We are the 99%

June 30, 2006

The P-G on the recent NYTimes "scandal"

Check it out.
The war on terror is being fought to preserve our freedoms, or so the American people are told. But freedom is not just a feel-good expression -- it has real meaning. In the paranoid post-9/11 era, that truth seems largely to have been forgotten.

Last week, The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and The Wall Street Journal had a story the Bush administration did not want published, although it is The New York Times that is now taking most of the heat. Based on information from nearly 20 anonymous current and former government officials and industry executives, The Times' story described a secret government anti-terrorist effort -- put in place weeks after 9/11 -- to tap "financial records from a vast international database."
Ok
Given that the Bush administration has shown scant respect for the law, both in domestic surveillance and in confining terror suspects at Guantanamo Bay in defiance of the Geneva Conventions, this is an important news story that should be of interest to every American who cares about how the government behaves.
True. The next part is cool.
Yet because it revealed classified information, the administration and its supporters see this story as something akin to treason.
Given this administration's flagrant disregard to and utter disprespect for our Constitution, "treason" is an interesting charge. I really can't go with the by now over-used "Pot. Kettle. Black" metaphor, because the Times was just doing its job. The P-G sums it up:
The American people must know the nature of government policies if they are to carry on an informed debate.
And finally:
If the government is going to get a free pass on its policies because "we are at war," then the terrorists have scored a victory. Some secrets must be kept, but this was not one of them.
To be sure.

June 29, 2006

In case you missed it.

From the New York Times:
The Supreme Court on Thursday repudiated the Bush administration's plan to put Guantánamo detainees on trial before military commissions, ruling broadly that the commissions were unauthorized by federal statute and violated international law.

"The executive is bound to comply with the Rule of Law that prevails in this jurisdiction," Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the 5-to-3 majority, said at the end of a 73-page opinion that in sober tones shredded each of the administration's arguments, including the assertion that Congress had stripped the court of jurisdiction to decide the case. A principal but by no means the only flaw the court found in the commissions was that the president had established them without Congressional authorization.
Then there's this from the Washington Post:
The Supreme Court yesterday struck down the military commissions President Bush established to try suspected members of al-Qaeda, emphatically rejecting a signature Bush anti-terrorism measure and the broad assertion of executive power upon which the president had based it.

Brushing aside administration pleas not to second-guess the commander in chief during wartime, a five-justice majority ruled that the commissions, which were outlined by Bush in a military order on Nov. 13, 2001, were neither authorized by federal law nor required by military necessity, and ran afoul of the Geneva Conventions.

As a result, no military commission can try Salim Ahmed Hamdan, the former aide to Osama bin Laden whose case was before the justices, or anyone else, unless the president does one of two things he has resisted doing for more than four years: operate the commissions by the rules of regular military courts-martial, or ask Congress for specific permission to proceed differently.

"[I]n undertaking to try Hamdan and subject him to criminal punishment, the Executive is bound to comply with the Rule of Law that prevails in this jurisdiction," Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in the majority opinion.
Rule of Law. What was that about running "afoul of the Geneva Conventions"?

Here's CNN:
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday strongly limited the power of the Bush administration to conduct military tribunals for suspected terrorists imprisoned at the U.S. Navy base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
And
"The military commission at issue is not expressly authorized by any congressional act," said Justice John Paul Stevens, writing for the majority.

The tribunals, he said, "must be understood to incorporate at least the barest of those trial protections that have been recognized by customary international law."

"In undertaking to try Hamdan and subject him to criminal punishment, the executive [Bush] is bound to comply with the rule of law that prevails in this jurisdiction," Stevens wrote.
Now here's the AP:
The Supreme Court rebuked President Bush and his anti-terror policies Thursday, ruling that his plan to try Guantanamo Bay detainees in military tribunals violates U.S. and international law.
Violates U.S. and international law.

And take a look at the first three stories. Each writer saw fit to quote the "rule of law" phrase. It's been found at the NYTimes, Washington Post and CNN. I guess it's important.

From SCOTUSblog:
... it is hard to overstate the principal, powerfully stated themes emanating from the Court, which are (i) that the President's conduct is subject to the limitations of statute and treaty; and (ii) that Congress's enactments are best construed to require compliance with the international laws of armed conflict.
And
Even more importantly for present purposes, the Court held that Common Article 3 of Geneva aplies as a matter of treaty obligation to the conflict against Al Qaeda.
Ouch. I know one half of the blogoshpere ain't gonna like that! He goes on:
This basically resolves the debate about interrogation techniques, because Common Article 3 provides that detained persons "shall in all circumstances be treated humanely," and that "[t]o this end," certain specified acts "are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever"—including "cruel treatment and torture," and "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment."
What is Common Article 3 anyway? Here it is.
In the case of armed conflict not of an international character occurring in the territory of one of the High Contracting Parties, each Party to the conflict shall be bound to apply, as a minimum, the following provisions:

(1) Persons taking no active part in the hostilities, including members of armed forces who have laid down their arms and those placed ' hors de combat ' by sickness, wounds, detention, or any other cause, shall in all circumstances be treated humanely, without any adverse distinction founded on race, colour, religion or faith, sex, birth or wealth, or any other similar criteria.
To this end, the following acts are and shall remain prohibited at any time and in any place whatsoever with respect to the above-mentioned persons:

(a) violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture;

(b) taking of hostages;

(c) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment;

(d) the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court, affording all the judicial guarantees which are recognized as indispensable by civilized peoples.

(2) The wounded and sick shall be collected and cared for.

An impartial humanitarian body, such as the International Committee of the Red Cross, may offer its services to the Parties to the conflict.

The Parties to the conflict should further endeavour to bring into force, by means of special agreements, all or part of the other provisions of the present Convention.
The application of the preceding provisions shall not affect the legal status of the Parties to the conflict.
SCOTUSblog goes on:
This almost certainly means that the CIA's interrogation regime is unlawful, and indeed, that many techniques the Administation has been using, such as waterboarding and hypothermia (and others) violate the War Crimes Act (because violations of Common Article 3 are deemed war crimes).
Did we just read "war crimes"?

Here's the opinion.

rabies shots really do hurt

Things I learned this week:

1. rabies shots really do hurt
2. they don't give them in the stomach anymore -- they give them in/around the bites
3. lots of very nice nurses at Presby
4. i am too claustrophobic for an MRI
5. that "hillbilly heroin" stuff Rush was on makes you not care about anything -- no wonder he lies so much
6. too hard typing and using mouse with left hand only


PS sorry to all trolls, but i really can't be part of RABID LEFT, now that I'm having rabies shots can I?

Flag Burning - huh?

The editorial board of the P-G got it right:
As flag burning is something that has hardly been seen since the Vietnam War, amending the Constitution to deal with this odious but rare form of protest is hardly pressing business. But there it was being pressed again -- because, you see, it is symbolic.
They whittle it down to:
In the aisles of Congress, protecting the flag is less symbolic of freedom than of proving patriotism. Those who defend the very idea of what the flag stands for stand in peril of being cast as sympathetic to its destruction.
The curious thing is that I was listening to The Honzman on the radio yesterday and (now get this) he's against the Flag burning amendment.

That's right. Fred Honsberger is a left-leaning, commie-loving, 'Murika-hating flag burner!

Who'd'a thunk it?

Seriously, here's the part I never understood about the so-called "Flag Burning" amendment. Take a look at the U.S. Code., Title 4, Chapter 1, Section 8, Subsection k:
The flag, when it is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem for display, should be destroyed in a dignified way, preferably by burning.[emphasis added]
But the code also says (this is subsection g):
The flag should never have placed upon it, nor on any part of it, nor attached to it any mark, insignia, letter, word, figure, design, picture, or drawing of any nature.
But take a look at this (you'll have to head over to see the picture).

Why is George Bush defacing an American Flag?

June 28, 2006

The Other Political Junkie

The Other Political Junkie wanted me to let everyone know that she's got some real-life reality-based things to attend to and so she won't be posting here for a while.

June 27, 2006

Another Conservative at odds with Rick Santorum

This time it's my buddy Jerry Bowyer.

Jerry's conservative credentials, for those of you who don't know, are solid. Go ahead and google him (I'm sure he won't mind). No weak-kneed mamby-pamby liberal there!

Anyway, he wrote an interesting pair of columns one for each end of Pennsylvania - in this Sunday's P-G, and Monday's Philadelphia Daily News. I'm not sure why they're different yet so overlapping. Maybe some day Jerry will explain it.

