We are the 99%

November 30, 2007

The Most Ridiculous Item Of The Day:

Mike Pintek.

I caught a little of Night Talk last night. In the first segment, prior to a surprisingly entertaining taped interview with Peter Tork of the Monkees, Pintek interviewed Ron Kessler, author of the new book The Terrorist Watch.

Kessler described the 8-month long interrogation/debriefing of the captured Saddam Hussein by FBI special agent George Piro and this, Pintek fans, is where the fun began.

Kessler said that Saddam admitted to Piro that he had no WMD before the 2003 invasion. He faked having the weapons because he wanted Iran to think he had them.

At that point, if you looked hard enough, you would've seen Pintek's brain going into overdrive (what-do I-do-now-what-do I-do-now-what-do I-do-now?). Dancing quickly, he was able to establish that Saddam must've had lied to absolutely everyone about the non-existent WMD. And then by a few short steps of conservative illogic, he was able to imply that the Bush administration was merely wrong (that is, not dishonest) about Saddam's WMD - carefully letting George W. Bush off the hook for lying to us about Saddam's WMD.

Nice try, Mike. Didn't work and it made you look desperate, but a nice try nonetheless.

Here's Kessler in his own words. From Newsmax.com:

Saddam confided to Piro why he had no weapons of mass destruction but pretended he did. Saddam said that because of the war of attrition he had with Iran, Iran always remained a threat to him. And if Iran thought he had serious WMD, it would be reluctant to engage him again. On the other hand, if he said he had them, Iran would never listen. But if the U.S. said that he had them, Iran would believe it.

So every time inspectors came, Saddam gave them the runaround, reinforcing for Iran’s consumption the notion that he had WMD. And that explains why, if there were no WMD, he acted as if he did have them.

It's a mystery to me why Newsmax is allowing this on its site. But that is neither here nor there.

The point is, here's an FBI agent telling a experinced author who's written a number of books on the US intelligence services (the CIA, FBI and so on) as well as a book called "A Matter of Character: Inside the White House of George W. Bush" that one of the main reasons for the war in Iraq is wrong.

And Pintek spun it the best he could - into Dubya's incompetence.

Good going Mike. Yer doin a hekuva job.

November 29, 2007

Rudy and Judy

This hit the fan yesterday.
As New York mayor, Rudy Giuliani billed obscure city agencies for tens of thousands of dollars in security expenses amassed during the time when he was beginning an extramarital relationship with future wife Judith Nathan in the Hamptons, according to previously undisclosed government records.
More details:

The practice of transferring the travel expenses of Giuliani's security detail to the accounts of obscure mayoral offices has never been brought to light, despite behind-the-scenes criticism from the city comptroller weeks after Giuliani left office.

The expenses first surfaced as Giuliani's two terms as mayor of New York drew to a close in 2001, when a city auditor stumbled across something unusual: $34,000 worth of travel expenses buried in the accounts of the New York City Loft Board.

There were also expenses buried in the accounts of offices assigned to helping the disabled and for providing legal assistance to indigent defendants. Another interesting bit:
Nathan would go on to become Giuliani’s third wife, but his second marriage was officially intact until the spring of 2000, and City Hall officials at the time responded to questions about his absences by saying he was spending time with his son and playing golf.
So the Giuliani administration hid the expenses so that no one would know about the extramarital affair the then-Mayor of New York was having then they used his son as a cover story to further lie about the affair itself.

Never fear, Rudy's responded:
First of all, it's not true. I had 24-hour security for the eight years that I was mayor. They followed me everyplace I went. It was because there were, you know, threats, threats that I don't generally talk about. Some have become public recently; most of them haven't.

And they took care of me, and they put in their records, and they handled them in the way they handled them," Giuliani said. "I had nothing to do with the handling of their records, and they were handled, as far as I know, perfectly appropriately.
Which leads Josh Marshall to write:

So he sort of denies it. But he actually just said he left it to the police and he figures they did it right. "They handled them in the way they handled them" -- what you might call Rudy's trademark aggressive truism.

Read closely, Rudy isn't denying anything. He's just saying he's not responsible.

He says the security detail went with me everywhere, i.e., they had to come when I went to visit Judy too. And I can't be responsible for where they billed the expense to. So Rudy's argument is that in the city he runs, actually in the office of the mayor, someone else was hiding these charges to shield the affair. But not him and he didn't know about it.

But the AP article notes that it was the tab was ultimately picked up elsewhere:
Later, an aide said that for accounting purposes, the expenses appear to have been temporarily allocated to city offices and paid for out of the mayor's budget but that the police department ultimately picked up the tab and reimbursed the mayor's office at the end of each year.
I wonder how the media, obsessed as it was for a while about John Edwards' haircuts or Hillary Clinton's cleavage will deal with Rudy Giuliani's taxpayer funded infidelities.

