connections. They were plotting attacks on ships, railway stations and stadiums in the United States, said Interior Minister Giuseppe Pisanu.

    Some Democrats think President Bush should be impeached for trying to keep them from succeeding.
    First off, there are so many subtle insinuations to that last sentence that I barely know where to begin. The calls for impeachment are to stop Bush from stopping terrorism? Am I going too far a field to wonder whether in Commando Kelly's mind, he thinks that anyone who protests the administration's assault on the rule of law is helping out the terrorists? This is just too silly to contemplate. How long until the subtle covert accusations become loud and overt? Here, I'll start:
    Anyone criticizing Bush and/or the war on terror is doing nothing but helping the terrorists and anyone who helps the terrorists should be locked up as a traitor.
    But what of those three Algerians? Turns out that they are members of a group called GSPC. It's a terrorist which aims to overthrow the Algerian government. Recently it's expanded its terrorism to Europe. So no doubt these are nasty guys. But Kelly, by placing one sentence after the other, implies that the plans that bin laden describes are the plans that the three Algerians were arrested for. Is this true or is it another post hoc fallacy? Kelly is hoping you see the connection that he doesn't offer any real evidence for. Is Osama bin laden no longer using al-qaeda to attack the United States? Is he now directing the GSPC to do his dirty work? Kelly doesn't say.

    But the implication is there. Bin laden says there are plans, these guys "with al-qaeda connections" were arrested while plotting, so therefore the GSPC plots must've been the plans that bin laden was talking about! And if only the traitorous Democrats would stop hounding Bush, he'd be able to win this war!

    In any event, this is not Kelly's main argument - it's just the insulting teaser. Take a look at the next paragraph:
    In a speech Monday remarkable (even for him) for its bombast and hypocrisy, former Vice President Al Gore accused the president of having violated the law when he authorized the National Security Agency to listen in, without warrants, on conversations between al-Qaida suspects abroad and people in the United States.
    Notice Kelly's description of the NSA program. It is to "listen in, without warrants, on conversations between al-Qaida suspects abroad and people in the United States."

    Notice he used the word "people" and not the phrase "American citizens" or "U.S. persons" (the legal term). "People" can be anyone, from your Aunt Bertha to Charles Manson to the guy running across the Arizona desert from Mexico. Again, Kelly's spinning the program just a little to make it into something it's not.

    In any event, the accusation is correct. Bush did violate the law when he authorized the NSA to listen in. But Kelly is just setting us up for another Clinton attack (you know, I used to count how many paragraphs it took Kelly to blame it all on Bill Clinton. In some columns Clinton never surfaces, this one only takes six paragraphs for it to happen). Here it is:
    "A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government," Mr. Gore declared.

    I don't recall him uttering such sentiments when President Clinton committed perjury.

    Those were just "lies about sex." But I also don't recall Mr. Gore complaining about Echelon, a much broader electronic intercept program begun in the Clinton administration, when we were not at war.
    And after the oblique reference to Clinton's perjury (where he was impeached for breaking the law), we get to the heart of Kelly's column: Echelon.

    Conservatives nation-wide have been playing the "Echelon card" for sometime now. Kelly even asserts that it's a program started in the Clinton Administration. But it isn't exactly what Kelly says it is. Let's take a look.

    The Echelon story from the rightwing almost always references a piece done by Steve Kroft on 60 Minutes in late February 2000. Here's a transcript. (For giggles, I want you to search for the part of the story about Margaret Newsham. She's quoted as saying that she heard Senator Strom Thurman's voice via Echelon. The piece also says she worked on the system in 1979. Message to Jack Kelly: If the system was in place in 1979, it wasn't started in the Clinton Administration.)

    Back to Echelon. Too bad that Medal of Freedom recipient and former CIA director George Tenet had this to say to Congress in April of 2000 to current CIA head Porter Goss' congressional committee:
    There have been recent allegations that the Intelligence Community through NSA has improperly directed our SIGINT capabilities against the private conversations of US persons. That is not the case.

    There is a rigorous regime of checks and balances which we—the CIA, the NSA and the FBI—scrupulously adhere to whenever the conversations of US persons are involved—directly or indirectly.