He begins (at the Philly paper) with this:
I'VE BEEN interviewing Rick Santorum for almost two decades now. One thing that always struck me about Rick was his willingness to speak openly about his belief in Christianity.

That's why I was surprised when the senator recently sent an e-mail to me in which he bragged about his tough position on immigration and slammed Bob Casey for his soft one.

As I read the e-mail, I thought, "Has Rick ever read what the Bible actually says about immigrants?"
Some of us wonder if Rick's ever read the Bible at all (Matthew, 7:1-5 and all that), but that's another column for another day. He begins the Pittsburgh piece like this:
President Bush has proposed an immigration reform plan. It toughens border enforcement, but also creates incentives for illegal immigrants to come forward, pay a fine and apply for legal citizenship. Hard-line conservatives call this approach amnesty and oppose it. Among them is Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum, who is attacking Senate candidate Bob Casey for taking an approach that seems pretty much spot on with the president's.

As certain elements of my party struggle to get in touch with their inner Pat Buchanan, I've spent a lot of time reflecting on what the Bible says about immigrants.
Inner Pat Buchanan - haha! But take a look at something the Santorum ad doesn't have the guts to say. Casey's taking an approach (right or wrong) that "seems pretty much spot on with the president's." So when Lil Ricky is ranting about Casey - he's also ranting about our AWOL president. When will someone on the right other than Jerry Bowyer be pointing that out?

Now the two pieces converge.
The biblical case against abortion is inferential. The Bible doesn't speak directly to the topic. It lays out some principles -- sacredness of life, humanity of the unborn -- that lead to the conclusion that abortion is not permitted. It's the same with stem cells, child tax credits, faith-based social service provisions, etc.

Immigration is different: The Bible is explicit. In the Torah, Moses commanded, "Do not mistreat an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in Egypt." The Bible is unabashedly pro-immigrant.
I didn't realize that The Bible had anything to say about faith-based social services, but that's just me.

Let me say that I'm definitely NOT a fan of having The Bible or any book deemed sacred by any faith as the arbiter of secular law. We're not a Christian Nation but a secular one - if you have any doubts, just read (perhaps for the first time) the 1st Amendment. But when an openly religious candidate is so obviously at odds with his own scripture, that's an interesting story.

Jerry makes a point later in both pieces:
I understand that on the surface, the current argument is not about immigration per se, but about illegal immigration. I also understand, from nearly a decade of hosting talk radio, that almost every time I run into someone who wants to take a tough approach on illegal immigrants, they also turn out to dislike legal ones as well.
Remember, this is Jerry Bowyer talking - not me. Then there's this:
The president wants to create a program in which illegals can come forward, pay a fine and apply for legitimate citizenship. What do the hard-liners want? My hard-line talk radio callers want deportation. I have two words that I'd like for them to contemplate for a moment: "concentration camp." There is no way that you move 10 to 20 million people from one nation to another, against their will, without concentrating them.
"No amnesty"= deportation = "concentration camp." Are we comfortable with that?

When he was on the air at PTT, I think I agreed with Jerry about 3% of the time. On the other hand, he was unique among local conservatives in the sheer amount of stuff crammed into his brain. Everyone else in town is either a kook (Jim Quinn, Jack Kelly) or needs to do their homework (Ruth Ann, Fred Honsberger).

It's raining in Pittsburgh today. Surprise, surprise!

June 26, 2006

Rush Limbaugh in trouble - or maybe not

I have no idea what exactly is going on. So here's the story from CBS.
WEST PALM BEACH Sources have confirmed to CBS4 News that conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh has been detained at Palm Beach International Airport for the possible possession of illegal prescription drugs Monday evening.

Limbaugh was returning on a flight from the Dominican Republic when officials found the drugs, among them Viagra.
And here's his attorney's FULL statement:
Roy Black, Rush Limbaugh's attorney, issued the following statement today in response to several inquiries by the media:

While going through routine Customs inspection of luggage at Palm Beach
International Airport upon his return from an international trip, Rush
Limbaugh was detained by customs agents after they noticed a non-narcotic
prescription drug, which had been prescribed by Mr. Limbaugh's treating
physician but labeled as being issued to the physician rather than Mr.
Limbaugh for privacy purposes. After a brief interview, Mr. Limbaugh was
permitted to continue on his journey.
There you have it.

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Ruth Ann Dailey's mea culpa - kind of

This morning's P-G contains a column by our good friend Ruth Ann Dailey. In it there's this paragraph:
After Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's death two weeks ago, I wrote about noticing that previously loud anti-war Web sites and correspondents that kept up a constant barrage of e-mails were suddenly silent when an opportunity to praise American troops was at hand. Were the ones I'd been hearing from a representative of this mostly left-wing movement? I went looking online, but because I used the name "al-Zarqawi" to search, rather than just "Zarqawi," my results on one Web site were skewed. I had to at least consider whether I had missed a relevant stream of commentary because I wanted to.
Ok, I guess that's a mea culpa.

We've already pointed out the P-G's correction here and her initial column here and here.

So I guess that settles that. Or does it?

In today's column, Ruth Ann accuses ABC news of misrepresenting the truth. As the column is about how ideology should not be allowed to skew the honest reporting of the facts, the implication here is that ABC News was skewing the news to fit its own ideology. She compares something CBS reported:
One significant sentence was aired in full on the CBS Evening News: "Tom has gained a much larger family through this ordeal than he had when he left home to go help to free the Iraqi people and protect his country from the threat of terrorism." The sentence straightforwardly expresses the Tucker family's view of the war's purpose and, therefore, the noble meaning of their son's death.
With something ABC reported:
ABC, however, aired a story on how the two soldiers' deaths might affect public opinion on the war. "Even here in this military town"-- Ft. Campbell, Ky. -- "you can hear doubts now about the sacrifice," the reporter said, "and it is that heartfelt concern that prompted Private Tucker's grieving family to say in a statement today that they realize, 'Tom has gained a much larger family through this ordeal than he had when he left home.'"

The rest of the sentence was missing -- the part that stated this particular military family's lack of doubt about their very real sacrifice. It's hard to miss the fact that including it would have refuted the very point the story aimed to make. This misrepresentation of the truth might reasonably cause one to question how trustworthy the rest of the story is and whether, for that matter, its central premise stands up to scrutiny: Are expressions of "heartfelt concern" truly the same as "doubts about the sacrifice"?
Actually Ruth Ann is misstating the case just a wee bit, doncha think? Take a closer look. The reporter (unidentified by Ruth Ann, by the way) says that in that military town "you can hear doubts about the sacrifice" and then what follows?
...and it is that heartfelt concern that prompted Private Tucker's grieving family to say in a statement today that they realize, 'Tom has gained a much larger family through this ordeal than he had when he left home.'"
How would the addition of "...to go help to free the Iraqi people and protect his country from the threat of terrorism." refute (Ruth Ann's word) the point of the story - how the news of the death might effect public opinion of the war?

This is unclear.

Unfortunately I haven't been able to track down the transcript of the report Ruth Ann is writing about. So I can't actually check with the unidentified ABC reporter actually said. For instance, is the "doubt about the sacrifice" really "that heartfelt concern" or is there something else in that sentence there? If anyone has a transcript or a link, please sent it in.

Ruth Ann really should do some more homework, however. I have found this on the ABCNews website. Granted, it's an AP wire story, but the fifth and sixth paragraphs read:
Tucker's family grieved in private, saying in a statement they were devastated by the news, but were heartened by the community support.

"Tom has gained a much larger family through this ordeal than he had when he left home to go help to free the Iraqi people and protect his country from the threat of terrorism," the family said. [emphasis added]
The question is, if Ruth Ann Dailey is correct and ABCNews is willing to erase half a sentence to make its news skew closer to its ideology, then why allow the AP news piece on its website?

I'll end with Ruth Ann's own words:
When a news consumer's critical examination of a story leads too often to such negative assessment, he's likely to conclude that a reporter went looking for evidence to fit his theory -- an utter failure of the job's primary challenge.
Ok, then.

June 25, 2006

Colin McNickle on Rick Santorum's Election Chances

So overcome with paralysing self-doubt that I indeed AM a biased liberal, I decided to devote one whole blog entry to a column from a Trib columnist - Colin McNickle. Say what you will about the man, he's hardly a lefty.

Here's what he wrote today about our junior Senator, Rick Santorum.
Fifteen months ago, this political goggler predicted Santorum would lose to Casey. That prediction stands. Not because Casey is any alternative -- he'll be eaten alive in Washington, conscripted by the Teddy Kennedy wing of the Democratic Party to do its bidding -- but because Santorum has become, as was written at the time, "an unprincipled pandering opportunist."
Wow. I am so glad that McNickle had the cajones to write that. Now I guess I can write the exact same thing WITHOUT being accused of letting my politics sway my judgement.