And since he's a Republican, when can we expect to hear an outcry from God's Own Party about how a frontrunner for that party's nomination as President of the United States was routinely breaking (by my count) three of the Ten Commandments while the taxpayers were paying for the security for his infidelities?

November 28, 2007

Heard on Fred Honsberger's Show Yesterday

Kathleen Willey has written a book. And for that, she was on Fred's air. You can listen to the interview here and here.

For those who don't remember, in 1998 Kathleen Willey accused then-President Clinton of sexually assaulting her in the White House in 1993.

During the interview with Fred, she stated that she'd been offered a great deal of money from the tabloids for her story. She didn't take that money because she felt that it would damage her credibility.

Oops. Too late.

Take a look at what the Office of Independent Counsel (the good folks who spend tens of millions of dollars investigationg the Clinton White House in the late 90s) had to say about Willey's honesty.

Page 7:
The Independent Counsel agreed not to prosecute Willey for any offense arising out of the investigation, including false statements in her Jones deposition, so long as she cooperated fully and truthfully with the investigation. Following that first immunity agreement, Willey gave false information to the FBI about her sexual relationship with a former boyfriend, and acknowledged having lied about it when the agents confronted her with contradictory evidence. Following Willey’s acknowledgement, the Independent Counsel agreed not to prosecute her for false statements in this regard.
She acknowledged lying to the OIC and the FBI.

And then there's the contradictions with other OIC testimony. For instance Linda Tripp's. This is from Salon.com:
Tripp testified she saw Willey "a lot" the day of her meeting with Clinton. "A lot," she repeated. And she met Willey after the meeting, as planned, and described her as being "very excited, happy, but flustered and completely overwhelmed by the event." Tripp said her face was "flushed," and she "smiled from ear to ear." Tripp said Willey related that she told Clinton "something to the effect that she was throwing herself" on his mercy, when he suddenly kissed her forcefully. "'His tongue was down my throat'" and "'I think I kissed him back,'" Tripp quoted Willey as saying. "His hands were all over her backside," and "he put her hand on his penis," Tripp claimed Willey told her. That night Willey and Tripp "discussed whether Willey would be a girlfriend of the president," said Tripp.
Hardly good news for Bill, but a far far cry from a sexual assault. And given the context of the feeding-frenzy at the time, why would Linda Tripp tell this story and not an assault story if she knew the assault story? Why wouldn't Kathleen Willey tell Linda Tripp the assault story?

According to the salon.com article, Willey and Tripp had been working together for months to somehow get Clinton to return Kathleen Willey's flirtatious affections.

Finally there's this from the OIC:

Willey and President Clinton, the only two percipient witnesses to the alleged encounter, substantially and materially disagree on what occurred. The burden of proving what actually occurred in a case against President Clinton rests on the prosecutor, and Willey would be the government’s principal witness. In the Independent Counsel’s judgment, the evidence was insufficient to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that the President’s deposition testimony about his conduct with Willey was false.

Linda Tripp’s testimony that Willey had a previous romantic interest in President Clinton (and appeared to view his alleged advances positively) departed from Willey’s testimony. Tripp’s cooperation with this Office in the Lewinsky investigation ultimately yielded evidence about President Clinton’s conduct with Monica Lewinsky that was contrary to the President’s testimony. Thus, evidence supplied by Linda Tripp regarding Willey that was consistent with President Clinton’s testimony would likely be favorably received by a jury.

Even assuming Willey’s testimony was truthful about the incident with President Clinton, her testimony at trial would be subject to further challenge based on the differences between her deposition and grand jury statements, as well as her acknowledgement of false statements to the Office of the Independent Counsel. Concerns about the probative effect of Willey’s testimony would likely be sufficient to negate a conclusion that “the person [charged] probably will be found guilty by an unbiased trier of fact.”

In short, there was insufficient evidence to prove to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt that President Clinton’s testimony regarding Kathleen Willey was false. Accordingly, the Independent Counsel declined prosecution and the investigation of potential criminal wrongdoing relating to Willey’s allegations is now closed.

This is the OIC talking here. In short, Kathleen Willey has some serious credibility problems. None of which made it onto Fred's show, of course. In fact, he did say on the show that he believes Kathleen Willey. Ugh.

