We are the 99%

October 31, 2006

CONGRATULATE US!

The other political junkie was right!

A little after 10:00pm (east coast) we got our 250,000th hit to this blog.

Who's gonna buy me a beer?

A costume I wouldn't have seen even a year ago...

At my door tonight: a young teenage girl wearing a bloody lab coat, carrying a meat cleaver...and wearing a Bush mask (out of the mouths of babes).

Yes, I live on the very Democratic South Side of the very Democratic Pittsburgh, but I hadn't seen anything remotely like that before.

Wish I had taken a picture!

Happy Halloween from 2PJ!

Spooky Ricky!

Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates are conducting canvassing in Southeast PA. If you're in that area and can help, click the image below:


(Besides, I just thought that they had a cool graphic for this.)

I'm A Democrat IV (Halloween Edition)

Santorum accuses - but does he really?

Recently Dickiecougarmellonscaife's paper reported this about Senator Rick Santorum:
U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum accused state Treasurer Bob Casey of "aiding and abetting terrorism and genocide," saying Sunday that state pension funds are invested with companies linked to terrorist-sponsoring states.

"We're talking about billions of dollars in investments with companies with ties to terrorist-sponsoring states," Santorum, R-Penn Hills, said at his campaign headquarters in Green Tree. "This is an issue I think is critical. If we can choke them off economically, we can reduce our risk."
Of course, it's complete crap. But let's look at its implications anyway. Rick said that Casey is "aiding and abetting" terrorism and genocide. What exactly does "aiding and abetting" mean? Here's a definition from findlaw.com:
A criminal charge of aiding and abetting or accessory can usually be brought against anyone who helps in the commission of a crime, though legal distinctions vary by state. A person charged with aiding and abetting or accessory is usually not present when the crime itself is committed, but he or she has knowledge of the crime before or after the fact, and may assist in its commission through advice, actions, or financial support. Depending on the degree of involvement, the offender's participation in the crime may rise to the level of conspiracy.
I think Lil Ricky's leaning on the "financial support" part of the definition.

Now let's look at that "genocide" part. Here's Article I the "Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide" adopted by the UN in 1948:
The Contracting Parties confirm that genocide, whether committed in time of peace or in time of war, is a crime under international law which they undertake to prevent and to punish.
So it's a crime under international law. Rick Santorum is accusing Bob Casey of violating international law.

But as a good conservative, Ricks' probably not in favor of supporting international law. He voted against US Cooperation with the International Criminal Court back in 2001. Here's how the bill was described on the Senate Floor:
[Senator Jesse] Helms said of his measure: "Without this amendment, the Rome Treaty can expose U.S. soldiers and civilian officials to the risk of prosecutions separate and apart from the laws of the United States of America. Therefore, they could very well be battling international bureaucrats and prosecutors instead of terrorists such as those who on September 11 committed mass murder against thousands of innocent American citizens in New York City and at the Pentagon, not far from here."
So even though Casey can't be tried by the ICC (no small thanks to Rick Santorum), genocide is a crime in the US, isn't it?

While I'm no lawyer, I'd have to answer that with a "yes, but..." Take a look.

The Basic Offense is described as:
Whoever, whether in time of peace or in time of war, in a circumstance described in subsection (d) and with the specific intent to destroy, in whole or in substantial part, a national, ethnic, racial, or religious group...[emphasis added]
And what is subsection (d)?
(d) Required Circumstance for Offenses.— The circumstance referred to in subsections (a) and (c) is that—

(1) the offense is committed within the United States; or

(2) the alleged offender is a national of the United States (as defined in section 101 of the Immigration and Nationality Act (8 U.S.C. 1101)). [emphasis added]
Ok. I guess that unless Casey had the specific intent to commit genocide AND if the genocide were committed within the United States, he's off the hook.

Ricky's a lawyer, right? Shouldn't he know this stuff?

But maybe I'm wrong. Maybe in my non-expert reading, I've missed something and Ricky's right - so why hasn't he called out the FBI on Bob Casey??? There's a war criminal running for the US Senate! It's an outrage - an outrage, I tell you! Why isn't Ricky doing something about it? Can't he even attempt a citizen's arrest?

He doesn't do anything because he knows the charge is an empty dirty smear of the worst kind. The stuff that people hate about politics and politicians.

And anyway, he'd look as silly as Gomer Pyle if he tried that running around in circles yelling "Citizen's Arrest!" thing.

Not that he doesn't look silly now.

- Desperate and dirty and down by an average of 13 points (as of 10/31/06)

Rick Santorum as seen from the Other Side of PA

John Baer:
RICK SANTORUM says there's a gathering storm.

I think he's right.

I'm just not sure it's the storm he's talking about.

The storm he's talking about is the destruction of civilization, which he boldly forecasts unless we all wake up and give him a third Senate term.

"I don't want to win this race for me, but for the country," he tells fellow Republicans in Lebanon County, adding that a Democratic victory is "a disaster for the future of the world."

Hmm. Really?

Could this be a bit of exaggeration? A tad self-serving? Just a little desperate?
Wait, lemme think. Yea.
Well, it goes with his "Gathering Storm" speech, a resurrected scare-em-straight (as in straight Republican) stem-winder just in time for Halloween that essentially says vote for me or die.
Some analysis:
Santorum is fierce. I long thought he'd find a way to win this race. But not anymore. I just don't see this stuff working.

"At the moment it doesn't seem to be," says Keystone Poll boss Terry Madonna, who has Casey leading. "It looks like his last gasp."
Looks like that to me, too. Here's how Baer ends:
I have no doubt he believes what he says. Just as he believes homosexuality's akin to bestiality, Boston's liberalism caused pedophilia in the Catholic Church, Terry Schiavo was "executed," public education is "weird socialization," mothers of means shouldn't work outside the home, and the mainstream media lie about him.

There's a gathering storm all right. It's the one he brought upon himself.
- vote for him or die.

A Follow-up Post on Allegheny County's Voting Machines

Last Friday, I posted about the glitches that turned up in the Logic and Accuracy Testing of the machines that we'll be voting on next week. That post contained a report from Richard King (http://www.votepa.us ).

King had a letter to the editor published in Sunday's Post-Gazette on parallel testing of voting machines and software verification. You can, and should, read that letter.

The letter was also signed by Douglas Shields, City Council president; Tonya Payne and William Peduto, City Council members; Chuck Martoni, County Council member; Bob Hillen, chairman, and Joe Weinroth, vice chairman, Republican Committee of Pittsburgh; and Jim Roddey, former Allegheny County chief executive -- nice bipartisan support!

If you still think this subject is unimportant, you might want to read The Miami Herald's report of problems in early voting in Florida. It recounts complaints that their machines are flipping votes to the GOP -- what a surprise!

Altmire and Hart Will Appear Together on KDKA Radio

This is the closest thing we may get to a real debate.

Jason Altmire and Melissa Hart have agreed to make a joint appearance on the radio together on Thursday, November 2 around 8:00 AM on The KDKA Morning News with Larry Richert (1020 AM or live stream at www.kdkaradio.com).

If you listened to John McIntire's The Flip Side last night, you heard an ad for it.

Hart has turned down every debate opportunity to date.

Altmire/Hart is one of the hottest Congressional races this year.

A little birdie (OK, it's Halloween -- a little bat?) emailed me this weekend that the station was working on this. They also said that KDKA-TV is trying to get them both to appear together on the KDKA/P-G Sunday Edition show (taped on Friday to air Sunday, November 5, at 8:30 AM). Ken Rice (KDKA) and David Shribman (Post-Gazette) host that show. Don't know yet if that one will actually happen . . .

Paid Canvassing Work!

Hard money candidate advocacy canvassing opportunity opening up this weekend helping out Jason Altmire win over Missy Hart.

They're looking for people to do at least 2 days min 6 hrs/day @$12/hr. The max is 4 days at 11 hours per day.

When: Saturday, Nov. 4 – Tuesday, Nov. 7
Call: 412-721-8707 (Ask for John)
Email:
canvass4change@gmail.com

(Paid for by SEIU COPE. www.seiucope.org Not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee)

One Year Ago

One year ago today, we noted that our stat counter had hit 66,666 on Halloween (666 being the sign of the beast for any of you who don't watch horror films).

Today, we have a very good chance of reaching a quarter of a million hits.

Thanks to all you little devils out there for making that happen!

CONGRESSMAN CALL ME!

Too bad this is just a spoof ad and not really running in all 50 states:

October 30, 2006

Shiny Happy People!