Rick Santorum's an "unprincipled pandering opportunist" who will probably lose in November.

The numbers are horrid, according to McNickle.
The latest Quinnipiac University Poll has Democrat Bobby Casey re-stretching his lead over Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum to 18 percentage points, 52-34 percent, six points outside the 12 percent who remain undecided. The 52-34 ratio is the same as last October.
And
But the real story of this poll is that nearly half of Mr. Casey's support -- 44 percent -- isn't for Casey at all but against Santorum.
And
And if these numbers are genuinely representative of the electorate, OUCH, for even 35 percent of Republicans don't think much of Santorum. [emphasis added]
That's about a third, by the way. And then there's
It's pretty difficult to argue that you've served your state well when darn near half your opponent's "support" really is just those who think you're a dolt.
Dolt - that's funny.

He does point to some evidence that, as he says, "Santorum has not helped his cause as of late."
Santorum may have been technically correct last week about the discovery of some weapons of mass destruction. But his involvement in publicizing previously classified information came with all the sincerity of a pol in trouble -- a hastily called news conference to trumpet what, in effect, was old and not all that significant news of WMD that, according to one official, were pre-Gulf War I and perhaps not even in useable condition.

That said, had this truly been stop-the-presses news, it would have been President George W. Bush -- not the struggling No. 3 guy in the Senate -- pushing the button and making over the page to announce the "findings." What's next for Santorum, finding a cache of old liquor in some basement and declaring himself to be tough on "rum runners"? [emphasis added]
Wait - it looks like McNickle is NOT CONVINCED that Ricky's WMD were, in fact, dangerous.

Huh. Go figure.

And McNickle makes the argument we've been pointing out for a long time. If [insert debunked reason for going to war here] is actually true (and not false as the Bush-haters insist on asserting), then why isn't the administration pounding that point home at every opportunity?

Something else to ponder, I guess.

Colin McNickle thinks Santorum's a loser this November.

Good boy, Colin.

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June 23, 2006

Rick Santorum on KDKA today

I heard this on KDKA today.

Rick Santorum was on Fred Honsberger's radio program this afternoon . He was on (I guess) to try to stop the bleeding from his recent ridiculous remarks about Iraq's WMD.

I didn't hear the interview, but I did hear a snippet KDKA played on the news. When asked by Fred Honsberger about the hundreds of munitions that were found and whether they were too old to be used, Rick answered something about how Saddam has been out of power for a couple of years and so of course they're going to be "older."

That's his explanation?

Earlier in the afternoon, I saw that there was a sound file of the interview on the KDKA website.

Wouldn't you know that by 6pm IT WAS GONE.

Gee, I wonder why.

I'll try to find a transcript and/or a sound file.

Yes, our junior Senator is officially a loon.

Weapons of Minor Discomfort / Weapons of Major Distraction

Reality Check Time:

What Bush's former Iraq Survey Group chief, Dr. David Kay says about Lil Ricky Santorum's found "WMD":
They probably would have been intended for chemical attacks during the Iran-Iraq War, said David Kay, who headed the U.S. weapons-hunting team in Iraq from 2003 until early 2004.

He said experts on Iraq's chemical weapons are in "almost 100 percent agreement" that sarin nerve agent produced from the 1980s would no longer be dangerous.

"It is less toxic than most things that Americans have under their kitchen sink at this point," Kay said.

And any of Iraq's 1980s-era mustard would produce burns, but it is unlikely to be lethal, Kay said.

AND:

...that Senator Santorum's comments are, quote, "wrong as to the facts and exaggerated beyond all reason as to the interpretation of the facts."

What Joseph Cirincione, author of Deadly Arsenals: Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Threats, had to say
About the "danger" of the "WMD":
"an irritant"
About Rumsfeld's statement trying to back up Ricky:
"That is really parsing your words very ...intentionally misleading"
What the senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee has to say about the timing of the report's release:
"What worries me is that the intelligence community — Ambassador Negroponte in particular — may be playing a partisan role in the 2006 election," California Rep. Jane Harman .
So, was this some big cache of weapons? NO:
Intelligence officials said the munitions were found in ones, twos and maybe slightly larger collections over the past couple of years. One official conceded that these pre-Gulf War weapons did not pose a threat to the U.S. military before the 2003 invasion of Iraq. They were not maintained or part of any organized program run by Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein.
And, what does this make Tricky Ricky Santorum?
A big lying freak.

June 22, 2006

Duh! & WTF?!?

Heard some newsbunny on one of the all news channels yesterday say in reference to the two killed kidnapped GIs:


They're looking for what put those solders in harm's way in the first place.
Uh, duh!

It was this guy:



And speaking of that guy and the notorious Aug. 6, 2001 PDB that he ignored, from Tim Grieve at Salon's War Room who is reading Ron Suskind's new book, The One Percent Doctrine (via Daily KOS):

We've known for years now that George W. Bush received a presidential daily briefing on Aug. 6, 2001, in which he was warned: "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S." We've known for almost as long that Bush went fishing afterward.

What we didn't know is what happened in between the briefing and the fishing, and now Suskind is here to tell us. Bush listened to the briefing, Suskind says, then told the CIA briefer: "All right. You've covered your ass, now."
WTF?!?


(h/t to Shakespeare's Sister for the video)

Pittsburgh's SEIU Local 3 in Time Magzine & BLOCK PARTY!

Justice for Janitors: A Tale of Two Cities

I've loved these guys ever since they came on strong for Howard Dean. From SEIU Local 3's press release on the TIME Magazine story:

In the current issue of TIME magazine that hits the newsstands today, TIME magazine staff writer Jeremy Caplan compares janitors in two similar rustbelt cities, Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, and describes the positive effect that the Union, SEIU Local 3, has had on wages and benefits for Pittsburgh janitors. He also highlights how the better wages for janitors have improved "…the lives of their families and the economic and social welfare of the cities in which they live."

The article features two janitors - Robyn Gray from Pittsburgh and Craig Jones from Cincinnati. Craig earns $6.50 an hour with no benefits and only part time work. This gives him a $260 biweekly paycheck. Very little is left over after his monthly rent of $215. Robyn, in contrast, makes $12.52 and hour with health care and vacation time. Because of Robyn's job, she and her husband have been able to send their two daughters to college and own their own home.

The article also states that Pittsburgh neighborhoods where janitors live have benefited from their higher wages and benefits. It cites an increase in home ownership, a 3% increase in median household income, and a decrease in families below the poverty line. The job turnover rate for Cincinnati janitors can be as high as 300% leading to economic dislocation in the neighborhoods where janitors live. In Pittsburgh, turnover rates are a tenth of those in Cincinnati.
Read the article HERE and then attend Justice for Janitors Day "Justice Block Party for Fair Development Downtown" on June 30.

The event which is cosponsored by Local 3, the League of Young of Young Voters, The Merton Center and the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network, is celebrating fair development, fair transit and fair employment in one of Pittsburgh's most important neighborhoods - downtown. The event is being held on the 600 block of Smithfield Street from 9:00 until 3:00.

Rick Santorum is a complete loon

Dammit timing is everything in this business. I was gonna blog on lil Ricky but the Other Political Junkie beat me to it. Dammit.

I couldn't blog on it then as I was at the Funnybone at Station Square watching Bill Scott, Gab Bonesso, John McIntire, and Gene Collier crack wise while dropping the f-bomb every 9 seconds or so.

It was all very funny. It was worth the price of admission alone to hear Gene Collier ramble on about the largest penis he'd ever seen. Or McIntire's story on how NOT to fuck up a marriage. Gab (can I call you "Gab"? THANKS!) was bouncing around so much I worried about the structural integrity of the stage. Emcee Bill Scott did a great job keeping everything going.

On the "name-dropping" front, I sat with my friends Sue and Laura and Councilman Bill Peduto. I had a beer. Peduto had a chicken sandwich and was dissappointed at the Funnybone's lack of dijon mustard.

Let me just say a few things about Lil Ricky's latest attempt to dig his sorry ass out of a double-digit deficit.

Our junior Senator from Pennsylavania, denouncer of masturbation and man-on-dog sex, protector of pre-natal feti everywhere, has finally showed us to be the loon that, in the quiet corners of our brains, we already knew him to be.