Fred also made mention of Yassir Arafat "waiting in the Rose Garden" during one of the Clinton/Lewinsky encounters. Uh, not so fast, Fred. This is from the Committee of Concerned Journalists. The CCJ's mission is described here:

The Starr Report differed in some key areas from the Drudge Report. Lewinsky testified to using the cigar sexually and to Clinton then putting it in his mouth and commenting on it. But according to Lewinsky's testimony there was no mutual masturbation and the meeting was in general less sordid than the leaks. There is also no support in the Starr Report for Drudge's allegation that Yassir Arafat was waiting in the Rose Garden when an encounter took place (the Drudge Report is not clear about what encounter it is writing about)[emphasis added]

So Fred was channelling the Drudge Report?? Oh, Fred. You gotta do better than that.

Oh, and Fred also reran the discredited Juanita Broaddrick story.

All in all, standard Fred.

Every now and then it's good to go home.

November 27, 2007

The Lott Resignation

The LA Times (by way of the P-G) is reporting:

Sen. Trent Lott, a 35-year Capitol Hill veteran who staged a political comeback after losing his Senate leadership post because of racially insensitive remarks, plans to resign from office before the year is out.

With his decision, the Senate's No. 2 Republican will avoid a new ethics rule that takes effect by the end of the year, allowing him to pursue a lucrative lobbying job after a year's wait rather than after two years.

Take note of that: he has to resign before the year is out because the new law (the one that takes effect 2008) would make him wait an extra year before cashing in on his Senate connections.

But look at the other side of the story. From The Hill:

The timing of Sen. Trent Lott’s (R-Miss.) resignation has opened legal questions about the date of the ensuing special election, and state Democrats might fight for a date earlier than what the Republican governor is proposing.

Gov. Haley Barbour said in a statement Monday that he would schedule the special election for the same day as the November 2008 general election. State law, however, appears intended to require an earlier date if Lott retires this year, as he said he would.

And that's where the friction is found. It all rests on a technicality:

In an exception to the 90-day rule, the law says the governor “shall designate” the special election for the same day as the general election if a vacancy occurs the same calendar year as a statewide election. Mississippi had a statewide election earlier this month, so Barbour would be setting the special election for the next statewide election in 2008.

The secretary of state in Mississippi is Eric Clark, a third-term Democrat. His spokesman agreed that Barbour was using a technicality.

The State Democratic Party plans to fight this:
The law “makes clear that if Sen. Lott does indeed resign during this calendar year, as stated, then Gov. Barbour must call a special election for within 90 days of making a proclamation — which he must issue within 10 days of the resignation — and not on Nov. 4, 2008, as he has announced he intends to do,” state Democratic Chairman Wayne Dowdy said.
Fact of the matter is, while it would always be difficult for a Democrat to win that seat, it would be easier for the Republicans if Barbour has his way and appoints a replacement now and schedules the election for November, 2008. That way the replacement would have nearly a year to raise money, establish a record and so on.

But as Greg Sargent pointed out at TPMElection Central:
So, in effect, Lott has to choose between resigning this year, which would help his short term lobbying career, and resigning next year, which would help the GOP hold his seat.
And which path did Lott choose?

Nifty select-a-candidate poll

I've take more than a few of these online select-a-candidate surveys over the years, but I must say that the one by Minnesota Public Radio and published online by the Post-Gazette last Friday is surely one of the more sophisticated around.

Usually when you take these polls you can change a couple of answers and still get the exact same result, but not with this one. I took it twice because I accidentally navigated away from the page before I could copy my results. The second time around I did change a couple of answers slightly and Edwards dropped from my first tier picks to my second (questions are weighted depending on their importance to you and also actual candidate answers are often used vs. more generic summaries of their opinions).

They also allow you to put their widget on your blog. Here's the poll:


If you're curious, here's my results:
24.0: Chris Dodd, Dennis Kucinich, Bill Richardson
22.0: Hillary Clinton, John Edwards
21.0: Joe Biden, Barack Obama
16.0: Mike Gravel
10.0: Rudy Giuliani, Ron Paul
5.0: Mike Huckabee
4.0: Mitt Romney
3.0: Duncan Hunter, Tom Tancredo, Fred Thompson
1.0: John McCain

November 26, 2007

Biting it

And another one gone, and another one gone, another one bites the dust:
Hastert formally resigns from Congress, setting special election in motion

Lott Says He'll Resign by End of Year


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Dennis Kucinich Hearts Ron Paul


As a lefty, commie, progressive, liberal-type, I know that I'm supposed to like Dennis Kucinich. I know that I agree with him on many positions. But I've never really been a big fan. I chalk some of that up to the fact that I just don't trust people who have last minute conversions on big issues right before they make a run for president (Kucinich possessed one of the most antiabortion voting records of any Democrat in Congress right up until he announced his presidential candidacy the first time in 2003).