The turnout was great for Saturday's rally


It wasn't just standing room only -- it was standing on chairs room only


Yes, Ed, we got your back -- Four More Years!


I'm not certain, but I think he was talking about Lil Ricky Santorum here


Believe it or not, Bob Casey was engaging and enthusiastic . . .


. . . And the crowd loved it!
(Yeah, I know, most of the pictures are of bad quality -- my apologies.)

A Side Note:

As predicted, the room was full of Democratic pols and candidates -- Mike Doyle, Dan Onorato, Luke Ravenstahl, Valerie McDonald Roberts, Bill Peduto, Tonya Payne, Michael Lamb, Ed Gainey, Jim Burn, Carmella Mullen, numerous ACDC members, and a host of others were present.

Before Gov. Rendell and our next Senator from PA, Bob Casey, arrived, the names of elected officials in attendance were announced from the stage. People were still milling about, eating and talking when The Ghost of Election Future made a surprise appearance.

Up to that point, no one's name was drawing any reaction from those assembled. That changed when they announced Bill Peduto's name. Long, loud, sustained cheers and applause went up from many in the crowd. Valerie McDonald Roberts was announced next to some good applause...and then Mayor Ravenstahl's name was announced. His name was met with applause, but nothing like the reception Peduto received. Looks like people had more than just November 7th's election on their minds . . .

More bad news for Ricky

The Trib may be trying to give itself (or maybe some local frustrated conservatives) some reality-based wiggle room. Take a look:
What was an attempt to show that Sen. Rick Santorum plays well with others may well backfire. The down-in-the-polls Republican toured the Philadelphia suburbs with the likes of "moderate" senators Arlen Specter, Norm Coleman of Minnesota, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine. What's next, a trip to Primanti's with Hillary Clinton and Las Vegas with Harry Reid? ... Speaking of Santorum, his race against Democrat Bobby Casey Jr. slowly but surely has been falling off the list of the top pundits' "key races to watch." And that means the pros, watching how the numbers are "trending," think Santorum's goose could be cooked. Look for his thermometer to pop up any day now -- especially if his handlers keep mishandling him. [emphasis added]
So it's not Rick, it's his handlers?

We've already blogged in Rick's short-lived flirtation with moderation (he was out stumping with the hardly-moderate Sean Hannity within days). Where it's good to see Dickiecougarmellonscaife's paper (maybe) agreeing, I gotta wonder what will the CW be if Rick loses - why wouldn't it (or shouldn't it) be Rick's fault if he goes down in flames?

Meanwhile, check out the lastest poll from the Temple University/Philadelphia Inquirer. First the description for the skeptics out there:
For the October Temple/ Inquirer Poll a random- digit dial sample of 1019 Pennsylvanians registered to vote were interviewed between October 16 and October 25, 2006. The sample included 698 classified as likely voters. With a sample of this size, the overall margin of error attributable to sampling is 3.8 percentage points.
They randomly selected a thousand people and found that in answer to this question:
If the 2006 election for Pennsylvania's U. S. Senator were being held today and the candidates were Rick Santorum, the Republican, and Bob Casey Jr., the Democrat, who would you vote for?
38% said Rick Santorum and 54% said Bob Casey. That's a sixteen point difference. The same question was asked a month ago and the numbers were 39/49 for Santorum/Casey.

According to this poll, Casey's support has jumped 5 points (that's larger than the margin of error) while Santorum's support remained about the same at 38/39 percent.

Maybe The Trib can blame this on Rick's handlers, too.

- he's not a bad candidate, his handlers are running a bad campaign.

October 29, 2006

Because...

I know this is old news and David blogged about it here, but I think you just can't have enough people blogging on a US Representative who would kick elderly constituents to the curb (two of whom I hear were legally blind) and call the cops on them. (Besides, he didn't embed the video.)

They sure look like real people with real requests and real problems who have some real input for Missy, but I guess that's just me...

Oops. I blogged too soon.

I wrote here a few minutes ago that I couldn't imagine a better example of looniness than Rick Santorum's charge that George ("We don't torture - nudge nudge wink wink.") Bush is "soft on terrorists."

I spoke waaaay too soon. I found this a few minutes later:
U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum accused state Treasurer Bob Casey of "aiding and abetting terrorism and genocide," saying Sunday that state pension funds are invested with companies linked to terrorist-sponsoring states.
Aiding and abetting terrorism? Rick goes on:
"I'm the one trying to fight this war politically and economically so we don't have to fight it militarily, and he is asleep at the switch because he's not doing his job," Santorum said.
Wait, is he talking about Casey or Bush? According to Ricky, they're both soft on terrorists.

Of course, Ricky didn't provide any evidence - referring instead to a report from a neoconservative think tank. He says:
"Bob Casey has invested Pennsylvania pension funds in companies with ties to terrorist-sponsoring states and states that engage in genocide," Santorum said. "Bob Casey is aiding and abetting terrorism and genocide."
Tell me again why we should trust Rick and the neoconservatives?

At this rate how long before Rick calls Bob Casey "a meek little nancy-boy running on his daddy's name."

No wait - that's McIntire's joke.

John McIntire's funny. 's a loon.

Rick Santorum Says: BUSH SOFT ON TERROR

I got this from Santorum's favorite statewide reporter, Brett Lieberman. It's from today's Fox News Sunday:
CHRIS WALLACE: Senator, if I may, let's talk about the reality of this situation with regard to the vote on illegal immigration. All [Bob Casey] said was that he would have voted for the comprehensive immigration reform package that was passed by the Senate, a package, incidentally, that was supported by 23 of your Republican Senate colleagues, as well as President Bush. Does that make all of them soft on terror?

SANTORUM: Well, I think in that particular respect, yes. I think anything that says to the people of the world, if they can come into this country and break the law and cross our borders and we're going to give them amnesty, number one, you encourage more people to come and I think that does allow the opportunity for, if we do not secure our borders first, which is what now we're trying to do, after people rejected the Senate bill.
If there was a better example to show how much of a loon Rick Santorum really is, I can't think of it right now.

Though never say never. Rick is the gift that keeps on giving.

October 28, 2006

All Politics are Local - Tim Murphy Edition

It's been said that all politics are local - and so it's not surprising to see that the nationwide Republican culture of corruption may, indeed, have a local practitioner.

Take a look at this.
U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, who is seeking his third term in Congress, has mixed campaign activities and official government work in a manner that present and former staffers consider unethical or in violation of House rules, according to interviews with a half-dozen of them.

Some of those interviewed described the practices as routine, others as sporadic, but all said they were disturbed by the conduct. The allegations primarily concern the use of taxpayer-funded congressional staff and resources to do work they viewed as part of Mr. Murphy's political campaign.
Murphy, a Republican, is running against Chad Kluko for Pennsylvania's 18th Congressional District seat. Back to the P-G:
But it's clear that multiple staff members believed that what they were instructed to do crossed an ethical line.

"I see someone in a very high office taking advantage of people and situations, and it's wrong," said Jayne O'Shaughnessy, the scheduler in his Mt. Lebanon district office since April 2005. "He's someone who should know better."
That last part is the important piece of the puzzle - a staffer who goes on record with the allegations.
Ms. O'Shaughnessy, 63, was one of only two of the six staff members interviewed who were willing to be identified, and she was the only one who is a current staff member. Others, mostly in their 20s and Republicans like the congressman, have left within the past year and said it could harm their careers if they publicly criticized an influential congressman.
He must be a real nice guy. There's this from the P-G:
"Congressman Murphy would very often say, 'Don't you people care about your jobs? If I'm not re-elected, you don't have jobs,' " recalled Emily Campbell, a staff member from June 2003 to February 2006 who has relocated to Cleveland.
Yea, a real nice guy.

The P-G has a list of some of the allegations against Congressman Murphy, which include:
Mr. Murphy and his campaign staff have frequently used his Mt. Lebanon office for campaign strategy sessions, and equipment like the office's fax, copier, camera and filing cabinets for campaign-related materials, instead of using his separate campaign office a few miles away.
And
Multiple staff members from the district office were instructed last December to devote their time to labeling, stuffing and mailing greeting cards to individuals who were campaign contributors of Mr. Murphy's. The postage and materials were paid by his campaign fund, but several staffers said they performed the functions in the middle of the government workday, rather than on their own time.
The P-G explains the problem:
House ethics rules for members say no campaign activities may take place in any congressional office, and use of office resources such as equipment, supplies or files is prohibited. The guidelines also say staff may do campaign work on their own time, but only outside the congressional office. They may not be compelled to do such work.
So you see, Murphy has an ethics problem. Also he just doesn't seem to be that nice of a guy. Sources say that he's demanding, rude and hard to work with. Heck, even the good folks over at PoliticsPA have a whole page dedicated to some of the reasons staffers have given for disliking Murphy. He even shows up as a possiblity for this "blind item" over at Wonkette:
A sophomore Member has turned over so many staffers that no one will even apply for the jobs any more. I had a friend who worked for him and then quit because the office was so dysfunctional. Apparently he goes through more staff than any other office on the Hill. In just the 3 years he has been in office, he has had 4 press secretaries (2 were fired), two COS, three LDs, and more leg staff come and go than I have ever heard of. Some get fired by the apparently tempramental boss, and some just leave.