The report he talked about dates back to April. The "information" in it is from 2004. And so I'll ask it again, if the proof is there (about Iraq's WMD) then why hasn't the Bush Administration used it to publicly denounce all its war critics (60% of the population or something) as absolutely positively wrong?

The fact that they haven't shows exactly how bogus Rick's "information" is. And exactly how much of a turd the seesucker wearer is.

Rick Santorum - public loon.

I endorse Bob Casey because Tricky Ricky is the most evil, lying, opportunistic fuck on the planet

From Think Progress:

Defense Department Disavows Santorum’s WMD Claims

Today, Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) and Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) held a press conference and announced “we have found weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.” Santorum and Hoekstra are hyping a document that describes degraded, pre-1991 munitions that were already acknowledged by the White House’s Iraq Survey Group and dismissed.

Fox News’ Jim Angle contacted the Defense Department who quickly disavowed Santorum and Hoekstra’s claims. A Defense Department official told Angle flatly that the munitions hyped by Santorum and Hoekstra are “not the WMD’s for which this country went to war.”
Tricky Ricky is a desperate. Down by 18 points against his opponent, Bob Casey, he will say or do anything. If he ever had any honor or scruples (doubtful at best), they are now gone. He is pissing all over our troops and what's left of our country's reputation.

As Atrios puts it:

Dying for Ricky's Bullshit

Despite my reputation for seething blogospheric rage, I'm actually rarely that angry, but little Ricky lying about what's going on in Iraq, putting his party and his re-election above country while shitting all over the soldiers that are in harm's way really pisses me off.

What a fucking wanker.
He is a lying freak.

As Imus put it this morning:

I like Santorum and Sean Hannity, but they're crazy people. (you can watch Santorum later this morning -- around 8:30am -- on Imus on MSNBC.
Rick Santorum: LYING, BATSHIT CRAZY FREAK.

Vote for
Bob Casey.


Yeah, that's right.

I said it.

As anyone who's ever read this blog knows, I can't stand that goddamn anti-choice, lisping, Alito-loving wuss Bob Casey, but Lil Ricky has finally done the impossible -- he's got me endorsing BOB CASEY -- and for that, I hate him even more.

FUCK YOU, RICKY


June 21, 2006

Rick Santorum - the Choice for Women

I'm not sure which is goofier. Ricky Santorum busting a gasket in a panic about how Democratic Operatives were trespassing at the house he's almost never in or Ricky Santorum claiming to be a "pro-woman" candidate.

That's right. But isn't there something wrong with the article's first paragraph?
A former presidential adviser and one-time host of CNN’s "Crossfire" was in Cumberland County Monday to tout Sen. Rick Santorum as a "pro-woman" candidate most in touch with issues women face.
The piece is about Ricky Santorum, so why does it begin by talking about Mary Matalin? Anyway, let's take a look to see exactly HOW Ricky's been such a good "pro-woman" candidate.

On Birth control (I found this at Santorumexposed):
"I don't think it works. I think it's harmful to women, I think it's harmful to our society to have a society that says that sex outside of marriage is something that should be encouraged or tolerated, particularly among the young. I think it has, as we've seen, very harmful long-term consequences for society. So birth control to me enables that and I don't think it's a healthy thing for our country."

--CN8's "Nitebeat with Barry Nolan", July 28, 2005.
On the education of unmarried mothers (again found at Santorumexposed):
"The notion that college education is a cost-effective way to help poor, low-skill, unmarried mothers with high school diplomas or GEDs move up the economic ladder is just wrong."

--It Takes a Family, Pg. 138, July 2005.
So birth control is bad. But if it's not used, an unwanted pregnancy may occur. And if that happens and the woman who's given birth is poor, it's not a good idea for her to try to get a college education.

Rick Santorum - The "pro-woman" candidate.

More Trouble for Ricky Santorum

From the AP:
Bob Casey's lead over U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum has stretched to 18 percentage points since early May, as Casey picked up new support and the Republican incumbent's approval rating skidded to a four-year low, according to a poll released Wednesday.

Casey, Pennsylvania's Democratic state treasurer, leads Santorum 52 percent to 34 percent - the biggest margin since October, when the numbers were the same, according to the Quinnipiac University poll. [emphasis added]
Wait, there's more bad news:
Only 38 percent of the respondents said they approved of the way Santorum, the third-ranking Republican in the Senate, is handling his job. Forty-five percent said they disapproved and 16 percent did not express an opinion.

It was the first time the senator's approval rating had dropped below 40 percent since Quinnipiac began measuring it in June 2002. It also was the latest sign of distress for the outspoken conservative, an ally of President Bush on issues that included a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and private savings accounts for Social Security. [emphasis added]
And:
The latest survey had Casey running strongest in his native northeast region, as well as in and around the Democratic strongholds of Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Santorum garnered less than 40 percent support in all areas except central Pennsylvania, where 42 percent of voters backed him.
He's only getting 42% in central PA? Oh Ricky, that's gotta hurt!

They're very careful to say it's still early, polls don't mean that much this early on, blah-blah-blah.

But I guess Lil Ricky's tantrum over the non-existent trespassing didn't help out his poll numbers, huh?

June 20, 2006

Bush's War on Terror

I picked up something interesting today. It's been bouncing around the blogosphere and so I apologise in advance if you've already seen it.

Via atrios, and then TPMCafe I found this at the Washington Post. You've probably seen these paragraphs elsewhere, but they're so important you might want to memorize them. It's a review by Barton Gellman of Ron Suskind's book titled The One Percent Doctrine.
One example out of many comes in Ron Suskind's gripping narrative of what the White House has celebrated as one of the war's major victories: the capture of Abu Zubaydah in Pakistan in March 2002. Described as al-Qaeda's chief of operations even after U.S. and Pakistani forces kicked down his door in Faisalabad, the Saudi-born jihadist was the first al-Qaeda detainee to be shipped to a secret prison abroad. Suskind shatters the official story line here.

Abu Zubaydah, his captors discovered, turned out to be mentally ill and nothing like the pivotal figure they supposed him to be. CIA and FBI analysts, poring over a diary he kept for more than a decade, found entries "in the voice of three people: Hani 1, Hani 2, and Hani 3" -- a boy, a young man and a middle-aged alter ego. All three recorded in numbing detail "what people ate, or wore, or trifling things they said." Dan Coleman, then the FBI's top al-Qaeda analyst, told a senior bureau official, "This guy is insane, certifiable, split personality."
So the guy was severely mentally ill - and they (including the Bush and Cheney) all knew it. They also knew he was "al-Qaeda's go-to guy for minor logistics -- travel for wives and children" and yet according to this book, two weeks later Bush said publicly, that Zubaydah was "one of the top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States."

Take a look at what Bush actually said. We was speaking in Greenwich, CT to the Connecticut Republican Committee on April 9, 2002:
The other day we hauled in a guy named Abu Zubaydah. He's one of the top operatives plotting and planning death and destruction on the United States. He's not plotting and planning anymore. He's where he belongs. (Applause.)
I'm so glad the line got applause - heartwarming, really. And what was happening at that point to this "insane, certifiable, split personality" guy who did the "minor logistics" for al-Qaeda wives and children? The review continues:
They strapped Abu Zubaydah to a water-board, which reproduces the agony of drowning. They threatened him with certain death. They withheld medication. They bombarded him with deafening noise and harsh lights, depriving him of sleep.
So what do you think happened?
[H]e began to speak of plots of every variety -- against shopping malls, banks, supermarkets, water systems, nuclear plants, apartment buildings, the Brooklyn Bridge, the Statue of Liberty. With each new tale, "thousands of uniformed men and women raced in a panic to each . . . target."
I wonder how many of those plots were, well, you know, like uh true? I mean considering the man's split personalities and his state of duress under such "quaint" torture. The review ends with one last quotation from Suskind:
the United States would torture a mentally disturbed man and then leap, screaming, at every word he uttered.
The important thing to note, of course, is that they knew he was mentally ill when they were doing it.

Another tidbit from the review:
"I said he was important," Bush reportedly told Tenet at one of their daily meetings. "You're not going to let me lose face on this, are you?"
Lose face? Of course not! It's just completely ok for the United States of America to torture a man with multiple personalities and then waste the time and money (that could have been better spent elsewhere) tracking down all those torture-squeezed rantings just to make sure that Dubya doesn't lose face.

I'll say it again.

IMPEACH

Role Models

Kevin Spacey who is playing archvillain Lex Luthor in Superman Returns said that he based his character on another character who's been in the news lately:
"There's a lot of [former Enron chairman] Ken Lay in him this time," smirks Spacey. "He is more smartly dressed than I think we have seen him looking before. I like to call the look General Rommel goes to dinner."



