We are the 99%

May 31, 2006

The P-G gets it way wrong on Senator Reid.

Usually, I'm a big fan of the Post-Gazette's editorial page. But I gotta be honest. They really stepped in it with today's editorial on Senator Harry Reid.

First, here's the editorial. It begins thusly:
Explaining that he's "not Goody Two-Shoes," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid used a loophole in Senate ethics rules to snap up thousands of dollars worth of ringside boxing match tickets that the Nevada Athletic Commission handed to him.
Looks bad, huh? The story comes from the AP's John Solomon. He wrote:
Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid accepted free ringside tickets from the Nevada Athletic Commission to three professional boxing matches while that state agency was trying to influence him on federal regulation of boxing.

Reid, D-Nev., took the free seats for Las Vegas fights between 2003 and 2005 as he was pressing legislation to increase government oversight of the sport, including the creation of a federal boxing commission that Nevada's agency feared might usurp its authority.
The only problem with Solomon's article is that he didn't show that the Nevada Athletic Commission actually influenced Reid's vote.

By the way, Mediamatters.org has a good piece on Solomon's coverage of Senator Reid. The P-G probably should have read it before writing the editorial. Oh well, you live and learn.

In any case, Senator Reid continued to push for a federal boxing commission - inspite of the boxing matches. Something the P-G editorial omitted telling us.

Oops.

The editorial did mention that:
While technically the ethics rules may allow senators to accept infinite gifts from governments, the code also says they must avoid the appearance of impropriety. When Mr. Not-Goody-Two-Shoes Reid repeatedly took high-value presents from a group intent on influencing him, it appeared shady to most Americans who don't want the rich and powerful, whether they're corporations or government agencies, to be able to buy the attention of politicians -- who, theoretically, are representatives of the people.
Whah? So no Senate rules were broken? Huh - interesting. But wait, what does Reid himself say happened? Isn't that important? Take a look at this from the Las Vegas Review-Journal:
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid said Tuesday his free attendance at boxing matches was necessary for him to understand boxing regulations and represent Nevada's interests.
And:
Reid said he represented the athletic commission and its interests in Washington, D.C., as part of his representation of the state. While Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., paid $1,400 for his seats at a fight he attended with Reid, Reid said he didn't pay because he was in his home state, researching the interests of a part of his constituency.

"Senator McCain is from Arizona. He's not supposed to get free tickets in the state of Nevada," Reid said. "He came here to watch the fight. I came to work for the state of Nevada and to watch the fight. If I were going to a fight with John McCain in Arizona ... I would pay for my ticket."
Hmm. It may be bs but it's also something else the P-G editorial didn't bother to tell us.

Oops, again.

But the story gets interestinger and interestinger. Take a look down at the end of the piece from the Review-Journal:
Marc Ratner, who was the executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission at the time, told The Associated Press he invited Reid and McCain to a September 2004 bout between Bernard Hopkins and Oscar de la Hoya in part because he wanted to convince them that the state's regulation was sufficient and federal regulation wasn't needed.

Reid said Tuesday he "took care of" Ratner's concerns but didn't drop his push for federal oversight.

Ratner said Tuesday the seats Reid and McCain got weren't tickets available to the general public but "credentials" the commission gives only to public officials hoping to observe the commission's activity.
[emphasis added]
So he was there officially! The executive director of the NAC is quoted as saying so.

But, you might ask, what about all those other fights described in Solomon's story? Glad you asked. Take a look at this (it's from the same piece in the Review-Journal):
Boxing promoter Bob Arum said Reid and McCain also sat in ticketed seating at about three matches each but paid for their tickets "invariably." Arum said McCain and Reid's seats at the Hopkins-de la Hoya fight, on the other hand, were credentials from the commission, not tickets from Arum. But McCain, who brought his wife to the fight, sent Arum a check for the price of two ringside seats.

Arum said he didn't know what to do with the money.

"Those credentials cannot be sold," he said. "There's no price on them. (They are given to) governors, attorney generals, boxing commissioners of other states. ... It's illegal to accept money for a credential."

Arum said he couldn't accept McCain's money but McCain wouldn't take it back, so Arum donated it to Catholic Charities. [emphasis added].
So the times he sat ringside, he invariably paid for the tickets and the time he got in with one of those "credentials," he was there observing in an official capacity of some sort. Again, facts the P-G editorial missed or omitted.

Oops, again and again.

But what did the P-G write? Do you remember? Here, I'll reprint it the first paragraph:
Explaining that he's "not Goody Two-Shoes," Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid used a loophole in Senate ethics rules to snap up thousands of dollars worth of ringside boxing match tickets that the Nevada Athletic Commission handed to him.[emphasis added]
And based on what I've been able to find out in a few minutes, how much of that sentence is actually, uh, true? And if it's not true, then what are we to make of the argument about Reid's ethics that it's based on? We can't possibly believe it's valid, can we?

For the cherry on top of the sundae the editorial ended with this:
Of all senators, leaders like Mr. Reid should understand that they do need to be "Goody Two-Shoes" when it comes to ethics. Mr. Reid needs to reimburse the Nevada Athletic Commission -- and then get to work closing loopholes in those Senate ethics rules.

If he can't, he needs to put on his no-good shoes, walk back to Nevada and stay there. [emphasis added]
Since I can't imagine the P-G would actually recommend an illegal act to a member of the US Senate, I have to assume that they just didn't do their homework on this one.

Hey, if they need a fact checker over there at the P-G, I'm available.

May 30, 2006

What I saw on local TV last week

1. "It's not about you, it's about your district"


At Wednesday's Pittsburgh City Council meeting, a resident of Council District 9 who I think identified himself as "JT" had the following to say to Councilwoman Twanda Carlisle during the public comments section of the meeting:
A council person has a duty to maintain the integrity of their district, of their office and themselves. We are tragically at an impasse where some say you have forfeited the right to hold office. If nothing else, your community deserves to hear what needs to be said. It's not about you, it's about your district.
2. Diana Irey: Pretty Vacant


Diana Irey who is running against Congressman John Murtha, appeared on Honsberger Live and continued her opportunistic Swiftboating of Murtha. Her apparent objection to Murtha's comments about the civilian massacre in Haditha, Iraq is that he is harming the Marines right to due process and the right to be considered innocent until proven guilty by a court of law. It must be noted that at no time has Murtha mentioned any Marine by name. So according to Irey's (and Fred's) logic, one cannot say JFK was assassinated nor that Nicole Simpson was murdered since no one was ever found guilty by a jury in either case.

Oh yeah, she also said that Murtha is being "helpful to terrorist activities."

What a fucking bitch.

3. Mike Pintek: BIGOT


Mike Pintek was the host for Fridays' Get To The Point show on PCNC. During the discussion of a public restroom in South Park being listed on the Internet as a hot spot for gay men to meet, Pintek repeatedly used the word "homo." The show's panel of guests looked appalled at the use of that word, but sadly, none of them actually voiced an objection.

4. "Hey you damn Democratic Casey Operatives, get off my lawn!"


Seen all week: Santorum's lawn.
Heard all week: Crazy Ol' Man Santorum losing his mind.

Some audio of a hysterical Tricky Ricky here.

Last chance for cheap tickets!



Thursday
June 8, 2006
6 to 9 p.m.

The Andy Warhol Museum
117 Sandusky Street
Pittsburgh, PA 15212-5890

Planned Parenthood Western Pennsylvania Action Fund's (PPWPAF) now famous event, Stiff Competition, will take place at The Andy Warhol Museum.

Stiff Competition is PPWPAF's annual event to raise awareness of, interest in and money for the its efforts to support and ensure safe and available reproductive health care and education. Artworks created for the Stiff Competition FIRMbeliefs contest will be featured in an exhibition at The Andy Warhol Museum and auctioned off to raise funds and awareness for PPWPAF. A panel of judges will select a winner in each theme category and an overall winner.

Stiff Competition accounts for 70% of PPWPAF's annual budget. Thanks to the Bush Administrations' constant assault on women's reproductive health and safety and rights both here and abroad, organizations like PPWPAF are more necessary than ever before. PPWPAF exists exclusively on private donations from people like you! In addition to a silent auction of luxury items, all of the submitted, judged artwork will be auctioned to guests.

You can still purchase tickets at a reduced price ($15) if you purchase them before June 1st.


PURCHASE TICKETS NOW HERE!


Or, click on the ad at the top of the left navigational bar.

Bush's Words of Contrition on Iraq Rehearsed and FAKE

At a press conference with Tony Blair on Thursday, Bush seemed unusually reflective and humble:
Q. Mr. President, you spoke about missteps and mistakes in Iraq. Could I ask both of you which missteps and mistakes of your own you most regret?