The office is so dysfunctional that at the present moment he has 4 vacancies, and no applications! He only has one leg staffer working for him right now! He had to fly up district staffers just to keep the office going.
The first reason wonkette quotes?
Is it Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA)? He is an asshole.
So the man hasn't made many friends and now a staffer has accused him of mixing campaign stuff with office stuff. We'll call it Tim Murphy's "Habay moment."



UPDATE: The P-G story made it all the way to Talkingpointsmemo - 5 hours after I posted mine here.

Melissa Hart's Donut Problem

The coverage started, oddly enough, at The Trib. At the tail end of a story about some Altmire/Hart poll numbers, there was this:
Also yesterday, Hart staffers called Hampton police to disperse about 40 people who crowded into the congresswoman's district office.

Dani Pere, director of the union-affiliated Pennsylvania Alliance for Retired Americans, said at least half of the group were constituents of Hart's and were respectfully complaining about the costs of prescription drugs under the new Medicare Part D program.

Hart spokesman Angelo Terrana described a different scene, one in which protesters screamed and used foul language in the office, scaring off constituents already there or trying to get in. He blamed Altmire for the protests.

Hampton police did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment.
Yesterday I got a more than a few e-mails telling me the same story:

Melissa Hart called the cops on a group of seniors.

Just to state the obvious, the protest was not an Altmire event - but, of course, it's not surprising to see the Hart campaign blame Altmire for it anyway.

Basically you have a group of seniors protesting (still a Constitutionally protected act, right?) at at the office of a member of Congress and when some news cameras show up, that member of Congress calls the authorities to shoo them away. Not the smartest thing to do, honestly.

Here's Dani Pere (by way of Pennsylvania Progressive):
Donuts were then delivered to Hart's staff while ARA members talked about the donut hole. Hart's staff promptly called the police to try and remove us from the office. The police arrived and begin asking ARA members to move on. As Marie Malagreca turned to leave, she shouted to the staff and police with a smile "I've been kicked out of better places!" The entire event was caught on film be a camera crew from Channed 2 News, KDKA TV. Reports were also given to the Associated Press and Pittsburgh Tribune Review.
And Missy's response?"
Our Allison Park office is a place of business, not politics. Their unruly behavior not only inhibited our ability to assist constituents with real requests for help, it also infringes on our constituents privacy. We always welcome constituents into our offices who have real problems or who want to deliver real input on the issues. This was, unfortunately, not the case today."[emphasis added]
Is Melissa Hart really saying that the concerns that Seniors Citizens have about the "donut hole" in the Medicare D plan, isn't a real problem or that it wasn't a real request for help? Looks that way to me. Or that somehow something her constituents had to say it wasn't real input? Looks that way to me, too.

And isn't the business of a politician, well politics? So how can she justify saying that an office listed on her website somehow isn't a place for the public - you know, her constituents?

Take a look at the video. Where's the unruly behavior?

- too busy to talk to some Senior Citizens, so she calls the cops to have them removed.

Rick Santorum sends out the Big Guns - his wife

Rick Santorum got his kids out to lie for him in a TV commercial awhile back.

Now that, in terms of his poll numbers, things have gone pretty much from mediocre to frighteningly mediocre, Rick has done what every true blue family man does - he sends his wife out to fight for him.

And fight she did - yesterday on the very friendly airspace of Pittsburgh's own Fred Honsberger. You can hear the clip here.

I took notes.

She seems to be insisting that her family lives in Penn Hills . Even after Fred tossed her a softball question about the family living in "Suburban Washington" (he said they live there because all the Senators live there) she answered that she couldn't think of a better place to live - in Penn Hills next to her parents.

Answer - They don't live in Penn Hills. Rick admitted on Marty Griffin's KDKA show that he spends about 90% of his time in Washington DC. She's lying.

She charged that Bob Casey is opting to "duck" the issues and focuss instead on her children and where they sleep or are schooled. She called the attacks "unconscionable."

Answer - No one has attacked the Santorum children. The criticism is precisely the lie that Mrs Santorum continues to peddle - that they all live in Penn Hills.

Here's the scary part. When Fred asked her considering how tough this campaign is, whether there's a point at which they just say it's not worth it, she answered that it's God's will for Rick to be in the Senate (or maybe it was God's will for Rick to run for the Senate - I'm still not sure).

Answer - I really have nothing to say about it except to ask, how scary is that?

The Santorums think it's God's will for him to be in the United States Senate. Did God tell them that directly? Do they think that any other Senators were similarly instructed and if so, who? And if they believe that's the case, do they think that Satan is trying to get Bob Casey elected in order to thwart some God's divine plan? Do they feel that God is on their side politically?

I want to know the answers to those questions.

Additinally, now that she's injected herself into the rough and tumble world of politics, I'd like to ask her about something Tom Ferrick brought up last year (apologies for the cache copy - the original is for subscription only):
And I was helpfully pointed to several news articles from 2003 that reported that Karen Santorum had a job in the late 1990s. She was a $4,000-a-month consultant for BrabenderCox, an advertising firm run by John Brabender, who always has been the honcho behind Santorum's Senate elections.

"She helped us try to get accounts and often acted as our Washington representative," Brabender told UPI. "She was both a stay-at-home mom and a professional at the same time."

So there you have it. The best of both worlds.
A stay at home mom who goes out and makes four grand a month working for the firm her husband pays beaucoup bucks to? Doesn't that have at least the hint of impropriety?

I won't bother asking her about this article from USNews titled "20 Things about Rick Santorum." Go read it yourself. Let me know if you notice anything odd.

- now a negative campaigner for husband

October 27, 2006

What Bullshit

PCNC is broadcasting two half hour shows. One with Jason Altmire and one with Melissa Hart (Hart won't debate Altmire). I caught the 10 PM to 11 PM repeat, but it will be shown again (repeatedly -- this is PCNC after all).

The idea is that they are both debating the host, Bob Bruce (they're calling it an interview).

One big problem: Bob Bruce is a huge conservative. I'm not saying that he never got tough with Hart (he did on Iraq), but on questions about the economy, social security and health care, Bruce's bias shows.

The questions were biased -- the economy is great! tax cutz is kool! -- and this completely favored Hart.

Why could PCNC not have a liberal debate interview Hart since they had a conservative debate interview Altmire?

Don't present it as fair because you're asking both candidates the same questions when the questions themselves favor a conservative point of view.

Of course, Hart could just debate Altmire... Oh, sorry! According to Hart she's just been super, super busy! (Listen, Missy, the president of the freaking country finds time to participate in multiple debates during an election, you can too! )

I will say one thing, despite the deck being stacked against Altmire, he was excellent going head to head with Bruce -- he never gave an inch and had a real command of the facts. I can see why Missy has refused every opportunity to debate him.

http://www.jasonaltmire.com

http://hart.house.gov

Why the hell is pcAnywhere installed on the PCs used for our central vote tallying process?!?

A report from Richard King (www.PA-VerifiedVoting.org , www.verifiedvoting.org ) on the Logic and Accuracy Testing of Allegheny County's voting machines. (Found here).

Logic and Accuracy Testing Yesterday... YIKES: 4 problems plus

After delays of several weeks, finally the county announced that we could come view the logic and accuracy testing today (10.23.2006). Court cases were settled on October 9th, so L&A could have and may have begun almost two weeks ago and I'm wondering when did this process begin and why were we only being called in at the tail end of the L&A testing?

When we arrived for the logic and accuracy test at Allegheny County's voting machine warehouse (late @ 10:00 AM) there was a policeman standing guard next to a yellow plastic ribbon barrier ("CAUTION")... ten yards or so beyond the ribbon stood the touchscreen voting machines that were all facing away from the barrier... so we could not observe the L&A testing in any meaningful way.