But 2 Political Junkies has learned via anonymous sources that another newsmaker was considered by Spacey and then rejected as "too cartoonish." Spacey said, "Some choices are just too obvious. I mean, c'mon, he shot an old guy in the face! It's just a little too spot on for the Superman series. Better to leave that sort of thing to Batman movies."***



We, here at 2PJ, say it's about time for a new generation of archvillains to appear in the Superman movies. Say, one who captures the unique combination of sanctimony, hypocrisy, pure evil and bad fashion sense that embody the wicked scoundrels of our times.

With that, we humbly suggest a new archvillian for a new century:



SEERSUCKER MAN!



***All quotes are guaranteed 100% non-verbatim!

June 19, 2006

Gitmo Suicides: Inmates Unaware they had Defense Lawyers

Maybe they wouldn't have committed an "act of asymetric warfare" if they had known that they had lawyers...

From Daily KOS:
Just when you thought that Guantanamo coudn't get any more embarrassing for the U.S.A., we get this breaking news from Knight Ridder. 2 of the men who committed suicide had lawyers, but were unaware that they were represented. 1 of the men had no lawyer and was a juvenile when first brought to Guantanamo.
From the Miami Herald:
The Yemeni captive who killed himself at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, had an attorney arranging to visit him in August, but did not know it when he committed suicide.

One of the Saudis, Mani Shaman al Utaybi, 30, had been approved for transfer to a jail back home, but also had never been told he was cleared to depart the U.S. detention center.

As the Pentagon was silent Thursday on the repatriation of the bodies of the three men from the island prison, their lawyers questioned whether their isolation and lack of knowledge about their status contributed to their deaths.

Ya think?

Sometimes I get very upset with my friend who is planning to move to Canada. I don't think she should give up on the US. I think she should stay and fight. But then I read crap like this:
Both Engelhardt and attorney Jeff Davis of Charlotte, N.C., said government lawyers had thwarted repeated attempts to see their clients.
and I wonder what country I'm in.

Around the Burgh Blogs

Some members of Pittsburgh City Council reduce The Conversation to tears (and it ain't the happy kind).

Froth Slosh B'Gosh explains why Conservatives can't govern.

2PJ is adding The Carbolic Smoke Ball to our blog roll because it makes me laugh and because I'm lazy and am tired of having to go the roundabout way of going to Pittsburgh Bloggers to get to it.

Yankee Doodle Dandy!

In plenty of time for the 4th:

An Inconvenient Truth

I saw Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth on Friday and I recommend it highly. While through much of it I felt like I was viewing "The Day After Tomorrow: The Documentary" (some very scary shit), much like that fictional movie, this film does try to leave you with some hope at the end.

I will agree with the Pittsburgh City Paper's review however:
I do have one suggestion for Gore: Cut some of the ice-cap footage in favor of more explicitly calling the mainstream media on their abdication of facts, as they earnestly over the last decade worked to provide “both sides of the story.” There is no “other side” among scientists; the debunking of global warming has been a PR campaign waged by interested parties. But the media’s complicity — witness the attention paid to State of Fear, Michael Crichton’s global-warming-is-a-crock novel—has helped create the popular misconception that global warming is a theory that doesn’t even have accord within the scientific community. Big chunks of the Arctic melting is a remote abstraction, but helping people get savvy about media is part of the larger solution.Truth also gives a wide berth to politics — Gore calls out just one bad apple in the Bush administration, as if both sides of the aisle aren’t ignoring fresh policy in favor of self-interest, laziness or some other reliable political trait. That gang we’ve elected can’t even mandate U.S. autos to match the efficiency of cars in China, our partner in consumption and ecological villainy.
And speaking of lies and the lying liars who tell them, check out David Sirota's KOS diary on his exchange with ABC News "reporter" John Stossel on CNBC. Stossel used to be a consumer advocate but now he never met a multinational corporation (or Republican idea) he didn't like. Here's the money shot in their debate on the minimum wage:
Mr. SIROTA: Well, listen, John, I would encourage you stop reciting these dishonest talking points and the chatter you're hearing on the cocktail party circuit because the stats don't bear that out in any way at all. And here are the stats that you cannot dispute. In states that have raised the minimum wage, above the federal level, those states have created jobs at a far faster rate than the states that have not. That is because, when you raise the minimum wage, you put money into the pockets of people who will spend it and it spurs the economy. Now, that might not be heard in your book which purports to debunk lies, but those are the facts.

Mr. STOSSEL: Well, if those are the facts, why stop at $7. We should pay everybody 20 bucks, 40 bucks an hour. Then we'll really have buying power. It's just...

Mr. SIROTA: You're changing the subject. You're changing the subject because you know you're wrong.

Mr. STOSSEL: Well, the study side, and I now realize who you are because you, on my Amazon page, he came on and said, `I'm a smarmy-looking liar.'

Mr. SIROTA: You are.
Hahahahaha! That's telling 'em!

******************************************
An Inconvenient Truth
Manor Theatre
1729 Murray Ave
Pittsburgh, PA 15217
Phone: 412-422-7729

June 16, 2006

Another Ruth Ann Dailey Follow-up

Looks like the Post-Gazette has issued a correction to the Ruth Ann Dailey column I wrote about here and here.

Take a look. Way down at the bottom of the page the P-G posted this:
Correction/Clarification: (Published June 13, 2006) This installment of Ruth Ann Dailey's column for June 12, 2006 editions incorrectly said only one blogger on DailyKos.com had commented on the death of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi. A further search of the Web site showed more threads where users posted comments on the topic. [emphasis added]
Actually, it was Ruth Ann who was incorrect. It was Ruth Ann who didn't do a "further search" before the P-G published what she wrote.

It would be nice to presume that this blog had anything to do with the P-G's correction, but as I don't have any evidence either way, I'll just have to smile smugly and remain (more or less) silent about it.

All the News You Need to Know!

1. Hot Vacation Destination!

(It's not just Springtime for Hitler -- it's anytime!)

2.
Santorum Makes the "Great Moments in Senate Fashion" List!

(Ricky pulls off the tricky Great-Gatsby-meets-My-Little-Pony look!)


and...


3.
Ann Coulter Identifies John Murtha as a Target for Murder

(It's called "fragging" and it's SO HOT!)

Stephen Hawking in the News

I read this yesterday and I was confused.
Acclaimed physicist Stephen Hawking has said that humanity is finally getting close to understanding the origin of the universe.

Speaking at a lecture in Hong Kong, Hawking said that despite some theoretical advances in the past years, there are still mysteries as to how the universe began.

"Despite having had some great successes, not everything is solved. We do not yet have good theoretical understanding of the observation of the expansion of the universe," he told an audience of 2,500 at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.

"Without such understanding, we cannot be sure of the future of the universe.

"New observational results and theoretical advances are coming in rapidly; cosmology is a very exciting subject. We are getting close to answering these old questions: why are we here, where did we come from?"
I don't understand why Hawking and his ilk even bother. I realize he's based in England, but I am sure there are many many "scientists" teaching here at our taxpayer-funded universities or in our public schools in America who'd agree with him.

All this "research" into a godless cosmology is a waste of money, isn't it? I mean we already know the answers, don't we? It's so obvious that even people with no scientific training whatsoever sitting on school boards across the country can see the plain truth.

We don't need any multi-billion dollar "research" to tell us what we already know deep in our hearts: The universe is so complicated it must've been designed. Therefore there must've been A Designer. So however the universe looks, The Designer must've wanted it to look that way. So any research into it is, in effect, questioning the authenticity of The Design - so it shouldn't be done, it should just be accepted. End of story. No need to research any farther.

So all that money wasted on "science" should, instead, be put to better use by being handed off to our great nation's faith based charities. We need to start teaching our children the real truth:
  • America is a Christian Nation.
  • Jesus wants us to drill for oil in Alaska.
  • Whatever The United States does it's the right thing to do.
  • The fossil record proves that "ancient" man and the dinosaurs co-existed.
  • The jury is still out on global warming.
  • Our God is bigger than their God.
  • Marriage is a sacred bond between a man and a woman.
  • Sex is for making babies.
  • You can catch AIDS through tears and sweat.
  • STDs are God's punishment for immoral behavior.
  • God hates homosexuals.
There. I feel better now. Feel free to add any other obvious truths in the comments section.