PRESIDENT BUSH: Sounds like kind of a familiar refrain here -- saying "bring it on," kind of tough talk, you know, that sent the wrong signal to people. I learned some lessons about expressing myself maybe in a little more sophisticated manner -- you know, "wanted dead or alive," that kind of talk. I think in certain parts of the world it was misinterpreted, and so I learned from that. And I think the biggest mistake that's happened so far, at least from our country's involvement in Iraq is Abu Ghraib. We've been paying for that for a long period of time. And it's -- unlike Iraq, however, under Saddam, the people who committed those acts were brought to justice. They've been given a fair trial and tried and convicted.
However, as this Reuters article from Sunday notes, don't expect a change in policy:
Bush adopts humility on Iraq; policy unchanged

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President George W. Bush, beset by public doubts about his leadership, has opted for a more humble tone in discussing the Iraq war, including admitting mistakes, as a way to rebuild his credibility, analysts said on Friday.

Bush's shift in attitude during a Thursday news conference with British Prime Minister Tony Blair was an indication he understands the depth of public discontent with the war and the criticism that he is too stubborn to adjust his policies, they said.

Bush's change in tone did not signal a change in policies, however. He and Blair refused to set a timetable for withdrawing troops and Bush said conditions on the ground would dictate future decisions about troop levels and commitments in Iraq.
Almost as bad, the snarky smirk that Bush flashed to the reporters after his moment of "humbleness" shows his words in no way reflects his true feelings.

From Crooks & Liars (includes video):
Richard Wolffe from Newsweek, joined Keith Olbermann and says that Bush's more realistic tone and mannerisms seemed rehearsed.

Wolffe: ...And for me the big giveaway was at the end of that answer, I don't know if you can see it on camera, but the President flashed a big grin to those of us sitting in the front rows. It didn't seem that he was quite as contrite as his performance.

Additional reserve troops sent into Iraq to help with soaring violence

From the NYT:
WASHINGTON, May 29 — The top American commander in Iraq has decided to move reserve troops now deployed in Kuwait into the volatile Anbar Province in western Iraq to help quell a rise in insurgent attacks there, two American officials said Monday.

[snip]

The confirmation that the number of American forces in Iraq would grow came on a day of soaring violence in Baghdad. Two Britons working as members of a CBS News television crew were killed on Monday and an American correspondent for the network was critically wounded when a military patrol they were accompanying was hit by a roadside bomb. [Page A10.]

The movement of the brigade comes as several senior American officials in Iraq have begun to raise doubts about whether security conditions there will permit significant troop reductions in coming months.

[snip]

At least some of the troops are likely to be sent to the city of Ramadi, where a Pennsylvania National Guard brigade that has been trying to quell a surge in violence in the city along with Marine units is scheduled to rotate out this month.

Several senior officers in Ramadi have said in recent interviews that they are engaged in almost daily combat and that Al Qaeda has been recruiting local residents to carry out assassinations of local sheiks and officials who cooperate with American forces.
We've turned a corner...the next six months...blah, blah, blah...

May 29, 2006

The Last Full Measure of Devotion



Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall, 4141 Fifth Ave., will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with special stations giving visitors a more engaging and interactive look at the exhibits. More info here.


(Hat Tip to Ol' Froth for the photo.)

May 26, 2006

(some) city council members have posted their budget details online today

As promised here, Councilman Bill Peduto, Council President Luke Ravenstahl, Councilman Doug Shields and Councilman Daniel Deasy have put their budgets up on the Pittsburgh City Council website today.

A link to a .PDF file can be found on each of their district pages.

A cursory glance of the documents reveals that they've all used different formats and varying levels of detail.

Enjoy?

Santorums Confirm It: No Furniture Inside Their Penn Hills House

...by their own actions

The Santorums say that they fear that there have been prowlers at their Penn Hills "home" because someone said that there was no furniture inside that "home."

Santorum's attack ad said:

According to a KDKA investigative report, a Casey operative admitted to trespassing at the Santorum’s home in Penn Hills. Peering into the windows looking for campaign dirt.
But it has been confirmed by KDKA that no one has admitted to trespassing.

So doesn't it logically follow that for the Santorums to believe that there were prowlers, they must admit that that their "home" had no furniture in it?

After all, if there was furniture there, the prowlers would have seen it, right? There would have been no claims of an empty house.

The only reason that the Santorums could have made a legitimate claim to having prowlers is if the prowlers revealed something true about their home (lack of furniture). Otherwise, if someone just said that there was no furniture in their home, and there was furniture in the home, you would just say someone is lying -- you wouldn't assume someone had gone to all the effort to trespass and then make up stories about what they had seen when they trespassed.

You wouldn't claim there were prowlers unless you had some proof of prowling and the only proof is that the prowlers knew what was inside your "home."

Capisce?

Even The Post Office Knows Santorum Doesn't Live in Penn Hills

An editorial in today's P-G starts this way:
Before every election, the Post-Gazette routinely sends letters to the candidates seeking material for the Voters Guide. Back in March, as part of that process for the primary, the newspaper sent a letter to Rick Santorum at his home address, at least the one that he claims. Back from Penn Hills came the letter with a sticker from the U.S. Postal Service checked as "Not Deliverable As Addressed -- Unable To Forward."

That is all you need to know about the nasty dispute between the Republican Sen. Santorum and his Democratic opponent, Bob Casey Jr., in the November election. The whole thing is rooted in one inconvenient fact for Sen. Santorum: He doesn't live here anymore. [italics in original]
Although I think the P-G was a little messy in that second paragraph. The dispute is not really between Santorum and Casey on this. The thing was churned up by Ed and Erin Vecchio, two democrats in Penn Hills. It is good to see the P-G going on record with a few things:
...Ed and Erin Vecchio, tried to revive the residency issue on primary election day, which was covered by a subsequent KDKA-TV report. A radio ad for Sen. Santorum flagrantly distorts that report...
I would have gone with "lied about" instead of "flagrantly distorts" but that's just me.

Towards the end, the P-G gets to the next phase of this issue:
Mr. Casey described Sen. Santorum's claims as "weird" and "bizarre." Actually, they are beyond weird and raise serious questions about the senator's ethics that go beyond the residency question.
Exactly. The issue is no longer about where Lil Ricky spends his time (he admitted on Marty Griffin's show that it's 90% in DC, by the way). Conservatives in the area (for instance, Fred Honsberger) have been droning on about how we need to "move on" to the real issues in the campaign.

Fine. Let's talk about how Rick Santorum lied in his first negative ad. Or better yet, I'll let the P-G do it:
So what we have is the senator making untrue and outrageous comments while seeking to hide behind his wife and kids in order to get around an inconvenient fact.

We have a feeling that those who do live here may have something to say about this cowardly tactic at the November polls.
Coward.

May 25, 2006

Santorum Story, the view from both sides of the state

Here's John Baer (Philly Daily News) on Lil Ricky. He's wondering why Ricky played things the way he did:
Could it be when one trails in a year primed to punish incumbents one seeks to shift attention from issues such as Iraq and support of President Bush to, oh, I don't know, charges that thugs are out to get his kids?

Could it be Santorum seeks any opportunity, however flimsy, to paint Casey in '06 as the negative campaigner he was in '02?

I'm thinking yes and yes - along with a hint of fear and just a touch of crazy.
A touch of crazy. Ha.

And here's Brian O'Neill (Post-Gazette):
One of the great non-issues of the Iraqi War Era has been the recent charge by some Penn Hills Democrats that the little home that U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum owns in a quiet neighborhood there is vacant and unfurnished.

Instead of ignoring it, the Santorums have made a federal case of it. When I drove to the house yesterday morning, two television crews were preparing for a noontime report about Capitol Police coming to make a security evaluation. The Santorum campaign Web site had the statement that a KDKA report "revealed the shocking news of a [Democratic candidate Bob] Casey campaign operative peeking into the windows of the Santorum home.''

KDKA never said that, as morning radio host Marty Griffin told Mr. Santorum in a cordial on-air conversation yesterday. The senator responded that peeking in windows was a reasonable inference when a man says there's no furniture in a house set so far back from the street.

His Web site should have said that.
Which, I guess, is a very nice way of saying, "By not telling the truth, the campaign lied." Also please note that O'Neill walked on the property and rang the doorbell. By Santorum's logic, the P-G is stalking the house - and O'Neill just admitted it! CALL THE CAPITAL POLICE!