    We do not collect against US persons unless they are agents of a foreign power, as that term is defined in law. We do not target their conversations for collection in the United States unless a FISA [Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act] warrant has been obtained from the FISA court by the Justice Department. And we do not target their conversations for collection overseas unless Executive Order 12333 has been followed and the Attorney General has personally approved collection.
    Did you catch that? He said they were adhering to the FISA statues. The Other Political Junkie mentioned this in a comment about a month ago. Too bad, if Jack Kelly actually read this blog more consistently, he would have saved himself the humiliation of looking like a right-wing idiot.

    And then there's Michael V. Hayden's testimony on the same day. The Introduction:
    The National Security Agency (NSA) performs electronic surveillance to collect foreign intelligence information for the military and policymakers. As the Director of Central Intelligence noted, NSA provides valuable intelligence to U.S. government consumers on a wide range of issues of concern to all Americans, such as international terrorism, narcotics trafficking, and proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. NSA’s electronic surveillance activities are subject to strict regulation by statute1 and Executive Order2 due to the potential intrusiveness and the implications for the privacy of U.S. persons3 of these activities. NSA’s electronic surveillance activities are also subject to oversight from multiple bodies within all three branches of the government. These safeguards have ensured that NSA is operating within its legal authority.
    The "strict regulation by statute" that Hayden mentions? The FISA statute.

    Anyway, Hayden also referenced Excutive Order 12333 in 2000:
    There are certain restrictions imposed by E.O. 12333 upon all intelligence collection activities engaged in by the Executive Branch agencies. Intelligence collection must be conducted in a manner “consistent with the Constitution and applicable law and respectful of the principles upon which the United States was founded.” (Sec. 2.1). These include the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition against unreasonable searches and seizures. Intelligence collection must not be undertaken to acquire information concerning the domestic activities of U.S. persons. (Sec. 2.3(b)). The least intrusive collection techniques feasible must be used in the United States or against U.S. persons located abroad. (Sec. 2.4). Finally, agencies in the Intelligence Community are prohibited from having other parties engage in activities forbidden by the Executive Order on their behalf. (Sec. 2.12) This means that NSA can not ask another country to illegally spy on U.S. persons on our behalf, and we do not.
    Hmm. So, unless Michael Hayden and George Tenet were lying to Congress about what their respective intelligence agencies were doing with Echelon, just about everything that Jack Kelly and other conservatives said about it is false.

    But I found out this stuff in a few hours on my own. Jack Kelly has a computer (probably a better one than mine) and Internet access (again, probably faster than mine) so he should have been able to find this stuff. If he didn't bother, he's incompetent. If he did find it and omitted it from his column, he's as dishonest as the day is long.

    Which do you think it is?

    Barbara Hafer Joins Georgia Berner Against Missy Hart

    Please join Former State Treasurer Barbara Hafer for a cocktail reception with GEORGIA BERNER - Democratic Candidate for Congress

    Monday January 30
    5-7 pm
    Rivers Club, One Oxford Center, 301 Grant Street,
    Pittsburgh, PA 15219

    Host Committee:
    Heather Arnet, Terry Beggy, Miranda Berner, Yvonne Campos, Jeanne Clark, Bonnie DiCarlo, Joan Ellenbogen, Beth Hafer, Betsy Magley, Catherine Mott, Eve Picker, Heather Sage, Marilyn Sullivan, Betsy Teti

    Suggested Donation: $100/person

    For more information or to RSVP
    by phone 724-766-8025 or email jan30@georgiaberner.com

    http://www.georgiaberner.com

    Been a little busy lately..

    ...with a new kitten and some other things.

    I'll put up pictures of the kitten as soon as I get around to recharging the batteries on my camera.

    January 19, 2006

    To Every Season

    I don't know who created this:



    But I instantly recognized it as a depiction of someone blogging in the seeming wilderness about just how unbelievably awful the Bush Administration is.

    But, now, when I look at this:



    I'm beginning to think it must be a depiction of what it must be like to try to defend this unbelievably corrupt and venal Bush Administration and its Republican Kool-Aid Drinking Minions.

    So I put the question to you readers:

    Which is it?
    (Has the tide turned?)

    January 18, 2006

    Nothing to Do? Check Out These Events

    TONIGHT!

    Pittsburgh Blogfest 5: Wednesday, January 18th 2006
    The winter classic.