June 15, 2006

2,500 (In case you didn't already know)

Read this.
The number of US troops killed in Iraq has reached 2,500 with the death of a marine, the Pentagon has announced.
Each death completely unnecessary. Where are the WMD? Where were the connections to al-qaeda? Tell me again how the war in Iraq is connected to 9/11?
The campaign group Iraq Body Count estimates that the number of civilians killed since the outset of the conflict ranges between 38,355 and 42,747.

It makes its calculation on the basis of media reports, and believes it to be a conservative estimate.

Other reports put the number of civilian casualties much higher.

Thousands of Iraqi security forces, military personnel from other countries, and Iraqi and foreign insurgents have also died.
Each death completely unnecessary. Where are the WMD? Where were the connections to al-qaeda? Tell me again how the war in Iraq is connected to 9/11?

2,500 is just a number. The 2,501st death is no more or less tragic than the 2499th. Or the 1st.

Arrogant Little Git

By now you may have seen this exchange that took place at yesterday's White House press conference between Dumbya and Peter Wallsten of the Los Angeles Times:
Bush: Yes, Peter. Are you going to ask that question with shades on?

Wallsten: I can take them off.

Bush: I’m interested in the shade look, seriously.

Wallsten: All right, I’ll keep it, then.

Bush: For the viewers, there’s no sun. (Laughter)

Wallsten I guess it depends on your perspective. (Laughter)

Bush: Touche. (Laughter)
Wallsten was wearing shades because he is legally blind.

He has a rare genetic disorder called Stargardt’s Disease. The disease is a form of macular degeneration that can be slowed “by wearing UV-protective sunglasses and avoiding exposure to bright light.”

Now Wallsten has said that there was no reason that Bush should know that he needed the shades to protect what's left of his sight and Bush later apologized, so end of story?

I don't think so...

Peter Daou thinks that Bush's "humor" is misplaced:
"Bush's clownish banter with reporters - which is on constant display during press conferences - stands in such stark contrast to his administration's destructive policies and to the gravity of the bloodbath in Iraq that it is deeply unsettling to watch. This may be impolitic, but wouldn't refraining from frat-style horseplay be appropriate for this man? Or at the least, can't reporters suppress their raucous laughter every time he blurts out another jibe... the way they did when Colbert put them in their place?"
But, its more than that.

I agree with Daou that Digby's got it right when he commented about this AP story:

He stopped by Broward Community College, where government officials set up tents and tables with laptops to help dozens of seniors there choose among the myriad plan options available.

Bush visited with some waiting in a courtyard where Frank Sinatra's "Young At Heart" played on the loudspeakers, then he went indoors where people were looking over the laptops. He walked around giving handshakes and hugs to those who rose for his entrance, and greeted a man who remained sitting in a wheelchair with, "You look mighty comfortable." (emphasis added)
Digby said regarding this incident:


"There's an interesting simple psychology involved in such things. If someone can coerce those in a group to help him attack a single member they become his accomplices. For instance, getting everybody in the press corps to laugh at a reporter's baldness makes those reporters part of the president's gang. And, of course, it intimidates them. If they stray, they too will be subject to that kind of public humiliation. It's the evil fratboy theory of social relations, very primitive stuff. That Bush may be reduced to plying this unconsciously with senior citizens in wheelchairs is not surprising, given his poll numbers."
Now, watch the video of the Bush/Wallsten exchange at Crooks & Liars.

Bush is being pissy when he first asks, "Are you going to ask that question with shades on?"
Maybe he wanted to be able to look into Wallsten's soul, but I think this is just another example of Bush's supreme arrogance. Remember how upset he got with a reporter for calling him "sir" instead of "Mr. President?" I think Bush somehow believed that Wallsten addressing him in "shades" wasn't being servile enough.

For a great example of Bush's real character, take a look at this video.

You'll see that "during a commercial break on the David Letterman show, producer Maria Pope was on stage and discussing something with Letterman, and while she was standing there in front of Bush, George leaned forward, grabbed the back of her sweater and used it to clean his glasses."

That's the shitty little frat boy in action.

That's an arrogant little git.

June 14, 2006

Carlisle Impeachment Drive Launched

It takes only 20 signatures from registered voters in a Pittsburgh City Council district to launch impeachment proceedings against a council member. According to today's Post-Gazette, Homewood resident Phillip Martin began circulating his impeachment petition against Councilwoman Twanda Carlisle in the morning and had 17 signers by lunch that same day.

The P-G also reports:

The process involves Common Pleas Court, an investigative committee and, if the court approves, a hearing before other members of council. Council has never held an impeachment hearing.

"I don't know what grounds there would be," said Ms. Carlisle. She said she would not say more without seeing the petition.

[snip]

The city charter says an elected official can be removed from office for "mental incapacity, incompetency, neglect of duty malfeasance, mismanagement or for any corrupt act or practice."

Any impeachment petition goes to Common Pleas Court, where a judge rules on whether it sets forth "reasonable grounds" for an official's removal from office. If so, the court appoints an investigating committee that crafts a written report.

If the report finds that there are grounds for removal, the president judge of Common Pleas Court presides over a session of council in which the members decide the guilt or innocence of the accused. The solicitor serves as prosecutor.

The most recent council impeachment effort occurred in 1997, when residents tried to oust then-Councilman Joseph Cusick, who had drug and alcohol problems and was accused of misspending. Common Pleas Judge Robert E. Dauer dismissed that petition.

Ms. Carlisle is up for reelection next year.

Full story HERE.

Caption This Photo!


Accompanying the president on his surprise trip to Iraq, press
secretary Tony Snow, left, and White House counselor Dan
Bartlett ride in a military helicopter from Baghdad International
Airport to the U.S. Embassy in the Green Zone.
(By Pablo Martinez Monsivais -- Associated Press)

Nice to know Bush ushered in a culture of responsibility

Analysis from the AP:
The decision not to charge Karl Rove shows there often are no consequences for misleading the public.
Before our trolls begin to beat the drum of "Fitzgerald didn't charge Rove - that means he's innocent!" I'll let the AP piece remind us of the truth:
In 2003, while Rove allowed the White House to tell the news media that he had no role in leaking Valerie Plame's CIA identity, the presidential aide was secretly telling the FBI the truth.

It's now known that Rove had discussed Plame's CIA employment with conservative columnist Robert Novak, who exposed her identity less than a week later, citing two unidentified senior administration officials.

Rove's truth-telling to the FBI saved him from indictment.

And by misleading reporters, the White House saved itself from a political liability during the 2004 presidential campaign.
Wow. We shouldn't forget what our AWOL president had to say about the leak. There was a press conference in June of 2004:
Q Given -- given recent developments in the CIA leak case, particularly Vice President Cheney's discussions with the investigators, do you still stand by what you said several months ago, a suggestion that it might be difficult to identify anybody who leaked the agent's name?

THE PRESIDENT: That's up to --

Q And, and, do you stand by your pledge to fire anyone found to have done so?

THE PRESIDENT: Yes. And that's up to the U.S. Attorney to find the facts.[emphasis added]
Now of course we know that Bush did an Orwellian redefinition to promise to fire anyone convicted of a crime...blah, blah, blah.
President Bush said Monday that if anyone on his staff committed a crime in the CIA leak case, that person will "no longer work in my administration."
And:
Mr. Bush's latest comments marked a change of language and emphasis from his past assertions that anyone involved in leaking the name of agent Valerie Plame would be fired.
Lies and deception from the Bush Whitehouse - who'da thunk it? I've posted this before (on that other paragon of virtue, Rick Santorum), but these guys are living the line from Animal Farm:
All animals are created equal, but some are more equal than others.
And speaking of Rove, I found this (via Crooksandliars). On the one hand we have the unindicted Rove being quoted as saying:
"They may be with you for the first few bullets but they won't be there for the last tough battles."

-- Karl Rove, on John Kerry and John Murtha, Reuters, 6/13
Remember, these guys (Kerry and Murtha) served our nation and were wounded in battle. They both were awarded Purple Hearts and were given medals for valor. But when it was time for Rove to serve his country, what happened? Via talkleft, I found this at the Salt Lake Tribune.
Except for a lapse of several months, Selective Service records show presidential adviser Karl Rove escaped the draft for nearly three years at the height of the Vietnam War using student deferments.
There was even a time (when he was working in DC as the head of the College Republicans) where he wasn't in school and yet he wasn't drafted. I wonder how the head of the College Republicans during the Nixon administration was able to pull that one off.

Quite the brave man with other people's lives, I guess.

June 13, 2006

Pittsburgh PrideFest!