So I pulled out my video camera to document the situation: Mark Wolosik says "No cell phones, no cameras, no recording devices allowed." So, I put the camera away. Asked him if he was aware that this situation was illegal and he said no, he did not and referred me to the county solicitor for relief.

Eventually, Collin Lynch and I referenced to the PA Code 25 P.S. 3011, which states, " No member of the county election board, not custodian nor other employee of the county election board shall, in any way, prevent free access to and examination of all voting machines, which are to be used at the election, by any of the duly appointed representatives aforesaid; the county election board and their employees shall afford to each such representative every facility for the examination of all registering counters, protective counters, and public counters of each and every voting machine."

Mark Wolosik, Dir. of the Division of Election, claimed this didn't refer to electronic machines and was not inclined to comply with our request to enter and observe the machines up close. Audrey got councilman Dave Fawcett to send an email to county manager Jim Flynn who was on site and we were allowed access after some discussion... and given a personal tour of the L&A process (with Q&A) by Todd Mullen, ES&S regional representative for PA. About 6 other ES&S personnel were on site helping with the L&A.

PROBLEM #1:
L&A aint what it used to be... its now automated.
Its initiated by one touch of the screen and the L&A runs itself (we presume) rather than having laborious data entry by touchscreen input as in what folks have expected in L&A testing ... a close simulation of real voting. Only 20 machines underwent manual touchsceen vote entry in the entire fleet of approximately 4800 machines. (1350 of which are still the used non-ADA machines). This may help reduce the man hours in preparation for an election, but its not the thorough exam that manual L&A testing is. It was the manual L&A that made the touchscreens cost more than the op scan... perhaps that or lack of time played into the decision to run the L&A test this way. However, doesn't this create issues regarding the validity of the L&A test... what about assessment of the screen calibrations? Aren't screen calibrations a major issue with touchscreens? Aren't the touch screens the most vulnerable component?

PROBLEM #2:
Only a small portion (approximately 200-300) of the iVotronic terminals at the warehouse are being used for the L&A testing...
these terminals are being used as platforms for the PEB simulation of an election. Actually, it would be more accurate to say we observed a simulation of an election rather than L&A testing of every iVotronic terminal. Explanation: all terminals were given L&A testing during acceptance testing. (How long ago was that?) Their goal was to have all the PEB under go L&A testing, not the terminals themselves which hold the vote.

PROBLEM #3:
We observed, as we did for the Primary, "PC ANYWHERE" installed on the computers that were used in the central vote tallying process. When asked what it was used for Mr. Todd Mullen said that it shouldn't be there and it would be taken off immediately. Didn't they promise to do so at a BOE meeting months ago? There were like 4 icons on that desk top... why would PC Anywhere be one of them... surely it wasn't there by random oversight.

PROBLEM #4:
When asked, "Have you ever opened up the hardware to do an assessment of what is inside the machines" Mark W. said I don't know and Todd Mullen explained that ES&S writes this into the contract at the state level... counties are not to open the hardware without ES&S being present. So the answer is that our county has never confirmed that the contents of these machines is free of wireless components... they just haven't ever open up a machine to see whats there.

Afterward Collin and I were wondering... what to prioritize for the BOE meeting ... maybe ask the county to get a real plan for verified voting....


RK


Richard King, Ph.D.
(412) 400-3773
kinggaines@comcast.net
www.PA-VerifiedVoting.org
www.verifiedvoting.org

Links for Pennsylvania HB2000/SB977:
Voter Verified Paper Records with Routine Audits
www.PA-VerifiedVoting.org (locate&email your legislators)
www.VotePA.us (Listserve for voting reform activists)
www.democracyforberks.com/countmyvote (List of co-sponsors)
http://www.coalitionforvotingintegrity.org
http://www.congressweb.com/cweb4/index.cfm?orgcode=VTUSA&hotissue=2


In case you don't know, pcAnywhere is software that allows you to connect remotely to another computer and pretty much do whatever the hell you want to on that computer. Go into files...change/manipulate them...whatever...

Bob Casey at Pitt TODAY

RALLY WITH BOB CASEY!
When: Today, Friday, October 27th, 4:15 PM
Where: University of Pittsburgh Public Health Auditorium (5th & DeSoto -- Oakland)
Meet the man who is going to defeat Rick Santorum on Election Day
Sponsored by the University of Pittsburgh College Democrats

And, don't forget:

SOUTHWESTERN PA GOTV PARTY AT RIVERVIEW PARK
When: This Saturday October 28, 3:30 Pm to 6:00 Pm
Where: Main Pavillion, Riverview Park.
Come Meet the Gov. Ed Rendell and the Next United States Senator Bob
Casey (and pretty much every Dem politician in SW PA who has breath in their body)
at the Big Bash Rally at Riverview Park Free Admission, Free Food, Music and Door Prizes -- No tickets Necessary
Please bring your friends and family!
Pass this event through your emails and makes some calls!

SEE YOU THERE !

Cheney Confirms That US Is Water-boarding Detainees

"It's a no-brainer for me" - Dick Cheney

From McClatchy Washington Bureau:

WASHINGTON - Vice President Dick Cheney has confirmed that U.S. interrogators subjected captured senior al-Qaida suspects to a controversial interrogation technique called "water-boarding," which creates a sensation of drowning.

Cheney indicated that the Bush administration doesn't regard water-boarding as torture and allows the CIA to use it. "It's a no-brainer for me," Cheney said at one point in an interview.

Cheney's comments, in a White House interview on Tuesday with a conservative radio talk show host, appeared to reflect the Bush administration's view that the president has the constitutional power to do whatever he deems necessary to fight terrorism.

The U.S. Army, senior Republican lawmakers, human rights experts and many experts on the laws of war, however, consider water-boarding cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment that's banned by U.S. law and by international treaties that prohibit torture. Some intelligence professionals argue that it often provides false or misleading information because many subjects will tell their interrogators what they think they want to hear to make the water-boarding stop.

Lee Ann McBride, a spokeswoman for Cheney, denied that Cheney confirmed that U.S. interrogators used water-boarding or endorsed the technique.

"What the vice president was referring to was an interrogation program without torture," she said. "The vice president never goes into what may or may not be techniques or methods of questioning."

[snip]

CIA spokeswoman Michelle Neff said, "While we do not discuss specific interrogation methods, the techniques we use have been reviewed by the Department of Justice and are in keeping with our laws and treaty obligations. We neither conduct nor condone torture."
A transcript of the interview is posted at the White House website here.

On October 17, 2006, George W. Bush signed into law a bill that shreds the Geneva Conventions, pisses on the Bill of Rights, and terminates the 800 year-old right of habeas corpus. It allows Bush to decide what is and isn't torture.

From Wikipedia:

A Japanese officer, Yukio Asano, was tried in 1947 for carrying out a form of waterboarding on a U.S. civilian during World War II, and was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor. The charges against Asano included other abuses of prisoners.
On the issue of waterboarding, the United States charged Yukio Asano, a Japanese officer on May 1 to 28, 1947, with war crimes. The offenses were recounted by John Henry Burton, a civilian victim: After taking me down into the hallway they laid me out on a stretcher and strapped me on. The stretcher was then stood on end with my head almost touching the floor and my feet in the air. They then began pouring water over my face and at times it was impossible for me to breathe without sucking in water. The torture continued and continued. Yukio Asano was sentenced to fifteen years of hard labor.
On September 6, 2006, the United States Department of Defense released a revised Army Field Manual entitled Human Intelligence Collector Operations that prohibits the use of waterboarding by U.S. military personnel. The revised manual was adopted amid widespread criticism of U.S. handling of prisoners in the War on Terrorism, and prohibits other practices in addition to waterboarding. The revised manual applies to U.S. military personnel, and as such does not apply to the practices of the CIA.
Also from Wikipedia:
In the United States, military personnel are taught this technique, to demonstrate how to resist enemy interrogations in the event of capture. According to Salon.com, SERE instructors shared their techniques with interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay detainment camp.
This video demonstrates water-boarding:


Remember, this is not torture if Bush and Cheney say it isn't.

We've always been at war with Eurasia.

Santorum: "A Disaster for the Future of The World"

That's what he said. That's what Rick Santorum, candidate for the US Senate, said this week about a Democratic victory in the November elections.
U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum last night urged the GOP faithful in Lebanon County to man the phones, knock on doors, take time off from work and do everything they can to help re-elect him Nov. 7. The future of the country is at stake, he said.