    WHAT: Pittsburgh Blogfest 5
    WHEN: Wednesday, January 18th, 2005, 5:30 PM to 9:30 PM and beyond!
    WHERE: Finnegan's Wake (near PNC Park, 20 General Robinson St., North Shore, 412-325-2601), in the Pub Room
    WHO: All of you bloggers, and special guest Robert Scoble!
    AND: Creating Text(iles), Inner Bitch, My Brilliant Mistakes, and Grabass.

    If you are planning on attending, please RSVP to blogfest@closkey.com ! Come meet your fellow bloggers at Finnegan's Wake. This is a purely social event; it will be utterly without agenda, structure, or redeeming value.

    _________________________________________________________

    Run, Baby, Run Happy Hour

    Are you a political junkie? Want to meet the women runnning for State Representative in Western PA? Like to dish about who's running? Interested in campaign job opportunities? Got the urge to do a little gossip gathering? Then, baby, have I got a Happy Hour for you!

    Candidates & elected officials are welcome, however there will not be an opportunity for you to make speeches. Feel free to bring any lit you have for distribution.

    when: Wed Jan 18: 5PM
    where: Mullaney's Harp & Fiddle
    neighborhood: Strip District
    it'll cost you: $no cover
    all ages
    address:
    2329 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15222, 412-642-6622

    _________________________________________________________

    Tuesday, January 24, 2005

    Pittsburgh League of Young Voters January Meeting

    What: Pittsburgh League of Young Voters January Meeting
    Where: Pittsburgh League of Young Voters Office located @ the Union Project: 801 N. Negley Ave. #5
    When: Tues. 1/24/06 @ 7pm
    Why:
    * Join one of our seven committees: Politics, Policy, Operations, Communications & Media, Information Technology, Outreach, Education & Training

    * Come find out about all of the exciting projects the League of Young Voters is working on in 2006.
    o Elections
    o Lobbying
    o Civic Education
    o Coalition Building
    o Non- Traditional Grassroots Organizing
    o Media
    o and more!!!
    * Volunteer to do voter registration at the Univ. of Pittsburgh for the District 3 Special Election!

    * FREE FOOD & REFRESHMENTS!!!

    FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT THE PITTSBURGH LEAGUE @
    412-728-2197 or pittsburgh@indyvoter.org

    _________________________________________________________

    Saturday, January 28, 2006

    Green Party “Party”

    On Saturday, January 28, 2006, there will be a Green Party “Party” to give you the opportunity to meet Titus North and Jason Phillips. The party will be from 7:00 pm to 10:00 pm at the home of Ed Bortz and Sandy Hazley. Phone for directions or information: 412-231-1581.

    In May of 2005, the Pennsylvania Dept of State recorded in Pennsylvania and in Allegheny County, increased voter registration for the Green Party and declines in voter registration for the Democrats, Republicans, and Libertarians.

    In November, Titus North, in his run for Mayor received 4% of the vote with less than $1,700 spent in campaign funds. And now, Jason Phillips is running for Pittsburgh City Council District 3 in a special election.

    Green Party of Allegheny County
    P.O. Box 6934
    Pittsburgh, PA 15212
    www.gpoac.org

    Green Party Ten Key Values:
    Grassroots Democracy, Social Justice & Equal Opportunity, Ecological Wisdom, Nonviolence, Decentralization, Community-Based Economics and Economic Justice, Feminism and Gender Equity, Respect for Diversity, Personal and Global Responsibility, Future Focus and Sustainability

    BIG FAT HYPOCRITES

    We get email

    (FYI: Keep it on the blog. I have hundreds of emails in my inbox on any given day)

    Here's a snippet from one:
    Which in turn leads me to wonder further, whether any of these things of which you complain bitterly, when done by Bush et al., would bother you at all, if only Hillary were in office doing these selfsame things to Republicans.

    Here's a hint: she already has, and I don't think you guys so much as whispered a word, when her hireling bozos Livingstone and Marceca were pawing through people's raw FBI files. You guys bull your necks over a NY Times article -- like *they* had any credibility left -- about the NSA, and you complain that you don't like the NSA dumping "raw" intelligence about honest people on the FBI (they allege), but you never complained when Hillary's goons pulled "raw" intelligence from the FBI files to cull for her amusement, information, and ultimate use. Go on, prove me wrong, document that you complained about Hillary's calling for the FBI files her guys had. You can do it -- just show me the articles, show me the quotes, scan in an old letter. Show me her justification. Anything. Anything at all.
    What the emailer seemingly fails to remember is that Hillary and Bill Clinton were investigated over "Filegate" (and everything else they ever did or said in office or supposedly did or said in office or supposedly did or said before they took office -- I'm quite certain Ken Star must have a video of a colonoscopy from one or both of them that he views nightly with some fava beans and a nice Chianti) and were cleared of all charges:
    Independent Counsel: No 'substantial and credible' evidence of Clinton involvement in 'Filegate'