I heard the Griffin interview yesterday and there were a few more relevations in it.
  • Ricky admitted that he spent 90% of his time in DC "Because that's where I work," he said.
  • And after "talking with his people" the decision was made to "move on" and so the ad has been pulled.
Back to Philly. Here's Tom Ferrick of the Inquirer. He begins thusly:
I've said time and again that if U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum loses reelection in November, a major reason will be the controversy surrounding his residency.

Someone else shares my view: the Santorum campaign.

It went up this week with a radio ad in Pittsburgh attacking Bob Casey for "stalking" the Santorum family by using campaign operatives to spy on his home in the Pittsburgh suburb of Penn Hills.

The allegation the ad makes is nonsense, but it is useful nonsense.
And then he goes on:
The issue resurfaced during the May 16 primary. When Santorum showed up to vote in Penn Hills, two of his longtime Democratic opponents, Ed and Erin Vecchio, took exception to it.

They said the house was vacant; ergo, he did not live in Penn Hills; ergo, he should not vote there. They threatened to file a suit over it.

Later that week, KDKA-TV did a report about Santorum complaining that someone was "stalking" his house. The report contained information that indicated the tip came from the Santorum camp.

The Santorum camp then used that report as the basis of its radio ad.
Now that's an interesting take on it.

Fennick also has a link to an excerpt of the Griffin interview here.

We all know the ad is BS and now (I guess) the ad has been pulled. But what have we learned about Ricky Santorum? It's been established that he's not above outright lying in his campaign ads - this will be something to watch in the coming months. If the first one is such a blatant lie, we shouldn't expect even an element of truthiness in anything that comes from his camp.

Nice to know this early on.

Crazy-ass Republicans and the Media Who Love Them!

First up: DeLay Hearts Stephen Colbert
Via Think Progress:

The email features a “one-pager on the truth behind Liberal Hollywood’s the Big Buy,” and the lead item is Colbert’s interview with Greenwald on Comedy Central (where Colbert plays a faux-conservative, O’Reilly-esque character). The headline of the “fact sheet”:
Hollywood Pulls Michael Moore Antics on Tom deLay
Colbert Cracks the Story on Real Motivations Behind the Movie
DeLay thinks Colbert is so persuasive, he’s now featuring the full video of the interview at the top of the legal fund’s website. And why not? According to the email, Greenwald “crashed and burned” under the pressure of Colbert’s hard-hitting questions, like “Who hates America more, you or Michael Moore?”Apparently the people at DeLay’s legal fund think that Colbert is actually a conservative. Or maybe they’re just that desperate for supporters.

Next: WAPO Goes Ape Shit for Bill Frist
Do not read if you're not into hot man-on-gorilla action
Via AmericaBlog:
"I gravitate towards insurmountable problems," Frist said, his long legs spilling between the front seats. "I try to use creative solutions." One day, he hopes to cure AIDS or cancer. He sucked on the stem of his glasses: "The typical person around here may not understand."

[snip]

He unbuttoned his business shirt, revealing jungle-pattern surgical scrubs and a pair of hairy, toned biceps.

"A little bit like Superman," said the dentist, Chuck Williams.

[snip]

He pressed his stethoscope to the gorilla's chest and narrowed his eyes. Kuja, a silverback patriarch, was breathing isofluorine. He was the Senate majority leader of the gorillas, who negotiated disputes, back-slapped the ape boys and owned exclusive mating rights with the females.

[snip]

Frist listened to the heart; the gorilla's lub-dub sounded human. "When you're this close, you feel this kind of oneness with them," Frist said. The stink of ape sweat and gorilla testosterone soaked his hair and clothes.

[snip]

At 9:30 a.m., Frist opened the Senate, gripping the corners of the lectern, as he had the operating table. Across the city, rolling in a bed of hay, Kuja opened his eyes and grunted. The gorilla kept touching his tongue to his tooth. Something had changed inside of the beast while he slept. Frist smiled and spoke unremarkably from the lectern, reeking of silverback testosterone.
This is not a parody! Link to WAPO article "Bill Frist: A Doctor at Heart" here.

No mention of how Herr Docktor used to adopt kittens from animal shelters to "practice" on when he was a med student...

Santorum: Making a Federal Case Out of It

Is it safe?

Is it safe?

Is it safe?


According to the U.S. Capitol Police, Tricky Ricky's Penn Hills property is "very secure."

And, according to a neighbor, nobody's "home."
Neighbor Don Gingery said, "The place has been empty for three or four months."

"Empty? How do you know?" asked Channel 4 Action News reporter Bob Mayo.

"I live right here," Gingery said.
Here are the links to video of the U.S. Capitol Police checking out Tricky Ricky's PA property (on your dime):
KDKA-TV
Capitol Police To Check On Santorum's PH Home
(WITH VIDEO REPORT)

WTAE-TV
Capitol Police Visit Santorum's Penn Hills Home
(WITH VIDEO REPORT)

(Links courtesy of Santorum Cybergate)

May 24, 2006

Has anyone checked the freezer yet?

According to the Tribune-Review, the Twanda Carlisle probe is triggering discretionary spending disclosures by some other Pittsburgh City Council members:

Four of Pittsburgh's nine City Council members vowed Tuesday to publish their discretionary expenses online just days after the city's lawyers handed their investigation of Councilwoman Twanda Carlisle to county prosecutors and the state Ethics Commission.

Council members said they're trying to draw a distinction between their discretionary spending of taxpayer money and Carlisle's. Each council member has access to $85,000 in discretionary spending this year.

Councilman Bill Peduto was the first to promise to put his spending records online yesterday, followed by Council President Luke Ravenstahl and council members Doug Shields and Daniel Deasy. "

Supporters of Councilwoman Carlisle have stated that all council members are guilty of the same spending habits," Peduto said. "I want to assure the public that that's not the case. Every dollar I spend is transparent."
Carlisle's supporters have been seen week after week at City Council meetings asking for investigations of council members' expenses for the past ten years (is there anyone on council who has held that office for 10 years?).

The Trib article says that Carlisle has been advised by her attorney to refuse requests for interviews while D.A. Zappala investigates the consultant payments in question, but KDKA News has a brief interview with her (including video) where she states:

“I'm glad I live in the United States of America and there's a process, due process so I'm glad we're going through the process," said Carlisle. “But at no time did Twanda Carlisle sign any checks and everything was in Pittsburgh City Council for approval. Council approved every expenditure that was put in front of them. I've stay within my budget so I don't know what the particular situation could possibly be at this point.”
2 Political Junkies thinks it's not a good sign when anyone refers to themselves in the third person.

The interview was conducted after yesterday's City Council meeting. At that meeting Ora Lee Carroll from Larimar, a constituent of Carlisle's, called for Carlisle to either resign or be impeached.

KDKA's report said that Carlisle would not respond to reporters' questions at the City Council meeting. I can't tell you anything else that occurred at the meeting because it was apparently Sister City Day and every time I tuned in to The City Council Show either someone was speaking in a foreign language, or singing colorful folkloric songs in a foreign language, or there was no sound at all and viewers were "treated" to images of Mayor Bob O'Connor signing papers.

2 Political Junkies says if we have to see Mayor Bob make a guest appearance on one of our favorite TV shows, he must appear in a Donald Trump-style The Apprentice format and hold a board meeting. (One guess who Ms. Ora Lee wants to have said to them, "You're fired!")

Either that, or groups being honored with a day named after them must compete American Idol style for the right to their own exclusive day (no sharing) -- no wait, that might involve more colorful folkloric songs -- OK, compete cage-match style.

The City Council Show

The City Council Show broadcast a very special episode on Monday that reviewed a slots location study done by the City of Pittsburgh's planning director. Some council members panned the study and The Angry Drunk Bureaucrat pans their pan here.

So after two bad episodes, has The City Council Show jumped the shark? Has 2 Political Junkies jumped the shark by using the tired phrase "jumped the shark"?

Have I used enough cultural references yet to end this piece?

*Has reading too much MacYapper influenced my writing style?

But back to The City Council Show...

2 Political Junkies feels compelled to note that there was a good episode last week. Councilwoman Tonya Payne (District 6) had several bills relating to vacancies and real estate buys by the URA which will put together a critical mass of property needed for both commercial and residential development in The Hill -- hopefully anticipating a sorely needed grocery store in that neighborhood. There was also discussion of 12 new units of low and moderate income housing being built in the Middle Hill (as opposed to the often discussed and much TIFF'd luxury variety). We did not see any reviews of this episode in the MSM.

If The City Council Show can stick to storylines like Ms. Payne's, we predict a long run.