"I don't want to win this race for me, but for this country. All I ask for is two weeks of sacrifice. ... I need a huge vote out of this county," Santorum told an audience of about 200 at the party's annual fundraising dinner at the Lantern Lodge.

Santorum said as he was leaving the dinner that a Democratic win could be "a disaster for the future of the world."
He seemed to be playing the "Vote for the Democrats and DIE" school of thinking:
"I want to be senator because this is an important point in our nation's history," he said.

He painted a frightening picture of what would happen should he lose, warning of "Islamic fascism."

Islamic fascists don't mind dying to destroy the United States and "we need the courage to name our enemy. ... But because we're dealing with religion, we cower away," he said.
The York Dispatch, rightly, called this line of "reasoning" silly.
Rick Santorum is running scared in his battle to keep his Senate seat and he is trying to scare the hell out of Pennsylvanians in the process.

With less than two weeks until Election Day, it's Santorum's desperation and over-the-top vision of what citizens in the state and the nation may face if he loses -- and if Republicans lose a majority in either house of Congress -- that's truly scary.

According to Santorum, a Democratic victory on Nov. 7 would be "a disaster for the future of the world." That's what he told a Lebanon fund-raising crowd Monday.
And
To Santorum's discredit, he's sounding like that poll-predicted takedown will be a tragedy for mankind. That's silly.
See? I wouldn't steer you wrong. Lil Ricky's still playing the last (non-racist) card left to the Republicans: National Security. From the AP in today's P-G:
For the first time in his fight for a third term, U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, R-Pa., directly questioned his opponent's ability to make the right decisions on national security at a time when "our enemies are fully committed to our destruction."
But take a look at this poll. I found it via this page at RealClearPolitics. The "R" next to the name means, I guess, that the folks at Real Clear Politics consider the polling company, Strategic Vision to be Republican pollsters.

Even after asking a number of questions about Iraq and terrorism, for instance:
4. Do you approve or disapprove of President Bush's handling of the war on terrorism?
Approve 49%
Disapprove 42%
Undecided 9%
And
9. Do you expect another terrorist attack in the United States within the next six months?
Yes 78%
No 8%
Undecided 14%
Rick STILL can't get out of the lower 40s.
18. If the election for United States Senate were held today, and the choice was between Robert Casey, Jr. the Democrat, or Rick Santorum the Republican, whom would you vote for?
Robert Casey, Jr. 49%
Rick Santorum 42%
Undecided 9%
And remember, the undecideds almost always break to the challenger.

- Grasping. Desperate. But at least he's (and good for him on this) not playing the race card.

Black & White in America

Maybe you've seen the story of the black and white twins who were conceived naturally and born to a Jamaican mom and German dad in Australia.

Here's their picture:


Beautiful girls, huh?

Now let's imagine that little black Alicia and white Jasmin emigrate to America.

They grow up.

They become Democrats.

Eventually, they run for public office.

What can Alicia expect?

Well, if she runs in the South against a white Republican candidate, perhaps she can expect to have her opponent's radio ads play jungle drums in the background whenever her name is mentioned. Or if she was a he, they could play the miscegenation card.

But you say, hey, Republicans aren't all about race. They aren't all racists. And you'd be right.

Sometimes they just like to mock the disabled.

So little white Jasmin, don't feel left out.

Maybe you'll be "lucky" enough to get Parkinson's and then Rush Limbaugh can mock you:


Or you can be in a wheelchair with multiple sclerosis and your Republican opponent can tell you that "If you weren't sitting in that chair, I'd slap you across the face."

Welcome to America!

Republicans: Equal Opportunity Assholes

October 26, 2006

Altmire/Hart Update

From Jon Delano at KDKA:
One local congressional race appears to be a dead-heat between three-term incumbent Melissa Hart and her challenger Jason Altmire.

That's what one independent poll reports today.

Congresswoman Melissa Hart was not supposed to have a tough race this year but don't tell Democrat Jason Altmire that.
It's a race - we all know that now.
The race between Republican Hart and Democrat Altmire is heating up with one independent poll showing Hart, the incumbent, just barely ahead of her challenger.

The Susquehanna Poll has hart at 46 percent, just four points ahead of Altmire at 42 percent.
This matches exactly the poll done by the Trib a few days ago.

Of course, NOW (RIGHT AFTER the P-G endorses Missy's opponent and RIGHT AFTER the Susquehanna poll shows the two of them tied) the Hart Campaign FINALLY decides to releases it's own poll. And what do you think it shows? From KDKA:
Hart's campaign issued its own poll in rebuttal showing hart with a 12-point lead, 50 percent to 38 percent.
Here's the press release. The polling company, Public Opinion Strategies, is a Republican polling company (take a look at the client list - see if you can find a Democratic State Party).

But Altmire had his own polling done with a Democratic polling company - so we can't begrudge Missy her own partisan polling.

But consider the numbers. A while back, Altmire's poll numbers had him getting close, the Trib's polling numbers this week have the two running neck and neck, and now the independent Susquehnna poll agrees.

But Missy's partisan polling company has her a whopping 12 points ahead.

Something's not right - which do you think more closely reflect reality?

I enjoyed how Delano finishes:
As for why she should be elected, Hart focuses on her local service.

"I work harder than any congressman they've ever had, in every community," said Hart. "I'm listening in every community, finding issues that we can deal with, and help them with on the federal level, from rural water and sewer to helping redevelop Brownfields."
Notice she's not mentioning her party or her president or Pennsylvania's junior senator. Delano then turns to Altmire:
For Altmire, this election is all about sending a message to Washington.

"If you like the direction of the country, if you think we're heading the right way, then vote for Melissa Hart to get more of the same," said Altmire. "But if you want change, and you want to go in a different direction, vote for Jason Altmire because we can't change Congress until we change the people we send there."
Almire's putting her shoulder to shoulder with the Republicans who've made such a mess in Washington - good for him.

Take a look at the ending:
Altmire says, to send a message of unhappiness with the way things are going in Washington, you have to defeat the incumbent.

While Hart says voters should remember all the things she has done, locally, to help this region.
Missy sounds a little desperate to me. Doesn't she?

When is a lie a lie?

Stuart Rothenberg of Roll Call was on C-SPAN's Washington Journal this morning and he rebuked a caller who complained that Bush lies.

Rothenberg said that it was a shame that people used the word lie when they disagreed with another's judgment.

Yes, here we have the MSM once again striving for balance instead of objectivity.

The MSM had no problem calling President Bill Clinton a liar, but the word liar seems to be incapable of crossing their lips when it comes to discussing this administration.

When the Bushies claimed that Abramhoff was only at the White House a couple of times and then it turned out there were over 400 contacts, was that not a lie?

When Bush claimed that we only listen in to phone calls when there is a warrant and it came out that there was a whole secret program to listen to calls without warrants, was that not a lie?

When Condi Rice claimed that no one could have imagined using planes as a weapon to fly into buildings and it came out that only a month prior to 9/11 Bush had been moved from his hotel at a summit to stay on a boat because there was concern that the hotel might be hit with a plane, was that not a lie?

When Bush and everyone else on the Right claim that we all have the same intelligence but we know it took years for the PDB that said Bin Laden was determined to attack within the US to come out, was that not a lie? I didn't see that PDB, you didn't see that PDB, John Kerry didn't see that PDB...we don't all get the same intelligence - period.

When Bush uses his State of the Union speech to claim that Iraq was trying to purchase uranium from Africa, but had been warned over and over by his own spy agencies not to use that in the speech and it had been taken out of the speech, yet found it's way back in, was that not a lie?

And, when he and his crew now say we were never about "stay the course" yet he and his crew are on tape saying it dozens of time, isn't that a lie?

I could go on and on...

Yeah, we should all be balanced and not say Bush lies, instead of being objective and say he tells huge whopper lies -- like Britney Spears has bad taste in men, like Naomi Campbell abuses the help, and like Rush Limbaugh pops pills to keep his dick hard -- all the fucking time!

Gimme a break!

Great DNC Ad

Unfortunately, it's only a web ad at www.democrats.org. Thank goodness for youtube.com where it's been viewed some 130,000 times as of this morning:

Rick Santorum, Moderate?

It depends on where he is.

According to the Boston Herald, Rick's trying to look moderate in the Philly 'Burbs.
In a hunt for votes in the Philadelphia suburbs, Sen. Rick Santorum’s campaign brought four Senate colleagues to town Wednesday to spin Santorum as a moderate in conservative clothing.
Senator Man-on-Dog is moderate?
Fellow Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter, Sen. Norm Coleman, of Minnesota, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, and Collins all set aside the day to campaign for Santorum in the vote-rich Philadelphia suburbs. Santorum hopes to woo enough moderates there to win the Nov. 7 election over Casey, a socially conservative Democrat.
Well, good luck with that.