    March 16, 2000
    Web posted at: 6:08 p.m. EST (2308 GMT)WASHINGTON (CNN) -- There is "no substantial and credible evidence" that President Bill Clinton and first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton sought confidential Federal Bureau of Investigation background checks of former GOP White House personnel, according to a report filed Thursday by Whitewater Independent Counsel Robert Ray's office.

    In a statement, Ray's office said that no substantial and credible exists to implicate any other senior White House official in the FBI background files controversy that came to be known as "Filegate," and that no prosecutions would be pursued. It also said prosecution was not warranted after an investigation into whether former White House Counsel Bernard Nussbaum testified falsely to Congress on the matter in 1996.

    [snip]

    The Government Reform and Oversight Committee's report, released in the autumn of 1996, reached similar conclusions, though it blasted the Clinton White House for its "cavalier approach" to security. Livingstone resigned his post soon after the scandal broke.
    So, let's see now:

  • WE HAD A DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT AND REPUBLICAN CONGRESS

  • REPUBLICANS CLAIMED THAT THE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT/FIRST LADY LOOKED AT THE RAW FBI FILES OF AMERICAN CITIZENS

  • THE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT/FIRST LADY DENIED DOING THIS

  • REPUBLICANS DEMANDED AN INVESTIGATION

  • THEIR CLAIMS ARE INVESTIGATED VIA AN INDEPENDENT COUNSEL

  • THE INDEPENDENT COUNSEL FOUND NO 'SUBSTANTIAL AND CREDIBLE EVIDENCE' OF INVOLVEMENT BY THE DEMOCRATIC PRESIDENT/FIRST LADY


  • Compare that to this:

  • WE HAVE A REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT AND REPUBLICAN CONGRESS

  • THE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT ADMITS THAT HE IS SPYING ON AMERICANS IN THIS COUNTRY WITHOUT A WARRANT AND SAYS HE WILL CONTINUE TO DO SO

  • MAJORITY OF REPUBLICANS CLAIM ANYONE WANTING AN INVESTIGATION OF THE REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT ARE "HATERS"

  • A MODERATE REPUBLICAN SAYS THE REPUBLICAN CONGRESS WILL CONDUCT AN INVESTIGATION SOMETIME...


  • BIG FAT HYPOCRITES

    All this "Plantation" rhetoric is disgusting

    Take a look.
    Setting aside the promises of Gingrich's introduction, no reasonable person could expect scholarly inquiry from a man with a history of indulging in bombastic intellectual pretension and outrageous historical analogies: Gingrich once compiled a "required reading list" for fellow members of Congress; and on the eve of his great electoral victory ten years ago, the speaker-to-be told a reporter he was leading a "slave rebellion" against the Democrats who "run the plantation." One might have expected Gingrich to grow up a bit in the years since his fall from grace. But Winning the Future suggests that he's just waiting to launch another rebellion.
    And then there's this:
    Indeed, while many conservatives cringe at the prospect of losing the homosexual vote, the fact of the matter is black America has never embraced that demographic, helping, perhaps, to explain why, while most blacks remained faithful to the Democratic Plantation, er, Party in the 2004 presidential election, the black vote for the Bush-Cheney ticket increased. Look at Ohio, where black support for Mr. Bush rose from 9 percent in 2000 to 16 percent in 2004, handing the Bush-Cheney team an outright victory over Kerry-Edwards — a feat that the we-shall-overcome crowd has yet to accept.
    And:
    NOVAK: This afternoon, President George W. Bush met with 24 prominent African-Americans, 14 members of the clergy and 10 leaders in business and nonprofit agencies. Tomorrow, the president meets with the Congressional Black Caucus, 43 members, Democrats all.

    It's good for the Republican president to sit down with the black lawmakers, though I'll doubt he'll make much progress with them. But today's meeting with black nonpoliticians may be another matter. The black reverend clergy are particularly attracted to the Bush faith- based aid programs. That terrifies Democratic politicians.