BREAKING! US Capitol Police in Penn Hills today at Santorum property

KDKA News is reporting today that the U.S. Capitol Police will be in Penn Hills today to investigate Santorum Campaign claims of trespassing on Tricky Ricky's Penn Hills property:
Police from Washington D.C. are coming to Penn Hills today to investigate claims that someone trespassed on property owned by U.S. Senator Rick Santorum.

The senator’s wife filed a complaint with police that she believed someone had been prowling around the residence.
There was a video of the story available earlier today at KDKA's website (http://kdka.com/video/?id=16554@kdka.dayport.com ) but it's gone now and if you click on that link, you get the Giant Eagle Advantage Card story instead. The video on the website did end abruptly so perhaps it's being fixed and will reappear later.

U.S. Capitol Police

As reported in today's Post-Gazette, the U.S. Capitol police have already led to stepped-up local patrols around Santorum's property:
Ronald Machesky, Penn Hills' public safety director, said that U.S. Capitol Police had contacted him last week, relaying concerns from Mrs. Santorum about the possibility of intruders on the Penn Hills property. He said that Penn Hills police have, in response, been checking the area since May 16.
Apparently, in this case Penn Hills would fall within the jurisdiction of the U.S. Capitol Police:
Additionally, we are responsible for protecting Members of Congress, Officers of the United States Senate, United States House of Representatives, and their families. We serve these individuals throughout the entire United States, its territories and possessions, and throughout the District of Columbia.

...That is of course if anyone beside the Santorums and their campaign staff believe that there is any actual trespassing occurring on Santorum's property, and if anyone still actually believes that the Senator and his family actually resides there.

2 Political Junkies has already noted here that Jon Delano has been seen [gasp] knocking on the door at the Santorum Penn Hills property. We certainly hope the Capitol Cops don't pick him up for trespassing.

The U.S. Capitol Police have recently been in the news with the Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-RI) car wreck case and the Rep. Cynthia A. McKinney (D-GA) shoving incident so one could be tempted to think they had enough to do in Washington D.C. (not to mention any responsibilities for helping to keep our nation's capitol safe from terror).

[sigh]

UPDATE: Video is apparently back up at the link noted above (http://kdka.com/video/?id=16554@kdka.dayport.com ), however, we note that the KDKA story's headline is "Capitol Police Coming To Santorum's Home" so now we are confused. if Capitol Cops are visiting Santorum's home, doesn't that mean that they are in Virginia and not Penn Hills?

Is KDKA trespassing on Santorum's property??

Check this piece out by Jon Delano. Better yet, watch the video.

We really don't learn anything new about the story except what triggered the phone call to the Capital Police:
The Santorum Campaign says Karen Santorum, the senator's wife, overheard Vecchio's comments to KDKA about no curtains and furniture and was concerned about prowlers.

So, she called the Capitol Police.

The Capitol Police called Penn Hills Public Safety Director Ron Machesky.

“Mrs. Santorum had reported that she thought there may have been prowlers or someone trespassing on the property,” said Machesky.
That's it. It was from there and from Ed Vecchio's statement that the house was empty that the Santorum campaign assumed that a crime has taken place. Here's Jim O'Toole from today's P-G:
The Santorum campaign claimed the KDKA report shows that Mr. Vecchio admitted he had trespassed on the property. In the report, however, Mr. Vecchio describes the house as empty but never says that he had personally looked in its windows.

John Brabender, a senior adviser to the Santorum campaign, insisted that the characterization was a reasonable inference from Mr. Vecchio's statement.
Oh, so it was a reasonable inference. They didn't actually have any actual evidence that someone was actually snooping on the property. They inferred it. But wait, didn't the attack ad say that a "Casey operative admitted to trespassing" on the property? And doesn't the Santorum website site say (this according to the P-G):
"Casey's crew violated the Santorum family's home in search of political ammunition, instilling fear in Rick Santorum's wife, Karen, their six children, his in-laws and their neighbors to the point where the police had to be called in to protect the home."
Now they're saying that it was a reasonable inferrence that all that occurred. Or maybe they're just lying to cover the fact that their first lie was found out.

Here's a news flash. There is videotaped evidence of someone (not the Santorums) being on that property and peering through the windows! Take a look again at Delano's video. Specifically, about 1/2 of the way through. When he says:
Today, KDKA visited the Santorum home.
Throughout the video, there are numerous shots of the house's windows and at one point what sounds like Jon Delano knocking at their front door. He writes:
Nobody was home, an outside light was on, and the shades were drawn.
Now, how would he know that the shades were drawn, unless, of course, he positioned himself in such a way that he'd be looking through the windows if there were no drapes?

Ohmigodohmigodohmigod, somebody please call the Capital Police! Jon Delano has just admitted to violating the Santorum's family home and in doing so is threatening the Senator's children!

When will the Santorum campaign be calling Jon Delano, who must be one of the nicest guys on the planet, a thug? Isn't this the same reasonable inference that the Santorum campaign made?

The Santorum campaign is ignoring of course the very reasonable possibility of something that the Vecchios are claiming in Delano's piece.
[T]hat it is common knowledge in the neighborhood that no one has lived in the Santorum's house for awhile.
Delano even interviews a neighbor who says basically the same thing.

Proof that the Santorum Campaign has gone negative and that in order to cover up their first smear, they have gone smearier.

May 23, 2006

Rethug weasel no show on KDKA -- 2pj on now!

Listen now!

UPDATE: Weasel shows up -- on momentarily (this posted at 8:10 PM).

Crying Wolf

"Intimidating and scaring my family - and they feel threatened, let me assure you - that is thuggery."
- Tricky Ricky

"We are writing to express our outrage regarding the actions of your campaign, which have put our six young children at a serious safety risk."
- Mr. & Mrs. Tricky Ricky


Question: How can Tricky Ricky Santorum's kids be at risk from anyone at a Penn Hills, Pennsylvania property when they live in a near million dollar home in Virginia?
Answer: Beats me.

Question: Why did Mrs. Tricky Ricky call the U.S. Capitol Police to report someone supposedly trespassing at a property in Pennsylvania?
Answer: She forgot the area code for Penn Hills (we're guessing).

Question: How many more times will Tricky Ricky hide behind his children and cry wolf?
Answer: This isn't the first time, so we doubt it will be the last.

Question: What does crying wolf make Tricky Ricky?
Answer: As Atrios would say:

Question: Will Tricky Ricky use the nasty trespassing charges in any more commercials?
Answer: God, let's hope so! It manages to make milquetoast Bob Casey look more butch!


The AP picks up the Santorum Smear ad

Here it is at the Washington Post:
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Claims of trespassing at a private home and accusations of negative campaigning mark the latest installment of the fierce election-year fight between Republican Sen. Rick Santorum and Democratic challenger Bob Casey.

The charges and countercharges in the Pennsylvania Senate race also have revived questions about where Santorum, his wife and six children live _ a three-bedroom, 2,100-square-foot home in Penn Hills., Pa., or a house in Leesburg, Va., that's more than 5,000 square feet.

Santorum launched radio ads on Monday that contend that a Casey operative admitted to "trespassing into the Santorum's home in Penn Hills, (Pa.) peering into the windows looking for campaign dirt."

The ad is based on a report by KDKA-TV in Pittsburgh.

In the television report, Ed Vecchio, whose wife is a local Democratic Party leader in Penn Hills, said he had a right to contest Santorum's votes from last week's primary because, "He doesn't live here. The house he's registered to vote out of, is vacant, no curtains, furniture, nothing in there."

Vecchio said he never looked into the windows of Santorum's home.

The Casey campaign said Vecchio does not work for them and denied that anyone from the campaign trespassed at the house. They also accused the Santorum campaign of trying to shift attention from the fact that Santorum primarily lives with his family in Virginia.

"Santorum should take his deliberately untrue attack ad off the air," said Larry Smar, a Casey campaign spokesman, of the commercials that are airing in Pittsburgh.

Virginia Davis, a Santorum campaign spokeswoman, accused the Casey campaign of negative tactics.

"The people of Pennsylvania deserve to know that Bob Casey is up to the same negative, slash and trash tactics once again," Davis said.
More of a he said/he said article so popular amongst today's "objective" journalists. Unfortunately, it also neglects to look at whether the charges are actually true. Was there trespassing on the Santorum property? If there was, was a Casey operative involved? All the AP does is to let each side speak for itself. Good going. He said/He said.

Here, let me repost the smeariest part of the ad copy again:
Now we know what Casey meant. According to a KDKA investigative report, a Casey operative admitted to trespassing at the Santorum’s home in Penn Hills. Peering into the windows looking for campaign dirt. But we shouldn’t be surprised. Casey has a long history of slinging mud.
Of course there's nothing in the KDKA report to suggest that a "Casey operative" "admitted" to anything.