Then there's this from The Citizen's Voice of Wilkes-Barre.
Imagine Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum in a wrestling ring with Democratic Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barbara Boxer.

Oh, and throw in Sen. Joseph Lieberman, so to speak.

Now imagine the titan of the right, two she-devils to conservatives and conservatives’ one Democrat darling as a tag team.

They aren’t in it, but in his latest television commercial, Santorum invokes their names to prove he can work with anyone to help Pennsylvania.
I'm not really sure what it's all about (the article says it's an ad showing on cable - and posted on youtube, but I haven't seen it yet), but it seems to follow the campaign's latest theme:
Santorum's not so scary, he's really a moderate, you know.
I gotta say I'm with Terry Madonna on this one:
“Are you serious?” asked political analyst G. Terry Madonna, Ph.D., when advised of the senator’s name-dropping.
The article outlines things for us:
It’s part of an apparent strategy shift that includes at least a temporary move away from broadcast television and a different focus on the war in Iraq.

Santorum, who trails Democrat Bob Casey Jr. and hovers around 40 percent support in poll after poll, told a national television audience Tuesday that “it’s never been my policy” to stay the course in Iraq. He also brought Sen. Arlen Specter and three other moderate Republican senators to the Philadelphia suburbs Wednesday to say he’s more moderate than people think he is.
We already know Ricky's lying about staying the course, but whatever.

So he's trying to recast himself as a moderate because he's trailing in the polls and he needs some of them moderate votes from the Philly suburbs. But if that's the case, what in the name of all that's good is he doing with that "Great American" Sean ("stay away from the polls") Hannity? From the Intelligencer Journal of Lancaster:
Noted conservative commentator SeanHannity will be in Lancaster Saturday to give U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum a boost less than two weeks before the election.
Huh?
“We are thrilled to have him,” Santorum spokeswoman Virginia Davis said. “Sean Hannity and Sen. Santorum share a very strong commitment to the security of this country.”
Oh, I see. So when he's wooing moderate voters around Philadelphia, he's a moderate but when he's in Lancaster County, he's thrilled to stand next to Sean Hannity.

Did Rick think no one would check?

- flip-flopping on himself.

October 25, 2006

It's a bird...It's a plane...It's SuperRick!

Lil Sen. Rick "I See Nazis" Santorum (R-VA) is at it again:

From the Lebanon Daily News:
Santorum issues GOP call to arms
By BRAD RHEN
Staff Writer
Lebanon Daily News

MYERSTOWN — Likening the times to the late 1930s as Nazi Germany was rising to power, Sen. Rick Santorum said last night that if he loses his re-election bid, it could set the stage for terrorism to become more of a threat than the Nazis ever were

“If we are not successful here and things don’t go right in the election, there’s a good chance that the course of our country could change,” he said. “We are in the equivalent of the late 1930s, and this election will decide whether we are going to continue to appease or whether we will stand and fight while we have a chance to win without devastating consequences.

“And you here in Pennsylvania — you here in this room — will have a huge role to play as to what happens.”
This is not Lil Ricky's first or second reference to Nazis. He may be more obsessed with them than sex with canines.

That said, now he thinks he's the only one who can save us from them.



Yes, he's delusional.

Get out the giant butterfly net, please.

Rick Santorum: Nothing that a few rounds of shock treatment can't cure.***

***That, and voting the craven, little weenie out in November.

What's the 311? Brand Ravenstahl!TM

Perhaps you've heard of Pittsburgh's new 311 response line for "QUESTIONS COMMENTS CONCERNS."

No?

Oh right. Sorry. It's the "Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's Response Line."



Yes, we had Bob O'Connor's Redd Up campaign, but that was a signature issue with the late mayor, and besides, it's now plastered with Ravenstal'sTM name and image:


And now we have the 311 line plastered with Ravenstal'sTM name and image.

If everything in the city has to now have our "new, young hip" mayor's name and image plastered all over it, how about this:


From Brian O'Neill at the Post-Gazette:

Senate Bill 157 would reform the emergency medical services tax that currently hits workers all at once. Under the proposed reform, workers would pay $1 a week, or $2 every two weeks, depending on the pay period. Employers would pay the municipalities the money at the end of each quarter.

That's how it should have been done from the beginning, but Mr. Ravenstahl wants none of this. He wants the city to get all its money in January. He wants to exempt Pittsburgh and the dozen or so other places that have been declared "distressed." That exemption would last three years. Without it, Mr. Ravenstahl says, the city would take a $6 million hit in 2007.

[snip]

None of that means it's OK to solve those problems on the backs of working stiffs on one bleak payday every January, as has happened the past two years. When workers find out that their peers in about 700 other municipalities in Pennsylvania can spread their burden over 52 weeks, they're not going to like it, no matter what their income.

[snip}

"It's regressive to put it in one lump sum and everyone understands that,'' Mr. Peduto said. "The people it hurts the most are those that earn the least. If there is any financial pain to the city, it's much greater to those on a low income.

"We should not be fighting this [reform]. We should be looking for a progressive solution.''
O'Neill also points out in his article that "the city already has already budgeted to absorb the new, fairer system" -- so RavenstalTM can't plead necessity.

I don't know about you, but I'm not expecting to see a MAYOR LUKE RAVENSTALTM SOCK IT TO YOU IN JANUARY TAX billboard anytime soon...

(For some funny takes on the 311 response line, check out here, here and here.)

Liberty PA Pittsburgh Pub Crawl with Governor Rendell

Join Liberty PA on Wednesday, October 25 -- TONIGHT! -- at these fine pubs from 10:30 PM - midnight for their GOTV kick off event.

5801 Ellsworth (formally NY/NY), Shadyside
Holiday Bar, on Forbes Ave near Craig Street
Real Luck Café, 1519 Penn Ave, Strip District
Pegasus, 818 Liberty Ave, Downtown
Images, 965 Liberty Ave, Downtown

Governor Rendell has been a friend to the LGBT community for decades - so show him some love, Pittsburgh style!

Meet at 5801 Ellsworth in Shadyside at 10:30 or call Janis at 412-680-1626 and she'll let you know where they are !

SLAMtorum this Friday!


When: Friday, October 27th, 7PM -10 PM
Where: Ava Lounge (The other half of Shadow Lounge), S Highland Avenue & Baum Blvd., East Liberty
Who: Pittsburgh's finest slam poets and you!
What: While competing for a cash prize, Pittsburgh slam poets and MCs will battle Senator Rick Santorum on the mic! Come call Santorum out on all his outrageous statements. The winner of the local contest will receive a free trip to Penn State to battle other regional winners from across PA.

The League of Young Voters is bringing back the success of PGH's efforts in the Slam Bush competition - where Vanessa German went all the way to be crowned Slam Bush National Champion - and they're laying the rhymes upside Sen. Rick Santorum's cranium.

You don't wanna miss this one!

http://www.slamtorum.com



P-G Endorses Jason Altmire!

Take a look. The editorial board spends some time on each candidate:
[Melissa Hart] sought funds to clean up brownfields and bring old sewer systems into the 21st century; she helped to save local military facilities. Her work ethic explains why she has been successful in politics, first in the state Senate for 10 years and now in the 4th District, which includes northern Allegheny County, all of Beaver and Lawrence counties and parts of Butler, Mercer and Westmoreland counties.

Ms. Hart has also had the advantage the last two elections of not being seriously tested by a Democratic challenger. This year is different, and it may explain why she has ducked various invitations to debate her opponent.
And
The Democrat is Jason Altmire, 38, of McCandless, who is willing to debate without reservations. Although he has never held public office, Mr. Altmire is no stranger to Washington, D.C. He was a legislative aide to former Rep. Pete Peterson of Florida and later worked for the Federation of American Hospitals. In 1998, he returned to Western Pennsylvania to work for the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He was the acting vice president for government relations and community affairs at UPMC.
Then they write something I've been on about for a while:
For this, Mr. Altmire is called a "lobbyist" by the Hart campaign, which is real chutzpah, considering that the Republican Party has lately been a great friend of lobbyists to the detriment of the nation (as in the Jack Abramoff affair).
Ha.

Here's the ending:
The problem for Ms. Hart is that she must shoulder the failures of the GOP. As a member of the ethics committee she may be upright herself, but her party has ruled a swamp. She and her colleagues blindly follow a president who is out of new ideas and who stands over an administration lacking basic competency.