    Where would the Democrats be if they're not picking up around 90 percent of the black vote? What if black voters started moving off the Democratic plantation?
    And this:
    Hispanics for Jorge

    Another immigrant group wanders off the Democratic plantation.
    And this:
    The Democrat Party touts itself as the party of inclusion. Yet it practices the worst kind of racism. The Democrats believe that minorities are not smart enough to think for themselves. If minorities are not on the plantation – if they dare to express any thoughts that are not straight Democrat party line – they are savagely attacked by the Democrats. Quite simply, the Democrat Party in this country thinks it owns the minorities.
    Etcetera, etcetera and so on...

    IMPEACH

    January 17, 2006

    More Bush Deceptions about the NSA surveillance

    Via the dailykos, I found this article in the New York Times.

    It points out even more lies from the Bush Junta. On the one hand, our glorious leader has said that the NSA surveillance is "limited" but IN REALITY, the NSA has scooped up thousands of leads - so many leads, it seems, that the FBI investigators charged with following up on those leads were often overwhelmed by the numbers of them.

    The Vice President (of torture) has said that the program has saved "thousands of lives" but IN REALITY the picture is vastly different.

    But here's how the article begins:
    In the anxious months after the Sept. 11 attacks, the National Security Agency began sending a steady stream of telephone numbers, e-mail addresses and names to the F.B.I. in search of terrorists. The stream soon became a flood, requiring hundreds of agents to check out thousands of tips a month.

    But virtually all of them, current and former officials say, led to dead ends or innocent Americans.
    Hmm. Information collected about innocent Americans - what happened ot this information? Is it still in a government database somewhere?
    F.B.I. officials repeatedly complained to the spy agency that the unfiltered information was swamping investigators. The spy agency was collecting much of the data by eavesdropping on some Americans' international communications and conducting computer searches of phone and Internet traffic. Some F.B.I. officials and prosecutors also thought the checks, which sometimes involved interviews by agents, were pointless intrusions on Americans' privacy.

    As the bureau was running down those leads, its director, Robert S. Mueller III, raised concerns about the legal rationale for a program of eavesdropping without warrants, one government official said. Mr. Mueller asked senior administration officials about "whether the program had a proper legal foundation," but deferred to Justice Department legal opinions, the official said.Hmm.
    I wonder if these "legal opinions" were written by the same political appointees who Ok'd the use of torture?

    The bottom line is this: the NSA scooped up massive amounts of information on American citizens and then passed that information to a skeptical FBI who then investigated those leads - and virtually all of them were dead ends or innocent citizens.

    And all this was done without warrants but with the OK of the president of the United States of America.

    So not only is the program illegal but also it's a huge waste of time.

    Do I really need to say it?

    Yea, I guess I do.

    IMPEACH

    ANTI ALITO RALLY IN PGH TODAY!

    Imagine a world where Samuel Alito had the final say about our civil liberties:

  • Any Pittsburgh woman planning to terminate an unwanted pregnancy would have to report to her husband first, even if that put her at risk for abuse.

  • Citizens concerned about the environment would have limited access to the courts, and a harder time protecting the Allegheny National Forest.

  • Minorities, people with disabilities, and workers would face a scary uphill battle protecting their health, safety and their jobs.


  • The case against Judge Samuel Alito is overwhelming. He should not be confirmed to the Supreme Court. Samuel Alito has not shown himself to be a protector of the rights and freedoms Americans hold dear. Please join with groups protecting civil rights at 9:15 AM on Tuesday, January 17th, to make a stand for justice. We will rally on the steps of the City Council building, gather petition signatures, and then march over to Senator Specter's office to hand-deliver him the more than 50,000 signatures of concerned Pennsylvanians who oppose the confirmation of Samuel Alito.

    Where: City Council
    510 City - County Building
    414 Grant St.
    Pittsburgh, PA 15219)

    When: Tuesday, Janauary 17th, 9:15 a.m.

    After the rally and petition gathering, we will march on to
    Specter's office to deliver over 50,000 signatures opposing Alito:

    Regional Enterprise Tower (old Alcoa Building)
    425 Sixth Avenue, Suite 1450
    Pittsburgh, PA 15219

    This coalition includes:
    Planned Parenthood
    Sierra Club
    National Organization for Women
    Retired Steel Workers of America
    National Council of Jewish Women
    Thomas Merton Center
    Alliance For Justice
    Steel-City Stonewall Democrats
    Democracy for Pittsburgh
    And many more!