But, I have to admit that part of my dislike of him was that he often comes off as shrill and sanctimonious and -- sorry, folks -- I have a difficult time believing that a majority of Americans will vote for someone who looks like a Keebler Elf (not saying that's right, just that that is).

I know more than one fellow progressive who almost feels guilty not liking Kucinich more. They also know that they're supposed to, but they just can't bring themselves to support the guy.

So it's really nice to feel vindicated in my supreme ambivalence towards the Wingnuts' embodiment of a "moonbat":
"I'm thinking about Ron Paul" as a running mate, Kucinich told a crowd of about 70 supporters at a house party here, one of numerous stops throughout New Hampshire over the Thanksgiving weekend. A Kucinich-Paul administration could bring people together "to balance the energies in this country," Kucinich said.

It would create a stunning, if dizzying, blend of beliefs, wedding two politicians who hold different views on abortion rights, the role of government in providing health care, and the use of government in fostering -- or hampering -- the public's greater good. Those are among the reasons it would never work, said a spokesman for Paul, a congressman and doctor from Texas.

Anyone who's read this blog much knows that I have absolutely no respect for Ron Paul and, aside from both being against the War On Iraq, it's hard to think what Kucinich and Paul have in common. I will therefore make a guess as to what really motivated him.

Just as I find Kucinich extremely opportunistic in throwing off his pro-life mantle at a strategic moment, I believe that he's now grasping at those Democrats and Independents who say they like both men (the ones who drive me crazy).

Dennis, you've lost whatever progressive cred you may have had with this move. You haven't just seen a UFO, you're now apparently transmitting signals from one.

(h/t to Geekesque at Daily Kos.)

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Lest we forget

Today is:

“National Toupee Forgiveness Day 2007”



More info here.

So...How's That AFGHAN War Going?

Not too good, according to this piece in the Washington Post.

A White House assessment of the war in Afghanistan has concluded that wide-ranging strategic goals that the Bush administration set for 2007 have not been met, even as U.S. and NATO forces have scored significant combat successes against resurgent Taliban fighters, according to U.S. officials.

The evaluation this month by the National Security Council followed an in-depth review in late 2006 that laid out a series of projected improvements for this year, including progress in security, governance and the economy. But the latest assessment concluded that only "the kinetic piece" -- individual battles against Taliban fighters -- has shown substantial progress, while improvements in the other areas continue to lag, a senior administration official said.

And there's something familiar about this, too.

This judgment reflects sharp differences between U.S. military and intelligence officials on where the Afghan war is headed. Intelligence analysts acknowledge the battlefield victories, but they highlight the Taliban's unchallenged expansion into new territory, an increase in opium poppy cultivation and the weakness of the government of President Hamid Karzai as signs that the war effort is deteriorating.

The contrasting views echo repeated internal disagreements over the Iraq war: While the military finds success in a virtually unbroken line of tactical achievements, intelligence officials worry about a looming strategic failure.

So I guess just focusing on the military successes misses the bigger picture.

Jack Kelly's piece in yesterday's P-G touched on the flip side of this argument - but focusing exclusively in Iraq. I got in too late yesterday to write it up so I'll try to tackle it tonight. On the issue of the reduction of violence in Iraq, all I can do right now is to point to this on-line chat at the Washington Post with Thomas Ricks, who's been covering the war in Iraq for some time:

Boonsboro, Md.: When will it be okay to state that we are winning in Iraq and all the naysayers ("the war is lost") were wrong? Even the New York Times is admitting things are going well.

Thomas E. Ricks: Well, things are going better. I just got back from Baghdad last week, and it was clear that violence has decreased. But it hasn't gone away. It is only back down to the 2005 level -- which to my mind is kind of like moving from the eighth circle of hell to the fifth.

I interviewed dozens of officers and none were willing to say we are winning. What they were saying is that at least now, we are not losing. But to a man, they were enormously frustrated by what they see as the foot-dragging of the Baghdad government.

And that's good news? At least we're not losing?

Heckuva job yer doin there, Bushie. Heckuva job.

November 23, 2007

There ought to be a law . . .

From Gloria at The Pittsburgh Women's Blogging Society:

Source: WPXI – Rick Earle story, he’s doing a follow up.

The details I have:

Pgh. Police Ofcr. Bradley Walker was arrested – 2 counts of assault. Spent night in All. County jail. Is now out, without bail, back on active duty with NO restrictions – yes, that means he still has his gun.

With all of the media attention, council hearings, public outcry & demand for redress over the last 6 months, this is how the police brass reacts to Walker’s situation?

Council will deliberate the new ordinance, which merges Shields/Peduto’s work with that of the Admin. & Police Dept., on Weds., November 28th.
The police cannot not be allowed to police themselves.