Pittsburgh PrideFest is this week. Festivities include:

Tuesday, June 13, 2006 - Pittsburgh City Council approved the PrideFest Proclamation*** sponsored by Councilmember Tonya Payne

Thursday, June 15-25 2006 - The 3rd Annual Pittsburgh Pride Theater Festival

Friday, June 16, 2006 - Pittsburgh's 1st Dyke March kicks off at the Carnegie Mellon lawn at Forbes & Moorewood Avenue.

Friday, June 16, 2006 - Pride Movie by the Pittsburgh Lesbian & Gay Film Society. "Say Uncle"

Saturday, June 17, 2006 - Pittsburgh PrideFest
Awareness March - kicks off at Ross Street at 12 PM

Festival - 1 PM - 5 PM at Riverfront Park on the North Shore (near Heinz Field)

Pride Night at PNC Park
Sunday, June 18, 2006 - Family Pride Pancake Brunch at East Liberty Presbyterian Church. 10 AM worship; 11:30 am brunch.


Go to http://www.glccpgh.org/PrideFest/pridefest.htm for more details and then go to Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents for rumors on special guests.


***Some mother/son freak act tried to rain on the parade during the City Council meeting by damning our fair burg to hell n'at because of the proclamation.

"God Save the Internet"

It's what all the kool kidz are listening to...

Jesus and Ghandi wouldn't mess with the Internet!

At least not according to this tongue-in-cheek song by The Broadband (Kay Hanley, Jill Sobule, and Michelle Lewis).

Listen/download HERE.

Then use their form to write your representatives.

Not even to save the life of the mother...

As if the Rove thing wasn't depressing enough, from Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents (with h/t to feministing):
A bill outlawing all abortions - even in the case of rape, incest or to save the life of the mother -- is scheduled for a hearing in the Ohio House of Representatives on Tuesday.

Right wing antics to win elections? You bet. Tapping into misogeny to garner votes? Absolutely.

This piece legislation has 18 co-sponsors.

Yet another reason I'm glad there's a bit of West Virginia between me and most of Ohio.


Craven? Yes.

And, they just hate women...and s-e-x.

Rove Non-indictment Analysis

Good stuff from firedoglake including this:
Here’s what I do know: Karl Rove has been moved out of his palatial White House digs into a smaller, windowless room across the hall. Joshua Bolten has been wielding more and more influence with Bush of late, and Rove has slunk back into the background for the moment. In DC, loss of power and influence — even if it is only the perception of it — can be a painful thing. But for Rove, the most painful thing of all would be for the Democrats to re-take Congress. Guess what I’m going to be working on for the next few months? Help me mete out a little justice in the form of a Democratic victory this fall, won’t you?

And Dick Cheney? Well, his worst nightmare is anyone finding out about what he has been doing the last five years, hence all the secrecy and the selective classification and such. Won’t his time on the witness stand be precious? And wouldn’t he just looooove a Democratically-controlled House and Senate? Oh, if ever there were incentive to work your ass off for the Democratic candidate of your choice, this is it.

NYT: "Rove Won't Be Charged in C.I.A. Leak Case"

Story here.

I'm with the guy who just called into C-SPAN's Washington Journal who said:
"Now that Karl Rove is 'innocent,' he can go out and help OJ find the 'real killers.'"


UPDATE:

June 12, 2006

Ruth Ann Dailey A Follow-up

I guess I don't need to do much research to do this follow-up.

Buried deep in the comments section of this morning's posting, someone who wishes to remain anonymous (though I am guessing it's not our famous "anonymous" troll, Braden) did a little research in a very short period of time and found quite a few examples of bloggers "on the left" who weren't actually silent about the death of al-Zarqawi. Remember what Ruth Ann Dailey said:
If silence often speaks louder than words, then for one day last week the silence on the American left was deafening.[emphasis added]
Remember that word: silence. She said that the left was silent. Not that it was on the wrong side of the issue or that it wasn't being supportive enough to the troops. She said the left was silent:
But the silence on left-wing opinion pages and blogs was nearly complete.
And nearly complete.

Let me tell you, it's always a treat to be able to do something like this.

Let me start with anonymous' research. Here's the first link 9:55am on 6/8/6. Here's what it said:
Was never quite sure why we didn't go after him when we had the chance.

Anyway, I'm supposed to give the obligatory "YAY USA!" cheer here, but while it's good to get the bad guys I don't really think it's going to improve much. Hopefully I'm wrong.
The link points to another blog that eventually gets us to a MSNBC article (from March 2004) that says that Bush could have killed al-Zarqawi before the war but didn't. One of the reasons?
Military officials insist their case for attacking Zarqawi’s operation was airtight, but the administration feared destroying the terrorist camp in Iraq could undercut its case for war against Saddam.
Oh.

Here's the next link. It's from the dailykos. That was the blog where Ruth Ann said there was just ONE blogger (Bill in Portland, I believe) who blogged on al-Zarqawi's death. Georgia10 (who's an expert on the NSA domestic spying case, by the way) posted this Thursday at about 4:58 PDT (which I assume is about 8am local time).

Here's another from the dailykos. It's Georgia10 again. That's twice Ruth Ann missed this particular writer.
Understandably, there is a lot of media coverage on Zarqawi today. In all the hours and hours of coverage, has anyone mentioned that the President could have killed Zarqawi before the Iraq War but chose not to? Or that he was caught and then released to kill again by an incompetent Iraqi government?
The first link goes to the an Australian paper that described how al-Zarqawi was allowed to escape by the Bush administration. The second link goes to a CNN article that describes how the Iraqis caught and then released al-Zarqawi.

Ruth Ann could have argued that the left was being disrespectful, but she said the left was silent.

Funny, doesn't look like it.

Here's a link to the Washington Monthly. The second link offered by "anonymous" confirms the first.

Here's something from firedoglake.

And so on. There's obviously much more. The left was obviously not silent. Ruth Ann was obviously quite wrong. Will she be correcting the record any time soon? Obviously, I'd be wrong if I thought so.

I'll give anonymous some blog space to end things here (thanks anonymous!):
1. Exactly how much research did Ruth Ann Dailey do prior to submitting her piece?
Um, very little. But that's par for the course for rightwing pundits and trolls everywhere.
2. How carefully did the editors at P-G look at Ms Dailey's "facts" prior to publishing it?
I'll let that rhetorical question filter through the internets. You can decide for yourselves.

33%

Via atrios, I found this.

The fun part is way down the bottom. If dubya was thinking that the death of al-Zarqawi was going to help him politically, if this the new data show is accurate, he was wa-a-a-a-ay wrong:
Zarqawi's killing hasn't helped President Bush with the public, either. His overall job approval rating remains just 33 percent — down slightly from 35 percent last month — while 60 percent disapprove.
Uh-oh. They said "down slightly."

Dubya really is an awful president, isn't he?

Santorum Campaign Freaks Out Over One Itty Bitty Post Card!

You know, you'd really think that the numbnuts in the Santorum Campaign would stop drawing attention to the residency issue because:

1. They can't win.

2. They always end up looking really stupid.

The latest example is this story in today's The Philadelphia Inquirer (Yeah, I'm quoting the entire thing because it's short and I'm quoted in it):
Prank postcard finds Santorum at home

This was one piece of mail the sender hoped wouldn't get delivered.

After the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette editorial board wrote last month that a letter it sent to U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum's Penn Hills home was returned as "Not Deliverable as Addressed - Unable to Forward," the group Democracy for Pittsburgh launched a similar test.

Within days, a postcard of scenic Pittsburgh with a snarky dispatch - "Hope you are having a great time in Virginia!" - was on its way to Santorum's home in the Pittsburgh suburbs.

Democracy for Pittsburgh, a longstanding critic of Santorum for spending much of his time at his Virginia home, wanted "to see if we could get the same results" as the Post-Gazette, said Maria Lupinacci, a group spokeswoman.

This time, however, the U.S. Postal Service delivered.

The Santorums picked up the postcard while staying at the house during the week after Memorial Day.

"Childish prank," said Virginia Davis, Santorum's spokeswoman. "The Santorums live in that house. It is their home. They receive mail there all the time."

So is the issue now moot because the postcard arrived?

"It doesn't really prove anything as far I am concerned," Lupinacci said.

- Carrie Budoff
To be clear on some things:

1. Democracy for Pittsburgh is critical of Santorum for loads more than just the residency issue, but this one really seems to bug them the most.

2. Democracy for Pittsburgh did not alert the media -- the Santorum campaign did.

3. I did not personally send the post card. Another member of the group did, but I often serve as Democracy for Pittsburgh's spokesperson.