    For more information or to volunteer to help with petitions, contact Jodi Hirsch at: jhirsh@ppwp.org

    A Real Patriot Speaks

    At present, we still have much to learn about the NSA's domestic surveillance. What we do know about this pervasive wiretapping virtually compels the conclusion that the President of the United States has been breaking the law repeatedly and persistently.

    A president who breaks the law is a threat to the very structure of our government. Our Founding Fathers were adamant that they had established a government of laws and not men. Indeed, they recognized that the structure of government they had enshrined in our Constitution - our system of checks and balances - was designed with a central purpose of ensuring that it would govern through the rule of law. As John Adams said: "The executive shall never exercise the legislative and judicial powers, or either of them, to the end that it may be a government of laws and not of men."

    An executive who arrogates to himself the power to ignore the legitimate legislative directives of the Congress or to act free of the check of the judiciary becomes the central threat that the Founders sought to nullify in the Constitution - an all-powerful executive too reminiscent of the King from whom they had broken free. In the words of James Madison, "the accumulation of all powers, legislative, executive, and judiciary, in the same hands, whether of one, a few, or many, and whether hereditary, self-appointed, or elective, may justly be pronounced the very definition of tyranny."

    [snip]

    Last week, for example, Vice President Cheney attempted to defend the Administration's eavesdropping on American citizens by saying that if it had conducted this program prior to 9/11, they would have found out the names of some of the hijackers.

    Tragically, he apparently still doesn't know that the Administration did in fact have the names of at least 2 of the hijackers well before 9/11 and had available to them information that could have easily led to the identification of most of the other hijackers. And yet, because of incompetence in the handling of this information, it was never used to protect the American people.

    [snip]

    In the United States Senate, which used to pride itself on being the "greatest deliberative body in the world," meaningful debate is now a rarity. Even on the eve of the fateful vote to authorize the invasion of Iraq, Senator Robert Byrd famously asked: "Why is this chamber empty?"

    [snip]

    I call upon Democratic and Republican members of Congress today to uphold your oath of office and defend the Constitution. Stop going along to get along. Start acting like the independent and co-equal branch of government you're supposed to be.

    But there is yet another Constitutional player whose pulse must be taken and whose role must be examined in order to understand the dangerous imbalance that has emerged with the efforts by the Executive Branch to dominate our constitutional system.

    We the people are-collectively-still the key to the survival of America's democracy. We-as Lincoln put it, "[e]ven we here"-must examine our own role as citizens in allowing and not preventing the shocking decay and degradation of our democracy.

    Thomas Jefferson said: "An informed citizenry is the only true repository of the public will."

    The revolutionary departure on which the idea of America was based was the audacious belief that people can govern themselves and responsibly exercise the ultimate authority in self-government. This insight proceeded inevitably from the bedrock principle articulated by the Enlightenment philosopher John Locke: "All just power is derived from the consent of the governed."

    [snip]

    One of the other ways the Administration has tried to control the flow of information is by consistently resorting to the language and politics of fear in order to short-circuit the debate and drive its agenda forward without regard to the evidence or the public interest. As President Eisenhower said, "Any who act as if freedom's defenses are to be found in suppression and suspicion and fear confess a doctrine that is alien to America."

    Fear drives out reason. Fear suppresses the politics of discourse and opens the door to the politics of destruction. Justice Brandeis once wrote: "Men feared witches and burnt women."

    The founders of our country faced dire threats. If they failed in their endeavors, they would have been hung as traitors. The very existence of our country was at risk.

    Yet, in the teeth of those dangers, they insisted on establishing the Bill of Rights.Is our Congress today in more danger than were their predecessors when the British army was marching on the Capitol?

    Is the world more dangerous than when we faced an ideological enemy with tens of thousands of missiles poised to be launched against us and annihilate our country at a moment's notice? Is America in more danger now than when we faced worldwide fascism on the march-when our fathers fought and won two World Wars simultaneously?

    It is simply an insult to those who came before us and sacrificed so much on our behalf to imply that we have more to be fearful of than they. Yet they faithfully protected our freedoms and now it is up to us to do the same.