Voters in the 4th District deserve better in Washington, and 2006 is their chance for change. Jason Altmire is the one who can deliver it.
Good for them.

Meanwhile, the Trib (The TRIB!) has released some poll numbers on this race.
The poll of 400 likely voters, conducted over the weekend by Susquehanna Polling & Research in Harrisburg, shows three-term incumbent Hart leading Altmire by 4 percentage points -- 46 percent to 42 percent. The margin of error is 4.9 percent. Eleven percent were undecided, and 1 percent said they wouldn't vote for either candidate.
That's within the margin of error, isn't it?

The / race - within the margin of error

Gorilla Chases Man-on-Dog!

WHAT: Pennsylvania Action and Americans United Press Conference and Rally to Announce ‘Golden Promise’ Campaign to Protect Social Security
WHEN: Wednesday, October 25, 1:30 p.m.
WHERE: Senator Rick Santorum's Pittsburgh Office, 100 West Station Square Drive,
Landmarks Building, Suite 250, Pittsburgh, PA 15219

You-Tube-Famous 'Grandpa Gorilla' to Join Pennsylvania Action and Americans United at Social Security 'Golden Promise' Press Conference and Rally -- 8th Public Challenge to Pro-Privatizer Sen. Rick Santorum -- 1:30 p.m. Wednesday at Santorum's Pittsburgh Office

Having Pursued Sen. Santorum from Harrisburg (8/2) to Middletown (8/20) to Philadelphia (9/14) to Allentown (9/27) to Scranton (10/4) to Altoona (10/14) to Erie (10/25, 10 a.m.) and, now, to Pittsburgh (10/25, 1:30 p.m.), 11-Foot-Tall 'Grandpa Gorilla' Vows to Chase Sen. Santorum Until He 'Takes a Stand' Against Bush's Proposal to Dismantle Social Security with a Risky Investment Scheme that would Slash Guaranteed Benefits and Explode the National Debt

Non-Partisan Senior Citizen Lobby Group, Pennsylvania Action, joined by Americans United, to Announce Wednesday (10/25), at Senator Santorum's Pittsburgh Office, ‘Golden Promise’ Campaign to Protect Social Security and Stop Privatization

Organizations Seek Santorum's Commitment to Sign ‘Golden Promise’ to Protect Social Security and Halt Risky Social Security Privatization Scheme .

The Golden Promise is a formal pledge Members of Congress are being encouraged to sign in order to protect Social Security and oppose efforts to privatize it:
The Golden Promise

Social Security guarantees Americans that if they work hard, contribute, and play by the rules, they have earned the right to retire in dignity, and their families will be protected in the event of disability or death.

We are united in our commitment to strengthen Social Security, not privatize it. We will work to improve the retirement security of all Americans and will oppose any scheme for deep benefit cuts or massive debt to fund risky private accounts.

HUGE RALLY THIS SATURDAY!

The Big Bash is at Riverview Park in the Brighton Heights/Observatory Hill section of North Side.

IT'S FREE!

GOV. RENDELL AND BOB CASEY WILL BE THERE


Mark Your Calendar:
Saturday, October 28
from 3:30 to 6:30 PM
Main Pavilion
Riverview Park


FREE food, music and door-prizes. Bring your friends and family.

This event is sponsored by the City of Pittsburgh Democratic Committee and is open to all.

If you have any questions, call Rob Frank at 412-431-4828

Eric Heyl on the Casey/Santorum Race: Appears Over

Another spanking from the city's conservative press. Eric Heyl writes today:
In the Senate campaign, Republican incumbent Rick Santorum appears poised to go from lunching with lobbyists on K Street to searching for work on Dismay Street.
And
But to truly comprehend how far the senator from Virginia by way of Penn Hills has seen his fortunes plummet, consider that a gorilla will play a part today in trying to take him down. [emphasis added]
See that? Even Eric Heyl calls Lil Ricky "the senator from Virginia." That's gotta sting.

Heyl goes on to write about an event today at Santorum's Pittsburgh office. The gorilla he mentions will be there as part of the protest by "Pennsylvania Action." Seems they don't like Rick's ideas to privatize Social Security.

Poor Rick.

Then Heyl unveils the big one:
As for Casey, now that his debates with Santorum have concluded, he has resumed the tortoise impression that has produced a seemingly insurmountable 14-point lead in today's Trib poll.

There exists no reason for the near-senator-elect to poke his head out of his shell before election night. Short of evidence emerging that Casey bankrolls makeshift abortion clinics in Somerset County farm silos staffed by medically unlicensed Islamic fundamentalists or gun control advocates, this one appears over. [emphasis added]
14 points, huh? From the Tribune-Review? Yet another example of the lib-rul media at work.

/ - Eric Heyls says it's over.

Altmire/Hart Debate Update

Now it's out in the open. In a piece about Melissa Hart and Jason Almire both answering questions, side by side, at the Post-Gazette, Gary Rothstein writes:
It was a rare joint appearance by them, as Ms. Hart has thus far rejected several invitations to publicly debate her opponent. The pair were respectful to each other, sticking to issues rather than personal attacks. [emphasis added]
So there you have it. No debates because Melissa Hart has "rejected" the invitations.

Now why is that? Why won't she debate the opponent that the Tribune Review has said is running neck and neck with her?

What is she afraid of?

, - no debate so far, thanks to Missy.

October 24, 2006

Rick Santorum Lies on Hardball

Rick Santorum is on Harball right now. On Iraq he just said:
"I've not been 'stay the course.'"
Really?

Philadelphia Inquirer 7/7/06:
"Santorum makes firm call to stay the course in Iraq"

Yesterday, Santorum barely mentioned Bush as he laid out a case for staying the course.

Unlike most previous wars, the conflict in Iraq is unconventional - from the battlefield to the enemy to the tactics it employs - complicating efforts to explain the rationale to the public, Santorum said.
Then there's this from The Intelligencer. It's from his spokesman:
Santorum “does believe that things are going well over in Iraq,” said Robert Traynham, a spokesman for the senator. “He agrees with the president that we should stay the course.
And if that's not good enough for you. Here's something from the Senator's own website:
"We are fighting an elusive enemy, but as a testament to our vigilance and preparedness, we have not seen another attack on our homeland since September 11, 2001. The President has been clear, we will stay the course in Iraq to send a message to those who seek to destroy democracy and hurt innocent people. We are a country of resolve and determination and we cannot waiver in our mission to secure democracy in Iraq; it is essential to safeguarding democracy and peace around the world."
- flip-flopping on "."

Bush: "I'm all about cutting and running"

Your eyes and ears have deceived you. The choice has not been "stay the course" or "cut and run."

"Stay the course"was never part of it. (That will teach you dirty, damn, liberal hippies to stop taking those hallucinogenic drugs and dreaming up phrases to try to put into Bush's mouth.)

From Think Progress:
STEPHANOPOULOS: James Baker says that he’s looking for something between “cut and run” and “stay the course.”

BUSH: Well, hey, listen, we’ve never been “stay the course,” George. We have
been — we will complete the mission, we will do our job, and help achieve the goal, but we’re constantly adjusting to tactics. Constantly.
See! Bush has NEVER been “stay the course."

So just stop it!



He never said that!

The 2006 Pennsylvania Hip Hop Political Convention (PHHPC)

Represent Penn State is hosting the 3rd annual PA Hip Hop Political Convention this weekend 10/27-10/29 in coordination with the Pittsburgh League of Young Voters and is actively seeking attendees.

The three day conference will feature training workshops, networking events, and regional caucus meetings primarily focusing on young-voter Get Out The Vote (GOTV) training. Topics will include: non-traditional GOTV, grassroots media and communication, tech based gotv, running an effective election day program, arts based organizing and alliance building. For more info/schedule visit the link below.

This year's conference features the legendary Davey D, Paradise Gray from the hip-hop group X-Clan and Progressive Majority's Malia Lazu.

All convention attendees will be provided with GOTV materials, a 9-day action plan and presented with a "GOTV organizer" certificate. All attendees from PSU can volunteer to work with Represent Penn State to help get out PSU voters on Election Day following the conference.

The conference will be held at the HUB in Heritage Hall beginning at 1:00pm Friday and continuing through Sunday afternoon with training sessions in Willard Building. Cost for PSU students is $15 and can be paid by check/cash (payable to Represent) Friday or Saturday during registration or by dropping off a check at the HUB info desk (in a labeled envelope) for Represent.