And of course there's the text book projection:
Casey has a long history of slinging mud.
If there's mud hear, it's dripping off of the junior Senator from Virginia.

Breaking: Rick Santorum's Attack Ad UPDATE!

Santorum's campaign spokesperson will be on McIntire (KDKA 1020 AM) tonight talking about this issue...as will 2 Political Junkies' very own David.

David will be on around 8:15 pm.

You can live stream it here.

UPDATE: John Brabender, Santorum’s media consultant, will be on around 7:15 PM.

May 22, 2006

Rick Santorum's Attack Ad

I just heard Lil Ricky's attack-back ad on John McIntire's radio program. (And I should note that The Hotline beat me to this by an hour. Damn!)

You can hear the ad here. As of Monday evening, the transcript isn't up at the Santorum website, so I did one myself. Here it is:
Primary Election night in front of cheering supporters in Pittsburgh, Rick Santorum challenged Bobby Casey to 10 debates and Casey responded with a loud, no - saying voters didn’t care about issues and that campaigns are a contact sport.

Now we know what Casey meant. According to a KDKA investigative report, a Casey operative admitted to trespassing at the Santorum’s home in Penn Hills. Peering into the windows looking for campaign dirt. But we shouldn’t be surprised. Casey has a long history of slinging mud.

The Philadelphia Daily News has called Casey’s tactics, “slash and trash and little else.” The chairman of the Democratic Party said Casey took negative campaigning to a new height. And one Philadelphia paper called Casey’s campaign, “dishonest and nasty.”

Apparently, that’s what we can expect from Bobby Casey. Again. I’m Rick Santorum, candidate for the US Senate and I approved this message Paid for and authorized by Santorum 2006.
Let's get all the material first. Here's Ricky's page on this. It includes a copy of the e-mail they've been sending out. It also links to this KDKA page.

The e-mail makes a number of allegations.
On KDKA TV on May 18, there was an investigative report that revealed the shocking news of a Casey campaign operative peeking into the windows of the Santorum family home.
And:
The television segment features Ed Vecchio, who is married to Erin Vecchio, chairwoman of the Penn Hills Democratic Committee, and closely connected with Bobby Casey Jr.'s campaign.
And:
The Vecchios acknowledge to peering in the windows of the Santorum's home.
Now let's take a look at the text of the KDKA report.

Remember the ad says that "a Casey operative admitted to trespassing" at the home in Penn Hills and the e-mail says an operative was "peeking into the windows" of the home. And that the Vecchios "acknowledge peering into the windows." Seems pretty cut and dry, right?

Not when you look at the source material.

This is how investigative reporter Ralph Ianotti quotes Ed Vecchio, husband to Erin Vecchio, head of the Penn Hills Democratic Party.
“He doesn't live here,” said Ed Vecchio of Penn Hills. “The house he's registered to vote out of, is vacant -- no curtains, furniture, nothing in there. It's abandoned for over a month. So, I feel it's my right to contest his vote.”
That's it. The "admitted" part comes from the end of the piece:
As for the Santorums, they think someone would have had to go onto their property to know what is, or isn't inside. [emphasis added]
Then there's this from the piece:
Right now, Penn Hills Police don't know who, if anybody, trespassed on Santorum's property.
Yet Ricky's ad says that a Casey operative "admitted" to tresspassing. Trespassing is a very serious charge. If someone did admit to this, then why hasn't there been an arrest?

Who do you think is lying here? Ricky's campaign or the Penn Hills Police?

The next day, KDKA broadcast this:
A day after KDKA disclosed police were stepping up patrols in Santorum's neighborhood, a strategist for Santorum charged Democrats were stalking the senator's home.
But, again the police said they don't know who, if anyone, trespassed on the property. Yet someone in Ricky's camp says that Democrats are "stalking" the home.

Who's lying here?

Then there's this from the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Saying his family's safety had been threatened, Santorum lashed out at Casey in interviews across the state yesterday. Santorum accused the Vecchios of being Casey operatives who trespassed on his property and looked into his windows, and the Casey campaign of "writing press releases in support of that kind of activity."

"Intimidating and scaring my family - and they feel threatened, let me assure you - that is thuggery," Santorum said before a Senate field hearing at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

Earlier in the day in a phone interview on WILK-AM's Sue Henry Show in Scranton, Santorum went on the attack while responding to a question about debates. "Now that he is a nominee, it is time for him to start acting like a candidate instead of a thug," Santorum said of Casey.

Casey, in a statement, called the charges "false and malicious." His campaign, in a news release, described Santorum's actions as "weirdness."

"We have nothing to do with it," said Larry Smar, Casey's spokesman. "We are not going to look in Sen. Santorum's windows, and we hope he doesn't look into ours... . He is trying to drag Bob Casey into a long-running feud."
But The Inquirer is also reporting:
Erin Vecchio said she and her husband repeated what they had heard from a staff writer of the Penn Hills Progress, which reported Wednesday that the Santorum house "appeared to be unoccupied." The Casey campaign highlighted the story in a Thursday news release.

"This is not coming from Bob Casey," said Vecchio, denying coordination. "This is coming from the taxpayers of Penn Hills." [emphasis added]
By the way, here's the article from the Penn Hills Progress. From it we learn a few interesting things from Virginia Davis, press secretary to Senator Man-on-Dog:
Davis said the Santorums split their time between their homes in Penn Hills and the Washington, D.C., area. The senator's family must have a home near Washington so Santorum can be present when the Senate is in session, according to the press secretary.

Davis denied that Santorum's niece, Alyssa DeLuca, and her husband, Bart, had lived in the Stephens Lane home.

The press secretary said the couple was only looking after the house and no longer does so.

The Stephens Lane home lately has appeared to be unoccupied.
And KDKA reported that:
They (the Santorums) admit they spend most of their time at their home in Leesburg, Virginia.
So now here's the kicker. KDKA quotes Erin Vecchio as saying:
“If you want me to take a lie detector test to say I was never on that property. Go for it. I'll, myself and my husband, will take a lie detector test. Because, will you take a lie detector test, Rick -- to say you ever lived in that house?”
Huh. Now didn't the Santorum campaign say that the Vecchios "admitted to peering into the windows"? Now Erin Vecchio says that she's never been to Ricky's house - and she's willing to take a lie detector to prove it.

KDKA adds this:
Bob Casey Jr. issued a statement saying in part "Santorum is making false and malicious charges involving a long running dispute in Penn Hills about his residency."

Casey goes on to say "The people questioning Santorum's residency aren't Casey campaign operatives.... why doesn't Santorum just fess up and say he lives in Virginia?"
So let me sum it all up: The Santorum camp says that Ed Vecchio, a Casey operative, by declaring that he saw no furniture in the house must've been on the property in order to look through the window.

Yet none of that is true. The Vecchios, you'll remember, say they got that information from the Penn Hills Progress - who in fact reported that the house "appeared to be unoccupied" two days before the KDKA report.

Every charge against the Casey Campaign and the Vecchios is a lie - and they know it.

Rick Santorum, the smear-meister has finally arrived.

UPDATE: Here's the Casey Campaign's response to Lil Ricky's ad.

Daniel Schorr Writes about George Bush

Here's something interesting from Daniel Schorr. He knows something about Presidential abuses of power. He was #17 on Nixon's enemies list. Here's the core of the piece at HuffingtonPost.
Something seems to have gone off the rails between President Bush and his base, judging by a recent Gallup poll that shows his support among conservatives down from a long-standing 80 percent to a current 50 percent.
Poor guy. Even the other crazed wingnuts are beginning to jump ship.

Ruth Ann Daily: The Bible is Good Journalism

In today's column, Post-Gazette columnist Ruth Ann Dailey takes on The Da Vinci Code.

I haven't read the book nor have I seen the movie, so I will have to remain an agnostic on those aspects of her column. For the trolls keeping score - that was a pun.

She does, however, make some interesting points about The Bible. Here's how she begins:
I didn't read "The Da Vinci Code," and I haven't seen the movie, but I'm not going to let those two facts keep me from committing punditry on this season's silly salvo at the Church.

Why not? Because of this little thing I like to call "journalism."
I like the self-deprecating part about not letting facts get in the way of "committing punditry." It's funny because for so many pundits it's all too true.

But then gives a thumbnail definition of journalism:
Here's how it usually works: You have a busy life, filled with jobs and kids and chores and charity work, so you don't have time to attend, say, most sessions of the Legislature in Harrisburg. (If you're lucky, you haven't attended any at all.)