And, under the guidelines of the International Association of Chiefs of Police this officer would not be permitted to carry a gun.
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November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving!

Blogging from an undisclosed location somewhere on the East Coast...

I've seen a couple of these things around the local blogs and so I thought I'd try my hand.

Six Things I am thankful for:

1 - Family and fiancee. No need to elaborate here, is there?

2 - Friends. I can't tell you how good it feels to get an unexpected e-mail that says just the right thing at just the right time (especially in the last month or so). In return it's pushing me to work harder to be a better friend to those around me. A HUGE thank you to you all.

3 - Jack Kelly's weekly screed. It's a tradition here at 2PJ. Sunday morning, sleep in until 8am or so and then tackle the P-G's conservative bloward. I have to admit, some weeks are easier than others to deconstruct the well-armed J-Kel. Sources my blog posts have absolutely no effect on the man himself. Which is good, in a way, as it guarantees me a new stream of raw sewage material every seven days.

4 - Whole Foods. I'm only a few minutes away from good cheap sushi.

5 - Our Trolls old and new. I don't see Braden posting much anymore and Heir to the Throne is almost as silent, but John K is a continuing source of unintentional humor. The rhetorical methodology of each is different but it all seems to have the same goal - say anything to distract from dubya's many many failures. With Braden, it was to scream "Hypocrisy!" anytime someone disagreed with him (for liberals are supposed to embrace diversity, doncha know) and then change the subject to Bill Clinton's penis or Sandy Berger's socks. For John K, the methology is much cruder. He just changes the subject. Needless to say, it's all very funny.

6 - The Bush Administration. Don't get me wrong. I'd much rather have an administration that obeys the law, doesn't claim the authority to spy on its own citizens, doesn't start completely unecessary wars under obviously false pretenses, doesn't seek to shred the Constitution at every decision it makes, and doesn't out, of sheer incompentence, let an entire city drown. For that matter, I'd also much rather have a Congress that took its Constitutionally mandated oversight responsibilities much more seriously. But hey, it all gives me something to write about every single frickin day.

I'm also thankful for Maria, the OPJ - if she didn't start this blog, I'd still be writing about Fred Honsberger.

Happy Thanksgiving!

A few years back I had a boss who was an immigrant from Latin America. Many of my coworkers were also immigrants from all around the world.

While the boss was widely regarded as a real SOB, he always made a big deal of celebrating Thanksgiving at the company. We'd have a party and do a turkey raffle where everyone would end up with a turkey or ham.

But, the nicest thing would be the speech he made.

He would say that Thanksgiving was a special holiday to him because he thought of it as being uniquely American. Unlike most, it was a holiday that did not commemorate a battle or a leader, nor was it based in a particular religion's tenets.

It was simply a day in which Americans gave thanks for what we have.

In a time when we clamor to build walls to keep people out or rush headlong into giving up long cherished rights out of fear, it's sometimes nice to step back and hear the perspective of someone not born here who can see this country with fresh eyes and be thankful for what it still offers.




(OK, this is 2pj and I cannot dwell completely in
the sentimental. I am also thankful for the snark!)
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November 21, 2007

Bush & Cheney lied to public; implicated in Plame scandal

From former White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan's new book:

"The most powerful leader in the world had called upon me to speak on his behalf and help restore credibility he lost amid the failure to find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. So I stood at the White House briefing room podium in front of the glare of the klieg lights for the better part of two weeks and publicly exonerated two of the senior-most aides in the White House: Karl Rove and Scooter Libby.

"There was one problem. It was not true.

"I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president's chief of staff, and the president himself."
The CNN story on this helpfully reminds us that, "Rove, who left the White House staff at the end of August, was not charged in the case. But his lawyer has acknowledged he was one of two sources cited by syndicated columnist Bob Novak, who first reported in the summer of 2003 that Plame worked for the CIA."

Now here's where the Wingnuts will cry that Former Deputy Secretary of State Richard Armitage admitted to revealing the identity of CIA officer Valerie Plame COMPLETELY IGNORING THE FACT THAT THERE WERE MULTIPLE LEAKERS TO MULTIPLE REPORTERS/COLUMNISTS.

Is there anything about this was that Bush and Cheney haven't lied about?

IMPEACH
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And as if on cue . . .

(See yesterday's discussion here. My question has been answered: the number is 2.)


From the Washington Post:
DENVER -- The Colorado Supreme Court cleared the way Tuesday for an anti-abortion group to collect signatures for a ballot measure that would define a fertilized egg as a person.

The court approved the language of the proposal, rejecting a challenge from abortion-rights supporters who argued it was misleading and dealt with more than one subject in violation of the state constitution.