4. The Santorums had a couple of days to change their status at the post office between when this editorial appeared in the Post-Gazette and when the post card would have arrived (if they hadn't already when I'm guessing the P-G had to forward the materials to DC or Virginia).

5. The sender of the post card forgot to write "Do Not Forward" on it.

Points #4 and #5 are why I said that it didn't prove that the Santorums live there.

Here is where the Santorums do live. (Ricky admitted that he spent 90% of his time in DC "Because that's where I work," he said. And, why would the Santorum Kids have to be cyber schooled in VA if they lived in PA in the first place??)

As regards to the post card being "snarky" the Allegheny County GOP was far more snarky when they sent then-Republican Teresa Heinz paperwork to change her voter registration when she dared to criticize Rick Santorum during his 1994 U.S. Senate race.

What this story does prove is that the Santorum Campaign is so freaked out over the whole residency issue that a single post card sent them running and whining to the media.

My God, you can smell the desperation all the way from Virginia.


Should I now be expecting a call from the Capitol Police investigating the "prank" post card? (Now that's snark!)

A Subtle Admission from Ruth Ann Dailey

Take a look at her column today.

Let's assume for a moment that her main point is accurate that the "left is mostly mum" on Zarqawi's death (I don't think it is and I'll be blogging more on it tonight - she's wrong about the dailykos for instance). But then she states:
The biggest story in the United States and in much of the rest of the world Thursday was the air strike taking out the leader of al Qaida in Iraq. The deaths of Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and seven of his lieutenants have fascinating implications for both the war in Iraq and the sure-to-be-longer "worldwide war on terror," as CBS anchor Bob Schieffer termed it.

It was a tremendous victory for American intelligence-gathering and American troops, and for the overwhelming millions of Iraqis who want to live free. The network news divisions devoted much of their half-hour evening broadcasts to Zarqawi's death, the anchors even dropping their usual we're-not-rooting-for-either-side demeanor to communicate actual satisfaction.

On Friday it was still, appropriately, the lead story on their Web sites and those of some major American newspapers -- even before the posting of updates revealing that Zarqawi was still alive and mumbling when our troops found him. [emphasis added]
But wait - her first sentence is about the silence of the "American left." But then she goes on to say about how each network's evening news broadcasts devoted almost all of their time to his death.

But aren't the networks news divisions a big part of the mainstream media?

And isn't it "common knowledge" (at least among our friends on the Right) that mainstream media leans way left?

And didn't Ruth Ann Dailey write this:
Liberal bias pervades both broadcast and print media.
Only 18 months ago?

So how can she say that the left is "mostly mum" when she admits that the network news covered the story bigtime?

Unless of course the network news doesn't have a media bias.

But one tidbit. Ruth Ann writes:
On DailyKos.com, just one blogger had anything to say on the matter.[emphasis added]
But thanks to the Other Poltical Junkie's nimble fingered research, we see that there this posting at the dailykos at "Thu Jun 08, 2006 at 01:32:59 PM PDT". It begins:
Zarqawi the inhuman monster is dead. May Iraq have peace.
And then there's this from a differnet blogger (posted "Thu Jun 08, 2006 at 12:21:49 PM PDT"). It begins:
You remember that little scene from the Wizard of Of when the curtain is finally pulled back on the Wizard?

That's what Zarqawi's death reminds me of today. I believe that Zarqawi's death will actually turn out to be final nail in the coffin of public support for Bush's War in Iraq.
There's more, but I lack the time (or the patience) to go through the list.

The point is that if Ruth Ann Dailey is so wrong about something as simple as how many bloggers posted stuff about the death of al-Zarqawi at the dailykos, then how can we trust anything else in this column?

More later.

Precrime & The Disruptive Technology Office

From the Washington Post:
The government's prosecution of the "Virginia jihad network" has produced more guilty verdicts than any domestic terrorism case since Sept. 11 and symbolizes a new direction in the legal war on terrorism, government officials and experts said yesterday.

Some Muslims and lawyers have derided the probe that ended this week as the "paintball case," saying it targeted Muslim men who had done nothing more than innocuously play paintball in the woods and who never intended attacks inside the United States.

But prosecutors say that misses the point. With the breakup of an alleged terrorist plot in Canada this week heightening concerns about homegrown terrorists, federal officials point to the Virginia case as a prime example of their post-Sept. 11 mandate to focus on preventing attacks.

[snip]

"We're arresting people for talking about things, thinking about things, training for things," said Andrew McBride, a former federal prosecutor in Alexandria. "I think you will see more of it as the government moves from a traditional criminal law model of post-event reaction to pre-event interdiction. But that's where the civil liberties rubber meets the road."

[snip]

A juror, Robert Stosch, said yesterday that most panel members did not believe Chandia attended the camp but convicted him primarily because he had helped another defendant ship 50,000 paintballs for use by Lashkar.

But Stosch added that he thought the case "shouldn't have been brought at all. It was very insignificant." And he said the whole investigation was "way too minor, regardless of whether they convicted 11 people."

[snip]

Prosecutors presented no evidence that any of the 11 convicted men had planned U.S. attacks. But several admitted in court that they had intended to use their training to fight U.S. troops in Afghanistan, and one, Muhammed Aatique, said at his guilty plea hearing in 2003: "The United States could have been one of the possible opponents if the conspiracy had gone ahead."
The judge in the case has said the following:
U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema said at the time she imposed those sentences that they were "draconian" and "sticking in my craw" but that she had no choice because of congressionally mandated minimum sentences for certain firearms convictions.

At Friday's hearings, Brinkema repeated her assertion that the sentences were draconian, but said she had limited ability to alter them. That's because the Supreme Court ruling affects only the federal sentencing guidelines and not the mandatory minimums imposed by Congress that drove the lengthy terms imposed on Khan and Chapman.

As a result, Khan's sentence was reduced only to life plus 45 years. Chapman, 32, had his sentence reduced from 85 years to 65 years. There is no parole in the federal system, so both will have to serve the vast majority of their terms.

"I have a limited ability to impose what I consider to be an appropriate sentence," Brinkema said. "These statutes are really draconian. I've said it before and I'll say it again."
So a juror didn't think that they were all guilty of the crimes with which they were charged (which they believed to be minor anyway) but that some suffered from guilt by association and so convicted them all, and the judge believes that they received the wrong sentence but her hands are tied...

Hat Tip to 8ackgr0und N015e at Daily Kos for this story, who concludes with:
If the government can put people in jail for life for exercising their second amendment rights based on what they were thinking... what makes you think they can't put you in jail for exercising any other right based on what they believe you are thinking?
And, if only thinking the wrong thoughts or knowing the wrong people makes you eligible for precrime status, it makes this from Shakespeare's Sister even more frightening:
New Scientist has discovered that Pentagon's National Security Agency, which specialises in eavesdropping and code-breaking, is funding research into the mass harvesting of the information that people post about themselves on social networks. And it could harness advances in internet technology - specifically the forthcoming "semantic web" championed by the web standards organisation W3C - to combine data from social networking websites with details such as banking, retail and property records, allowing the NSA to build extensive, all-embracing personal profiles of individuals.

…The [Disruptive Technology Office]’s interest in online social network analysis echoes the Pentagon's controversial post 9/11 Total Information Awareness (TIA) initiative. That programme, designed to collect, track and analyse online data trails, was suspended after a public furore over privacy in 2002. But elements of the TIA were incorporated into the Pentagon's classified programme in the September 2003 Defense Appropriations Act.
And, more from the same New Scientist article:
Meanwhile, the NSA is pursuing its plans to tap the web, since phone logs have limited scope. They can only be used to build a very basic picture of someone's contact network, a process sometimes called "connecting the dots". Clusters of people in highly connected groups become apparent, as do people with few connections who appear to be the intermediaries between such groups. The idea is to see by how many links or "degrees" separate people from, say, a member of a blacklisted organisation.

By adding online social networking data to its phone analyses, the NSA could connect people at deeper levels, through shared activities, such as taking flying lessons. Typically, online social networking sites ask members to enter details of their immediate and extended circles of friends, whose blogs they might follow. People often list other facets of their personality including political, sexual, entertainment, media and sporting preferences too.

[snip]

Privacy groups worry that "automated intelligence profiling" could sully people's reputations or even lead to miscarriages of justice - especially since the data from social networking sites may often be inaccurate, untrue or incomplete, De Roure warns.

But Tim Finin, a colleague of Joshi's, thinks the spread of such technology is unstoppable. "Information is getting easier to merge, fuse and draw inferences from. There is money to be made and control to be gained in doing so. And I don't see much that will stop it," he says.