Instead, you drop 50 cents into a little box and pull out a newspaper with regular, detailed reports on what our fine state reps are up to. The newspaper also carries first-hand accounts of things such as war, natural disasters, crime and government -- or crime in government.
First hand accounts and so on. But then she ties things together with:
It's a good system, don't you think? It also happens to be the reason that I believe Jesus was divine, performed countless miracles, preached radical truths and didn't father children with Mary Magdalene.

The eyewitnesses who heard his sermons, witnessed his miracles and touched his living body after they'd watched him die wrote about these events in both detail and great accord. Though they give Mary Magdalene credit for arriving first at Jesus' empty tomb, they don't mention a romantic relationship or children. They understood that the gospel concerns his blood, not his bloodline.
Well, that's something new, the Bible as 1st Century journalism. This might get her into some epistemological trouble, however. For instance, on the Gospels:
  • Were the Gospels written at the time the events they describe were unfolding? If not, how long after, say, the crucifixion, were they written? Days? Months? Years? Decades?
  • Were all the Gospels written by people who had first hand, eye-witness accounts of the events they were "reporting" on? If not, how did those who weren't witnesses collect their information?
  • Were they all written independently or do one or more quote any of the others?
If there's a "no" in any of those questions, then there's room, at least, for some healthy skepticism in calling The Bible "journalism."

Until I know more, I remain agnostic on the entire subject.

May 20, 2006

Vote for Gabrielle TODAY!

From I Heart Pgh:

A call to action for one of our own! Ms. Gabby Means (age 11) is > <>

Gabby is a contestant in the Briggs & Stratton Diamonds in the Rough Contest; her heartfelt essay to this national organization has put her in the running for a $20,000 grand prize and baseball clinic from Hall of Famers Lou Brock and Carlton Fisk!

She is competing against 15 other kids from around the country and she needs our help. You can read more about Gabby's story in the Post-Gazette article below. Please vote for her here - it only takes 2 seconds!

http://www.briggsdiamondsintherough.com


Post-Gazette story on this here.

May 19, 2006

SEEING DOUBLE

Bush continues to "tank."



(Hat Tip to uggabugga via Atrios and Shakes)

A slightly different take...

While bloggers (here and here for example) as well as the MSM are jumping all over the fact that Lil Ricky getting 22,000 less votes than Lynn Swann got shows how much deep doo-doo Santorum is in, I want to relay something completely anecdotal to suggest another take on this.

As I was poll watching for myself and some other candidates, a young man came rushing to the polls late in the day. He brushed pass the lit that I and my Sis were handing out saying the following:
No thanks, I'm a Republican. I'm just here to vote for Swann!
The guy was obviously jazzed about his vote -- all animated and smiling. The Patriot-News article that Atrios quotes says:
In the southeastern part of the state, Santorum received about as many GOP votes as Swann. But in the southwest, an area that analysts agreed is critical for the senator's re-election bid, Santorum received 6,000 fewer votes than Swann.

That has to be a concern because the southwest is Santorum's home base, Young said.

"I think his problems are greater in the southwest, where the anger is more palpable and more serious for him in that he needs the support out there if he's going to have a chance to beat Casey," Young said.
And Atrios draws the following conclusion from it:
Ricky really pissed people off in the Pittsburgh area over his spending the school district's money to educate his kids in Virginia where they live.
While Lil Ricky's favorable ratings are obviously troubling, I say never underestimate the love some folks have for the Steelers.

What do we need the weather channel for?

When all we need is to talk to Pat Robertson?

He gets weather reports from the almighty.
The Rev. Pat Robertson says God has told him that storms and possibly a tsunami will hit America's coastline this year.

The founder of the Christian Broadcasting Network has told viewers of "The 700 Club" that the revelations came to him during his annual personal prayer retreat in January.

"If I heard the Lord right about 2006, the coasts of America will be lashed by storms," Robertson said May 8.
If he heard the Lord right? Is he saying he has doubts that he may not have heard the voice of the almighty correctly?

Gee, I wonder what else he may have gotten wrong.

May 18, 2006

Bush's dead cat bounce

Via CNN:
Bill Schneider:Did his prime time speech on immigration help President Bush at all? Yes. Is he out of trouble? No. The president's latest job approval rating, 36 percent. That's up 2 two points since early May, not much change.
And what was the story in early May? Again, via CNN:
The poll, based on interviews of 1,021 adults between Friday and Sunday, found Bush's approval rating was 34 percent -- an uptick of 2 percentage points from the most recent CNN poll in late April.
I just want to go on record saying that yes, a member of the MSM has in fact reported that Bush's poll numbers have indeed gone up.

Four points. Since late April. But since the margin of error for both is +/- 3 points, all we can actually say is that dubya's got himself stuck in the mid-30s. Poor guy.

Schneider has more bad news for our AWOL president:
Bush's approval rating among Democrats and Independents has changed very little since January. Most of the slippage has been among his fellow Republicans, down 10 points. Some Republicans heard things they didn't like in the president's speech.
Awwww.

A quick update:

Get a gander at what Schneider said right after:
What about the issue of wiretaps without a court order of conversations between Americans and suspected terrorists in other countries? By a narrow margin, Americans think the Bush administration should not be doing that. Last week, the president offered the public this assurance.

BUSH: The government does not listen to domestic phone calls without court approval.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

SCHNEIDER: Nevertheless, 63 percent of Americans believe the government has wiretapped conversations of U.S. citizens not suspected of terrorism without first obtaining a court order, 63 percent don't buy the president's assurances. That's a credibility problem -- Wolf.
You don't say. Bush has a credibility problem?

Arlen Spector on Gay Marriage

What a brave stance to take. Take a look at what happened, according to Jack Cafferty.
Wolf, Today's lesson in hypocrisy comes to us courtesy of the Senate Judiciary Committee. They met in a different private room behind closed doors today and approved a Constitutional Amendment banning gay marriage. at one point the thing got pretty ugly. A shouting match, between the Republican Chairman Senator Arlen Spector and Democratic Senator Russ Feingold, who said he was against the Amendment as well as Spector's decision to hold the vote in a private room out of the public's view.

These guys are shameless. Feingold eventually stormed out telling Spector "I've enjoyed your lecture Mr Chairman. See ya."

Senator Spector in a real show of courage, says that he is "totally opposed to the Amendment", but he voted for it anyway saying that it deserves a debate in the Senate. Majority Leader Bill Frist says the full Senate will now debate a Constitutional Amendment which has absolutely no chance of passing. Frist hopes to have a vote by June 5th.

This is all being done by the republican majority in an effort to appeal to Right-wing nuts in the Republican Party ahead of the upcoming mid-term elections. Ignore all of the pressing issues facing the country, and instead go grovel at the feet of the lunatic fringe. Senator Frist should be very proud of himself. That's leadership. Here's the question: Is now the time for the Senate to consider a constitutional Amendment on gay marriage?" [emphasis added]
Hmmm. Let's see. We're in debt up to our eyeballs (thanks be to GW), American Servicemen and women are dying every day in a war that we were manipulated into (thanks be to GW), the administration is breaking the law everyday with the NSA domestic spying program (again, thanks be to GW) and how is the Senate going to spend some of its time?

They're going to debate a Constitutional Amendment that has no chance of passing.

But Cafferty is correct, at this point it's all about appealing to the citizens of wingnuttia - God's Own Party's lunatic fringe.

It'll only get crazier.

Via Attytood: What We've Become

On the one hand there's Patrick Henry, founding father, first Governor of Virginia, quoted 42 years after the fact, saying to the Virginia House of Burgesses:
"Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty or give me death!"
Then there's Senator Pat Roberts, the man who buried the investigation into the Bush regime's manipulation of pre-war intelligence saying today:
"You have no civil liberties if you are dead."
Go read this at attytood. He has pictures and everything

BlogFest!

Hey, tomorrow is the next BlogFest!

Take a look.

I've gone to a few of these things. It's always a great time.

Rendell Campaign Kickoff, Friday, May 19th at 4:30

Governor Rendell's Campaign Kick-off and Democratic Rally!

When: Tomorrow, Friday, May 19th at 4:30 pm
Where: The corner of Third Ave. and Ross St. (Outside of the Western PA Campaign Headquarters) 225 Ross Street Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Rain Location: The City-County Building at 414 Grant St.

Come enjoy music and refreshments while showing your support for Governor Rendell!

Rain or Shine!

rendellforgovernor.com

May 17, 2006

Oh for fuck's sake!