If approved by voters, the measure would give fertilized eggs the state constitutional protections of inalienable rights, justice and due process.

"Proponents of this initiative have publicly stated that the goal is to make all abortion illegal _ but nothing in the language of the initiative or its title even mentions abortion," Kathryn Wittneben of NARAL Pro-Choice Colorado said in a statement. "If that's not misleading, I don't know what is."

Wittneben and others said the measure would have would hamper in-vitro fertilization and stem cell research and would effectively ban birth control.

[snip]

Colorado for Equal Rights must collect 76,000 signatures to get the measure on the ballot. Supporters have six months to gather the necessary signatures -- a deadline that began with the collection of the first signatures Tuesday, said Rich Coolidge, a spokesman for the secretary of state.

Anti-abortion activists said similar voter-led initiatives or legislative efforts are under way in five other states, including Montana, Georgia, Oregon, Michigan and South Carolina.
Let's repeat that one line:
Wittneben and others said the measure would have would hamper in-vitro fertilization and stem cell research and would effectively ban birth control.
Personally, I don't think the measure goes far enough as these would be unemancipated two-cellers. Give em the vote!

(h/t to Crooks and Liars for story and screen shot)
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November 20, 2007

This is how Bush is Supporting The Troops

Just as I was thinking that it was going to be another slow news night,something stinky hit the web.

Marty Griffin reports:

The U.S. Military is demanding that thousands of wounded service personnel give back signing bonuses because they are unable to serve out their commitments.

To get people to sign up, the military gives enlistment bonuses up to $30,000 in some cases.

Now men and women who have lost arms, legs, eyesight, hearing and can no longer serve are being ordered to pay some of that money back. [emphasis added]

There's a local connection to this story. A guy named Jordan Fox, serving in Iraq, was injured and lost all the sight in his right eye. He was sent home because of the injury and now the Pentagon wants part of his signing bonus back.

As Spencer Ackerman over at TPMCafe wrote:
Just in time for the holidays, there's a special place in Hell just waiting to be filled by some as-yet-unknown Pentagon bureaucrat.
Here's the coverage over at ThinkProgress. And at Carpetbagger.

Each report notes that last month Congressman Jason Altmire introduced legislation (H.R. 3793) in order to change this.

As of this evening, there are 219 cosponsors.

Don't let anyone tell you otherwise, this administration does NOT support the troops. Forcing them to pay back these signing bonuses is just the latest example.

Bush should be ashamed of himself.

Writers Strike: It's not just for Hollywood anymore!

Seems that the CBS News writers have decided to join in on the action:
CBS News writers authorized their union leaders to call a national strike, the Writers Guild of America said Monday, escalating a labor impasse.

About 500 CBS News television and radio writers — who work in New York, Los Angeles, Washington and Chicago — have been working under an expired contract since April 2005.

[snip]

In a prepared statement, the company said it "remains fully prepared, and ready to continue producing the highest quality news programming." [Uh-huh . . .]

[snip]

"Writers Guild members are sending their CBS bosses an irrefutable message of solidarity: we will do whatever it takes to get what we have earned and deserve," Michael Winship, president of Writers Guild of America East, said in a prepared statement.

Hollywood drama and comedy writers, who are also represented by the WGA, are entering the third week of an unrelated industry strike that has shaken network and cable television, threatening popular shows such as Fox's "24" and sending late-night talk shows, such as Comedy Central's "Daily Show with Jon Stewart," into unplanned reruns.
In the interest of fairness, we're giving the producers a chance to give their side of the story:

Alice's Restaurant - A Thanksgiving Tradition


I'm originally from New England, born in the same city as our Great And Glorious Leader, George W. Bush - New Haven Ct.

And when I was a boy, every year about this time it was a tradition for the New York radio stations to play one particular 18 minute piece of music.
Lyrics are here.
You can buy a copy here.
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
Walk right in it's around the back
Just a half a mile from the railroad track
You can get anything you want, at Alice's Restaurant
Happy Thanksgiving!

November 19, 2007

FOX News: Bed Bug Central!

From TVNewser:
TVNewser has learned that a small area of the Fox News Channel newsroom has evidence of insects believed to be bed bugs. What is not known is how the insects got into the basement-level newsroom of the News Corp. headquarters. Most likely, an employee or guest unknowingly transported the poppy seed-sized bugs on their clothing, which then made their way into the fabric or carpeting.
Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of folks!


A bed bug.
They suck on the blood of humans.
How appropriate is that!
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My Box.

Apparently all women have, er, um, two "boxes" -- or we're nothing but a box (cross-shaped to begin with, natch):


The ad ends with this: "So even if you think that there's just a small chance that an unborn child is a baby shouldn't you treat it as if it were just in case? Something to think about."