If you would like to attend you must register online at www.representpennstate.org
–> PA political hip hop convention link.

For more information please contact Trey Thomas at treythomas@psu.edu or call the Pittsburgh League of Young Voters at 412.728.2197.

www.pittsburgh.indyvoter.org

Chelsa Wagner Campaign Events

Chelsa Wagner for State Representative Happy Hour
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
Shiloh Inn, 123 Shiloh Street, Mt. Washington
Please click here for more information and to RSVP online

Candidates Debate this Thursday
Thursday, October 26, 2006
St. Marks Evangelical Lutheran Church, 933 Brookline Blvd. Brookline
Doors open at 7pm

Signs and More Signs
If you would like a yard sign, please call the campaign headquarters at 412-207-7908 and they can have one delivered to you.

Election Day Volunteers Needed
Volunteers are needed to help work the polls, door-knock, make phone calls and more on election day. Please call Angela at 412-207-7908 to sign up to help on election day.

www.chelsawagner.com

Despicable

You know how Wingnuts are always falsely claiming that the Left are rooting for the War on Iraq to go badly?

Well, kiddies, one of the first rules for understanding Rethuglicans is that they project their own evil on to others.

So what were the bastards in the White House rooting for?

From Think Progress:
REPORT: Bush Officials Were ‘Rooting’ For North Korea to Test Nuclear Weapon

Senior Bush administration officials wanted North Korea to test a nuclear weapon because it would prove their point that the regime must be overthrown.

This astonishing revelation was buried in the middle of a Washington Post story published yesterday. Glenn Kessler reports from Moscow as he accompanies Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice:

Before North Korea announced it had detonated a nuclear device, some senior officials even said they were quietly rooting for a test, believing that would finally clarify the debate within the administration.
Until now, no U.S. official in any administration has ever advocated the testing of nuclear weapons by another country, even by allies such as the United Kingdom and France.One of these officials may have been Rice herself, Kessler hints. Rice, he reports, “has come close to saying the test was a net plus for the United States.” Rice has been trying to counter the prevailing view that the test was a failure of the Bush administration’s policy.

Despicable

Cool Video

Saw it at AmericaBlog

E-mailed into me

An astute reader e-mailed in a scanning of something she'd gotten in the Post Office Mail. It's some anti-Altmire campaign literature.

Very interesting stuff. From the text, you'd think that his first name was "Lobbyist" and his middle name Jason. "Lobbyist Jason Altmire..." and so on.

But again, why would the republicans think that "lobbyist" is a dirty word? I thought they were the party of K-Street. Haven't they based a great deal of their governance on lobbying?

Incidentially, in the text I counted 7 uses of the word "Lobbyist" and 8 uses of the term "tax" (as in "big taxing liberals" etc).

Gee, I wonder what message they're trying to get across.

I'll try to get an image of the mailing posted by the end of the day - I'm also waiting on a comment from the Altmire Campaign.

Morning Pittsburgh. Enjoy the weather. This is what it'll look like for the next, oh, 5 months or so.

UPDATE: Here's the mailer.



And the other side.

More (real) Poll Numbers

From the T:
Two weeks before the midterm elections, Pennsylvania voters appear ready to elect two Democrats to top statewide offices, according to a new McClatchy-MSNBC poll.

In the race for U.S. Senate, Democratic challenger Bob Casey retains a steady, 12-point lead over incumbent Republican Sen. Rick Santorum, according to the poll. Among likely voters, 51 percent of those surveyed said they would vote for Casey, 39 percent for Santorum.

That was a slight, but not significant, bump for Casey from the 49-40 advantage he held three weeks ago in a similar poll.
Depends on how one defines "significant" I guess. I guess since the "bumps" are within the 4-point margin of error, then yea - they're not that significant.

However with one "bump" for Casey edging upward and the other "bump" for Santorum edging down, what was a 9-point lead has become (I guess) a 12 point lead.

Ask yourself this. What would've happened if Santorum "bumped" up 2 points and Casey "bumped" down 1? What would've happened if the numbers were Santorum-42/Casey-48? Rightwing blowhards all over would be screaming that this proves there is movement in Santorum's favor - that the race is finally tightening.

But that's not what happened. And so because whatever movement there is, is in Casey's favor, the "bumps" inside the margin of error are "not significant."

In any case, it's bad news for , bad news for God's Own Party, and bad news for the social conservatives upon whom they depend.

And that means it's a very good thing.

October 23, 2006

Chat with Jason Altmire

Whigsboy beat me to this (in a comment on MY blog! Inconceivable!!) but I wanted to post it up front.

Jon Delano is having another one of his talkshoe chats tomorrow at 9am. According to the invite, Jason Altmire will be participating and will outlining his campaign strategy. The invite also said that Melissa Hart was invited but was "unavailable."

Here's the link.

I won't be able to participate, sorry.

By all means, please run this ad!

The GOP put out a new ad that was slated to run yesterday on the news shows. It's the same, old same old WE'RE ALL GOING TO DIE IF YOU VOTE FOR THE DEMOCRATS.

Has anyone actually seen it broadcast as a commercial? (Seeing it discussed on Chris Matthew's and other shows doesn't count.)

It's no longer even featured on the GOP's own website.

Maybe someone realized that an ad trying to scare us with Bin Laden only leads folks to ask: WELL, WHERE IS HE? WHY HAVEN'T YOU CAPTURED HIM YET?

You can see the ad below in all its pathetic gory "glory":

Melissa Hart's Troubles Continue

She gets spanked again in Dickiecougarmellonscaife's Tribune-Review. In this Sunday's Sunday Pops column we find this:
U.S. Rep. Melissa Hart, R-Bradford Woods, is out with an ad admonishing Democrat upstart Jason Altmire for running negative ads in their neck-and-neck 4th Congressional District battle. But at the same time, the National Republican Congressional Committee is airing what, by Ms. Hart's standards, is a negative ad against Mr. Altmire. Translation: Hart is fading down the stretch.
A few things to point out from the Pittsburgh's conservative newspaper.
  • They say the race is "neck-and-neck."
  • They conclude that her campaign is "fading down the stretch."
As I've written before (well, yesterday) in politics perception is everything. If that's indeed the case, here's another example from the city's conservative press to show that Missy Hart is in deep doo-doo.

, are neck and neck and Missy's fading down the stretch. Thus spake the Tribune-Review.

October 22, 2006

Melissa Hart - "Fighting for Her Political Survival"?

That's what David Brown's written in Dickiecougarmellonscaife's Tibune Review. Take a look.
Republican U.S. Rep. Melissa Hart has made a career out of crushing Democrats in their backyards.

Now Hart, 44, of Bradford Woods, is fighting for her political survival as she faces her first formidable challenger in years in a district that favors Democrats and at a time when a series of Republican scandals and the war in Iraq threaten to depress GOP turnout in congressional races nationwide. [emphasis added]
I should say it again - this is in the Tribune-Review. There's an adage in politics (or so I'm told) that perception is everything. And so if the conservative paper in town says that conservative Missy Hart is percieved as vulnerable, then she most definitely is.

There's more:
Larry Sabato, a political science professor at the University of Virginia, said "clear signs of a Democratic wave" are developing.

"The critical remaining question is how high the wave will be. If it's a medium wave, Hart will probably survive. If it's a high wave, she will probably be swept out," Sabato said.
So it depends on the size of the wave that may be crashing through Washington. Hart-ville must be worried about this paragraph:
But with the election less than three weeks away, national pundits are listing Hart's race against Democrat Jason Altmire in Pennsylvania's 4th Congressional District as one to watch for a possible upset. [emphasis added]
Again, perception is everything.
Sensing an opportunity and needing a net gain of 15 seats to retake control of the House, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is preparing to release TV spots on Altmire's behalf. And despite Hart's financial advantage -- she had $1.1 million in the bank on Sept. 30, compared to $273,621 for Altmire -- the National Republican Congressional Committee on Tuesday bought almost $200,000 in television time to defend the seat.
And so I'll ask it again - or better yet, here's what Gary Rothstein writes in the P-G this morning:
In fact, (Jason Altmire) and his supporters say their optimism has been buoyed more than anything by the National Republican Congressional Committee's spending of at least $160,000 starting last week on commercials that name Mr. Altmire and attack his stance to let national tax cuts expire. If the GOP did not have its own information that Ms. Hart was in jeopardy, they reason, the national committee would spend its money in races it deemed more at risk.[emphasis added]
Peception is everything. Missy's in trouble.