From WAPO (via Atrios):
New federal guidelines ask all females capable of conceiving a baby to treat themselves -- and to be treated by the health care system -- as pre-pregnant, regardless of whether they plan to get pregnant anytime soon.

Among other things, this means all women between first menstrual period and menopause should take folic acid supplements, refrain from smoking, maintain a healthy weight and keep chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes under control.

[snip]

Preconception care should be delivered by any doctor a patient sees -- from her primary care physician to her gynecologist. It involves developing a "reproductive health plan" that details if and when children are planned, said Janis Biermann, a report co-author and vice president for education and health promotion at the March of Dimes.
What is this medieval "you're a mere vessel" mentality?

Shouldn't ALL patients and doctors worry about things like smoking, weight, and chronic conditions?

Are there any studies done on male health factors in regard to fetal health?

Is it OK for me to tell my doctor to please consider MY HEALTH as PRIMARY and not some baby that I may or may not have? (The answer to this is "YES" if you have to ask.)

Did stock for folic acid just go up?

Can I go ahead and throw up now even if I'm not experiencing morning sickness?

Seriously, nothing wrong with preventative health care: it's a good thing. But treating all women like they pre-pregnant/perpetually pregnant is fundamentally WRONG.

As the Salon article where Atrios found this states:
Why stop there? What about avoiding sushi, uncooked meats and unpasteurized cheeses? Perhaps women should only be allowed on planes once it has been determined, by routine pelvic exams administered at the gate, that they are not carrying a fetus that could experience trauma midflight.

What's this all about? According to the Post, "experts say it's important that women follow this advice throughout their reproductive lives, because about half of pregnancies are unplanned and so much damage can be done to a fetus between conception and the time the pregnancy is confirmed." So even when we're not pregnant, or have no intention of becoming pregnant, or have already been pregnant and are done having babies, we should make our theoretically possible but wholly imaginary fetuses our priorities.

These new guidelines are meant to address the fact that the rate of infant mortality in the U.S. is three times higher than that in Japan and 2.5 times higher than that in Norway, Finland and Iceland. In fact, it's higher than that of most other industrialized nations, and rose for the first time in 40 years in 2002, to seven deaths per 1,000 live births. Moreover, it's worse for poor and minority women. The infant mortality rate among black women is 13.5 per 1,000 live births, as compared with 5.7 for white women.

But that's because we have a sick and failing healthcare system that leaves millions of disadvantaged Americans without anything resembling the care they require. Almost 17 million women lack health insurance.

Pretending that we're going to solve this problem by instituting guidelines that treat women as baby incubators is not the solution. All it does is reinforce an attitude that problems women have with reproduction are the only ones worth worrying about. How about federal recommendations about using birth control to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases? How about federal guidelines that require doctors to talk to women about the dangers smoking, poor nutrition, unprotected sex, drug use, lack of exercise, and heavy drinking can pose for them, and not just their precious potential cargo?

Oh, but God forbid we actually get something like universal healthcare to treat female and male adults and the babies who grow up to be adults that the Government pretends to care about so much.

No better to just treat all momen like we're living in the "Handmaid's Tale."

Yes, I lost

Only received a little more than 1/3 of the vote.

Our now "anonymous" troll who swore to stop posting here but broke his promise by threatening to "expose" me to the voters (and who talks about us obsessively on his podcasts) will be so pleased.

The one bright point is that I will not have to hand out slate cards for candidates who I would not vote for myself.

More Polling Data

Morning, Poll-fans! I found some interesting polling data for all of you.

Let me just say one thing: doncha just love poll data? If it's done correctly, a poll can give an accurate snapshot of what a whole mess of people are thinking. And if these polls are correct, then dubya's in a whole mess of trouble.

The polls are from a website called SurveyUSA and their methodology is here.

Take another look at the deep pile of shit Bush is in. The page shows polling data for all 50 states and you know what? Only three states have positive net approval numbers for Bush (Idaho 52/45, Utah 51/46, and Wyoming 50/49). And take a look at how strong he's supported in those states! A 7 percent difference in Idaho! 5 percent in Utah! A whopping 1 percent in Wyoming!

Now that's solid support, my friends. Mydd has a map that shows all this in stark blue and red. There's even a county by county map. Ooo, look at all the blue.

In Bush's homestate of Texas, his approval/disapproval numbers are a surprisingly bad 42/56%. Here in Pennsylvania, the numbers are an even worse 28/70%.

Oh and I guess I need to add that according to a poll done by CNN, Americans say Clinton out performed Bush across the board. On the economy, they favored Clinton 63/26%. On foreign affairs, they favored Clinton 56/32%. But the kicker is that Bill "It all depends on what the meaning of 'is' is" Clinton outscored Bush in honesty 46/41%. More people think dubya's dishonest.

You gotta love science, huh?

May 15, 2006

Satire Ahead!

Here. Read this.
Pro-life advocates celebrated approval of the new anti-abortion drug UR-86 by the Food and Drug Administration Tuesday, calling it a "safe and effective method" for terminating pregnant women while leaving their unborn children unharmed.
Huh? What?
Pro-life advocates, many of whom had petitioned the FDA to approve UR-86 while the drug was still in the research-and-development stage, also reacted warmly to the FDA's decision. Randall Terry, founder of Operation Rescue, praised the new pharmaceutical for its potential use in cases of rape and incest, saying it could help end the shame and humiliation of such trauma while saving the life of the fetus.
Randall Terry - what a guy.

The Big Story

Via ABC news:
A senior federal law enforcement official tells ABC News the government is tracking the phone numbers we (Brian Ross and Richard Esposito) call in an effort to root out confidential sources.

"It's time for you to get some new cell phones, quick," the source told us in an in-person conversation.

ABC News does not know how the government determined who we are calling, or whether our phone records were provided to the government as part of the recently-disclosed NSA collection of domestic phone calls.

Other sources have told us that phone calls and contacts by reporters for ABC News, along with the New York Times and the Washington Post, are being examined as part of a widespread CIA leak investigation.
As Josh Micah Marshall writes:
If that's true, then I think we can set aside any pretense that administration policy on all manner of electronic surveillance isn't being brought to bear on political opponents, media critics, the press, everybody.
Do we still live in America?

Polls, polls, and more polls

We've seen the numbers. Fred Honsberger's reported the numbers (on both his radio show and on OffQ). Even the wingnut trolls have dutifully echoed the numbers.

Washington Post:
45. It's been reported that the National Security Agency has been collecting the phone call records of tens of millions of Americans. It then analyzes calling patterns in an effort to identify possible terrorism suspects, without listening to or recording the conversations. Would you consider this an acceptable or unacceptable way for the federal government to investigate terrorism? Do you feel that way strongly or somewhat?

Acceptable 63%/Unacceptable 35%
There's an interesting aspect to this poll. Fred Honsberger on OffQ said that the crime that was committed here is the leaking of the information about the program, but not the program itself. I wonder if Fred has seen this part of the Washington Post poll:
47. Do you think it is right or wrong for the news media to have disclosed this secret government program?

Right 56%/Wrong 42%/No Opinion 1%
So according to this poll, a majority think it's OK for the media to report on the secret government program. Fred didn't say this (as far as I know) on the air. Gee, go figure.

But what else is happening in Poll-land?

Newsweek is reporting this:
Has the Bush administration gone too far in expanding the powers of the President to fight terrorism? Yes, say a majority of Americans, following this week’s revelation that the National Security Agency has been secretly collecting the phone records of U.S. citizens since the September 11 terrorist attacks. According to the latest NEWSWEEK poll,53 percent of Americans think the NSA’s surveillance program “goes too far in invading people’s privacy,” while 41 percent see it as a necessary tool to combat terrorism.
And:
Americans think the White House has overstepped its bounds: 57 percent said that in light of the NSA data-mining news and other executive actions, the Bush-Cheney Administration has “gone too far in expanding presidential power.” That compares to 38 percent who think the Administration’s actions are appropriate.
And then there's the poll from the USAToday/Gallup:
3. Based on what you have heard or read about this program to collect phone records, would you say you approve or disapprove of this government program?

Approve 43%/Disapprove 51%/No Opinion 6%
And then there's this:
6. Based on what you have heard or read about this program, do you think it definitely violates the law, probably violates the law, probably does not violate the law, (or) definitely does not violate the law?

Definitely violates the law 22%
Possibly violates the law 32%
Probably does not violate the law 25%
Definitely does not violate the law 14%
No Opinion 8%
For the math-challenged in the audience (and you know who you are), 54% of those polled say that the program definitely or possibly violates the law.