Well, I'm thinking about it and if you phrase it in terms of "unborn child" and "baby" and since "child" and "baby" have the same basic definition, you're not leaving me with much choice (no pun intended).

And, since I'm supposed to treat my "unborn child" in my "box" as a "baby" even if there's only a small chance that the unborn child/baby exits -- and apparently even when it looks like this:


Ahhh! Isn't it cute!

I guess I had better shake my box now and again to make sure nothing's in there. (I'm rooting for a pony!)

(h/t to Shakesville where I always find something interesting.)
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Today is Randy Pausch Day in the City of Pittsburgh


Pam Panchak/Post-Gazette

Councilman Bill Peduto read a proclamation today making November 19, 2007 Randy Pausch Day in the City of Pittsburgh.

Hopefully, most of you will recall that Randy Pausch is the former Carnegie Mellon University professor who gave a truly inspiring final lecture there on September 18, 2007.

The lecture gained notice on national news shows and Oprah.

Pausch was unable to appear in council chambers for the proclamation, but he did participate via speaker phone.

WSJ.com did a nice piece on the professor:


You can view the entire lecture here.

Police & Domestic Violence Ordinance

I'm hearing conflicting reports whether or not the Pittsburgh City Council will hold a preliminary vote today at the 1:00 PM standing committee meeting on the Police Domestic Violence Ordinance.

Anyone know for certain if it will be postponed again?

November 18, 2007

Just Noticed Something...

Anyone else catch this?

BLOGGERS' GLASS IS HALF FULL. Several anti-Ravenstahl bloggers were searching desperately for a silver lining in the dark clouds of the mayor's victory.
Offered the folks over at The Burgh Report: "DeSantis has put up the best numbers for a GOP mayoral candidate in Pittsburgh since 1965. Or phrased in the other direction, Luke Ravenstahl's performance was the worst by a Democrat in a Pittsburgh mayoral general election in 42 years."

The frequent Ravenstahl critics -- and big Trib fans -- over at 2 Political Junkies wrote, "Look on the bright side ... (local bloggers) will have tons of material for the next two years." [emphasis added]

Ravenstahl couldn't have enjoyed the negative postings about him in recent months, but we're guessing he got a few chuckles reading the blogs Wednesday. What's that old saying about he who laughs last?

Never really thought of myself (or the blog) as being a fan of The Trib. But if they see it that way, who am I to disagree? Anyway PLEEZE don't tell my friends (all three of them) at the P-G about this. They'll throw me out of the lefty-bloggers association.

Jack Kelly Sunday

Jack's got an interesting column this week.

First his rather startling admissions:
Al-Qaida had little presence in Iraq during the regime of Saddam Hussein. (2nd paragraph, 2nd sentence)
I wonder when J-Kel first thought this. His conversion must've been a recent. Take a look at this column from almost exactly 4 years ago about a memo leaked to Stephen Hayes of the Weekly Standard. Here's what Jack had to say back then:

The content of the memo, which was written by Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith to the leaders of the Senate Intelligence Committee in response to their questions, is worth more attention than Pincus gave it. It describes a secret relationship between Saddam's regime and al-Qaida that began in 1990 and intensified after the first Gulf war.

The Iraqis provided al-Qaida terrorists with training (particularly in the manufacture and use of biological and chemical weapons), false documents, money and some weapons, and a place to hide out when the heat was on.

In exchange, Osama bin Laden agreed to lay off Saddam (some in al-Qaida regarded his secular regime as nearly as offensive to Allah as the Jews or the Americans); to assist Iraq in smuggling into the country materials prohibited by the United Nations, and to attack some targets of interest to Iraq.

Pretty clearly, Jack thought back then that there was a presence. Where did the training take place if not in Iraq? Where was al-Qaida supposed to "hide out" if not in Iraq? Was Iraqi intelligence (or whomever was doing the funding or training) so powerful that these operational links existed but only outside the borders of Iraq? There's no hint in the column that he thinks the Hayes article was incorrect.

Here's the article, by the way. The first paragraph:
OSAMA BIN LADEN and Saddam Hussein had an operational relationship from the early 1990s to 2003 that involved training in explosives and weapons of mass destruction, logistical support for terrorist attacks, al Qaeda training camps and safe haven in Iraq, and Iraqi financial support for al Qaeda--perhaps even for Mohamed Atta--according to a top secret U.S. government memorandum obtained by THE WEEKLY STANDARD. [emphasis added]
Does Jack Kelly now think the Feith memo/Hayes article is wrong? If so, he should tell us. By the way, the Department of Defense issued a statement about the memo saying the news reports about the memo (i.e. the Hayes article) are "inaccurate." Hayes disagreed.