    We have a duty as Americans to defend our citizens' right not only to life but also to liberty and the pursuit of happiness. It is therefore vital in our current circumstances that immediate steps be taken to safeguard our Constitution against the present danger posed by the intrusive overreaching on the part of the Executive Branch and the President's apparent belief that he need not live under the rule of law.

    (Full speech text here. Read it or watch it here!)

    Gore Calls For Appointment of Special Prosecuter on Spying

    Five point recommendation from Gore's speech:
    A special counsel should immediately be appointed by the Attorney General to remedy the obvious conflict of interest that prevents him from investigating what many believe are serious violations of law by the President. We have had a fresh demonstration of how an independent investigation by a special counsel with integrity can rebuild confidence in our system of justice. Patrick Fitzgerald has, by all accounts, shown neither fear nor favor in pursuing allegations that the Executive Branch has violated other laws.

    Republican as well as Democratic members of Congress should support the bipartisan call of the Liberty Coalition for the appointment of a special counsel to pursue the criminal issues raised by warrantless wiretapping of Americans by the President.

    Second, new whistleblower protections should immediately be established for members of the Executive Branch who report evidence of wrongdoing -- especially where it involves the abuse of Executive Branch authority in the sensitive areas of national security.

    Third, both Houses of Congress should hold comprehensive-and not just superficial-hearings into these serious allegations of criminal behavior on the part of the President. And, they should follow the evidence wherever it leads.

    Fourth, the extensive new powers requested by the Executive Branch in its proposal to extend and enlarge the Patriot Act should, under no circumstances be granted, unless and until there are adequate and enforceable safeguards to protect the Constitution and the rights of the American people against the kinds of abuses that have so recently been revealed.

    Fifth, any telecommunications company that has provided the government with access to private information concerning the communications of Americans without a proper warrant should immediately cease and desist their complicity in this apparently illegal invasion of the privacy of American citizens.

    (Full speech text here. Read it or watch it here!)

    Gore on MLK, Jr.

    As Dr. King once said, "Perhaps a new spirit is rising among us. If it is, let us trace its movements and pray that our own inner being may be sensitive to its guidance, for we are deeply in need of a new way beyond the darkness that seems so close around us."


    (Full speech text here. Read it or watch it here!)

    January 16, 2006

    Lead Editorial in today's P-G

    Here it is:
    It would be amusing to watch Sen. Rick Santorum lash around to the left and right as he tries to redefine himself for the voters as the November elections approach, except that sometimes he comes up with something truly ridiculous.

    In a speech Thursday to students at Valley Forge Military Academy and College outside Philadelphia, the Pennsylvania Republican really went off the deep end, attacking the media -- we assume modestly that he included us -- for drawing the public's attention to the deaths of American servicemen and -women in Iraq. To focus attention on the "tragic consequences" of the war, he said, was "helping Islamic fascism win the battle."

    We would answer Sen. Santorum in two ways. First of all, the Post-Gazette's coverage of the Iraq war seeks to be as broad and as comprehensive as space permits. We write factually about the progress of the war, including full coverage of the elections there; efforts to form a democratic, inclusive government of the different Iraqi political and religious factions; and American cooperation with Iraqi police and military units that is meant to establish the level of security that will permit U.S. troops to be withdrawn.

    We write about the speeches of President Bush and other members of his administration that seek to provide a positive interpretation of what is occurring in Iraq, alongside interpretative evaluation of developments there.

    For Sen. Santorum to suggest that we and other American media should not report about the tragic loss of American lives -- a death toll that now stands above 2,200 -- is to sell our readers short and to suggest that they do not need to know, nor do they want to know, how many brave Americans are dying there.

    It is to say that they are either immature -- fragile souls who need to be protected from such information -- or that they don't care, which everyone knows is not the case. For Sen. Santorum to cite national security and the claim that knowledge of U.S. losses might encourage America's enemies, as reasons for not telling the public the truth, is insulting to the American people.

    Mr. Santorum's other campaign-season gyrations -- his participation in the Justice Sunday III rally with the far right's culture warriors, his ending of affiliation with a key defender of intelligent design after staunchly supporting the concept and his call for a nonpartisan panel to assess the Iraq situation while echoing the administration's fierce defense of the war -- are bad enough.

    Telling Americans that they shouldn't be told how many are dying in Iraq is way too much, even for Mr. Santorum.
    Can't say I disagree with this all that much.

    IMPEACH