Here's E&P with an explanation
So what happened? Most likely views changed that much in one day after more negative media reports (including many from conservative commentators such as MSNBC's Joe Scarborough) surfaced. The Washington Post survey took place before many Americans had heard about, or thought about, the implications. The Newsweek Poll also reached twice as many Americans, and the USA Today/Gallup survey almost as many.

The Washington Post/ABC survey was conducted Thursday, just after the NSA news broke via USA Today, and reached just 502 citizens. Newsweek polled 1007 Americans on both Thursday and Friday. USA Today/Gallup polled on Friday and Saturday.

The Newsweek results were pretty stark: 57% of Americans say the administration has gone too far in expanding presidential power, while only 38% say they have not. The president's job approval rating in this poll declined one point to 35%.
By the way, here's what Joe Scarborough said:
Now, whatever you consider yourself, friends, you should be afraid. You should be very afraid. With over 200 million Americans targeted, this domestic spying program is so widespread, it is so random, it is so far removed from focusing on al Qaeda suspects that the president was talking about today, that it‘s hard to imagine any intelligence program in U.S. history being so susceptible to abuse.

You know, I served on the Judiciary Committee and the Armed Service Committee in Congress for four years, and no program I studied while using security clearances ever came close to the scope of this massive spy program. It is dangerous, it breaks FCC laws, and it endangers all Americans‘ right to privacy.

But you know what? The villains in this spy program are pretty easy to target, almost as easy as your phone records. First you have the president, who‘s shown that he will break laws if they get in his way of spying. Second, Democratic leaders—they complain now, but where were they? They reviewed the program. Why no protest? Don‘t hold your press conferences now, Nancy Pelosi. Tell us about it when you learn about it!
I like how for all this, Scarborough still gets in a few punches to the Democrats. Notice the reasons why the villains are villains: The President who breaks laws when they get in the way and the Democrats who are complaining too late.

But which one is breaking the law?

But I'll give the final word on polls to the President's wife. She too must think that reality has a liberal bias. When asked about her husband's abysmal poll numbers she responded
Well, I don't think they are, and I don't really believe those polls.
Ah, how lovely that belief trumps reality in ‘Murika.

I endorse...ME!

Yeah, I don't believe that I've mentioned it here before, but on the off chance that anyone reading this blog lives in my district (16-2) I'm running for Allegheny County Democratic Committee female member.

In case you don't know what a committee member does, their official duties are to vote on committee endorsements and hand out slate cards on election day. It's an unpaid position.

So if you vote in the first room at Morse Garden on Sarah & 24th Streets on Pittsburgh's South Side, vote for:

Maria T. Lupinacci

My opponent has been in office for quite some time so this ain't gonna be a walk in the park.

Oh yeah, in case you haven't noticed, I'm for these folks as well:

Allegheny County Democratic Committee:
(About 50 new folks running this year. WDUQ interviewed some of them and it will be replayed throughout the day.)

Mark DePasquale, ?
Janis Williams, ? (North Side)
Matt Preston, 9-2
John Riegert, 9-3
Erika Fricke, 9-4
Gloria Forouzan, 9-5
Josh Punchur, 9-5
Rebecca White, 9-6
Heather Sage, 9-7
Maria T. Lupinacci, 16-2
Benjamin Ragheb, 16-2

State Democratic Committee:
Robert Vincent Frank, 42nd District www.voterobfrank.com
Christopher J. Bowers, 8th District (write-in) http://www.mydd.com/story/2006/5/11/132550/883
Kevin W. Scott, 8th District (write-in) http://www.mydd.com/story/2006/5/11/132550/883

PA House:
Susan Banahasky
, District 20 www.susaninthehouse.com
Lisa Bennington, District 21 http://www.lisaforhouse.com
Chelsa Wagner, District 22 http://www.chelsawagner.com
Ed Gainey, District 24 http://www.electedgainey.com
Dan Cindric, District 27 http://www.cindric2006.com
Steve Karas, District 34 www.karasforpahouse34.zoomshare.com
Harry Readshaw, District 36 http://www.pahouse.com/readshaw
Anne Dicker, District 175 http://www.annedicker.com/ (Tell your friends in Philly)

PA Senate:
Jim Ferlo, District 28 http://www.jimferlo.com

US Congress:
Georgia Berner
, 4th Congressional District http://georgiaberner.com
Mike Isaac, District 14 http://www.isaacforcongress.org

US Senate:
Chuck Pennacchio www.chuck2006.com

Lt. Governor
Valerie McDonald Roberts
http://www.valerieforpa.com

Governor:
Ed Rendell http://rendellforgovernor.com

May 14, 2006

Howard Dean in Pittsburgh

Please join the progressive community of Pittsburgh for a speech by DNC Chair Governor Howard Dean on Saturday, June 3 at 9:30am.

Governor Dean’s speech is part of the Stonewall Democrats National Convention which is happening in our city this year, but his speech is intended to address broad issues of concern to all Democrats in Pittsburgh and around the country. (Link to local Steel City Stonewall Democrats here.)

Date: Saturday, June 3 - 9:30am
Location: University of Pittsburgh - School of Engineering Auditorium (Corner of O’Hara Street and Thackeray Street)

Please register for your FREE tickets for Dean's speech at:
www.stonewalldemocrats.org/dean

Please put “Democracy for Pittsburgh” under “Individual or Organization who Referred You”

See you there!

FOX News Judge spanks Fred Honsberger!

I heard this on the rarified KDKA air on friday. I was gonna blog on it earlier, but I didn't. So sue me.

I tuned in as Fred Honsberger was (as Newt Gingrich would say) defending the indefensible. As he was parroting the administration's line on the latest NSA domestic surveillance scandal, he made a few flubs along the way - which is surprising for my friend Fred.

He danced the "yes, a crime was committed - the crime was the leak" dance and he pointed out the Washington Post poll that says, according to Fred, that 63% of Americans believe that finding terrorists is more important than privacy.

Then he gave an example. He said that if a known terrorist (say, al-Zarqawi) was calling a number in, (say in Brooklyn), the NSA is collecting data to see what other numbers (domestic numbers) are also calling the number that terrorist had called. If there's a pattern, then that's the beginning of an investigation. Fred did get this part right, the investigation would then be the other NSA domestic spying scandal - listening in (warrant free) on those phone calls.

But weren't we told that the NSA was only targeting international calls? Lesley Cauley, the USAToday reporter that broke this story wrote:I
In defending the previously disclosed program, Bush insisted that the NSA was focused exclusively on international calls. "In other words," Bush explained, "one end of the communication must be outside the United States."

As a result, domestic call records — those of calls that originate and terminate within U.S. borders — were believed to be private.
So according to Fred's example (or at least his understanding of the NSA domestic surveillance) they CAN use the data to listen in on domestic calls - something that his president said the NSA wasn't doing.

Who's wrong? Who's lying? It's difficult to tell through all the right-wing BS.

Fred also played "the IRS" card. I guess he was trying to say we shouldn't be worried about the NSA's collecting the nation's phone records becase the government already knows so much more about us - via the IRS.

Then he interviewed Judge Andrew Napolitano. I can't say that I have any insight into why Fred Honsberger, conservative radio talk-show host would choose to interview a judicial analyst from Fox News, a conservative news source, but I would assume (and this is just an assumption) that he was betting on an politically agreeable interview.

No dice. I'm also guessing that when Judge Napolitano began to speak, Fred's jaw hit the floor.

He called the program that Fred was just defending "a blatant and brash violation of civil liberties" and added later on that it was downright "Stalin-istic" how this government (the government that Fred was defending) was taking away our liberties. He asserted our right to privacy and went on to correct my friend Fred on a number of other things.

For instance when Fred tried to play the IRS card with someone who knows something about the law, Napolitano spanked him - spanked him real good. Turns out that Congress has passed a number of laws barring the IRS from leaking any of that information to anyone (even someone else in the government). If they do, they could go to jail for up to 10 years, Napolitano said.

Napolitano did say that the current program is "legal, but unconstitutional." Legal because it's supported by the USAPatriot act, but unconstitutional because according to a Fox News judicial analyst the USAPatriot Act is unconstitutional.

Napolitano said that if they're listening to phone conversations without a warrant, they're breaking the law.

Napolitano even got a few criticisms in on our current 29% President. He said that Bush likes to defend his domestic spying programs with a "members of Congress were fully informed" line.

This, Napolitano said, is legally meaningless. the members of Congress who were informed were barred from informing other members of Congress. So there was no Congressional debate on the matter. And anyway, he added, informing the Congress of an illegal matter does not make it legal.

I am guessing, though I could be wrong, that Fred Honsberger didn't get the interview he was planning on.

Sorry, Fred. Ya got spanked.