And then there's this:
It may have been a mistake for the United States to go to war in Iraq. (8th paragraph, 4th sentence)
I'm glad I was sitting down when these words crossed my field of vision. That's a huge concession from Commando Kelly, doncha think?

But let's get back to the column. Jack seems to have had a change of mind regarding the so-called "flypaper" strategy. Take a look at the whole 8th paragraph:
Canadian columnist David Warren speculated some years ago that enticing al-Qaida to fight there was one of the reasons why President Bush decided to invade Iraq. The administration has made so many egregious mistakes that I doubt the "flypaper" strategy was deliberate. But it has worked out that way. It may have been a mistake for the United States to go to war in Iraq. But it's pretty clear now it was a blunder for al-Qaida to have done so.
Now take a look at what he wrote in late August of 2003:

To win the war on terror, we have to kill the hard-core terrorists. It is better to fight them in Iraq, where our soldiers can kill them without reading them their Miranda rights first, than it is to wait for them to strike in Chicago or New York.

We have a "flypaper" strategy. It's working.

Or this from early August, 2003:
The Canadian columnist David Warren has suggested that the United States has a "flypaper strategy" to entice terrorists from the region into Iraq so that they might be killed there. This is not the sort of policy one announces, but it could be true, and it would be shrewd if it were true.
4 years ago he said it would be "shrewd" if it were true. Now he doubts it was deliberate, considering the "many egregious mistakes" of the Bush Administration. When did he change his mind?

But all this is still beside the point a bit. The whole article is about how al-Qaida is losing in Iraq. As if al-Qaida is the only terrorist organization in Iraq. As if al-Qaida is the only problem facing US Troops in Iraq. The implication is that if al-Qaida is losing in Iraq, we must be winning - for al-Qaida is the enemy.

Now remember, Jack's already asserted that al-Qaida was NOT a presence in Iraq before the invasion, so it follows that al-Qaida must then be one of the non-Iraqi groups (i.e. foreign fighters), right?

Right. Now get a gander at this from the Congressional Research Service:
In testimony before Congress in January 2007, the then Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (John Negroponte) said that foreign fighters constitute less than 10% of the insurgents in Iraq.
Kinda puts Jack Kelly's whole argument in a whole new light, don't it?

November 16, 2007

On OffQ This Evening

I caught my friend Johnny Mac on OffQ this evening and was struck by something fellow panelist Heather Heidelbaugh said.

The conversation was bouncing back and forth about, I think, Senator Clinton when McIntire asserted to Heidelbaugh that she hated Bill Clinton because of the Lewinsky scandal.

Heidelbaugh immediately corrected McIntire and stated outright that she hated Bill Clinton because he raped Juanita Broaddrick.

Good lord, do we have to rehash THIS?

Look, it's simple (and as an attorney, Heather Heidelbaugh should understand the legality of all this) but Juanita Broaddrick signed an affidavit on January 2, 1998 that stated:
During the 1992 Presidential campaign there were unfounded rumors and stories circulated that Mr. Clinton had made unwelcome sexual advances toward me in the late seventies. Newspaper and tabloid reporters hounded me and my family, seeking corroboration of these tales. I repeatedly denied the allegations and requested that my family's privacy be respected. These allegations are untrue and I had hoped that they would no longer haunt me, or cause further disruption to my family.

The Starr Report states that about 3 months later on April 8th 1998, she told OIC investigators that that affidavit was false. So which is it? Did she lie when she signed the affidavit or did she lie when she told the OIC investigators (and weren't these guys FBI? Just checking) that she lied?

For those who don't know, an affidavit is a sworn statement of fact. It's done under oath. So if Attorney Heidelbaugh believes that Juanita Broaddrick was raped by Bill Clinton, she also has to believe that Juanita Broaddrick has committed perjury.

But is the story of the rape true? Here's Salon.com in February, 1999 after the story made it on the Wall Street Journal's editorial page:

"This is a story that's been knocked down and discredited so many times, I was shocked to see it in the Journal today," says Jack Nelson, Washington bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times. "Well, not shocked, since it ran on the editorial page. Everyone's taken a slice of it, and after looking at it, everyone's knocked it down. The woman has changed her story about whether it happened. It just wasn't credible. I don't know if NBC will run it, but if they do, they'll do it knowing there are real problems with it."

Significantly, the Wall Street Journal's own news department has declined to run the Broaddrick story in its pages. When asked if Journal reporters had pursued it, the paper's Washington bureau chief, Alan Murray, replied, "I'm not going to comment on how we devote our resources. But you're right to observe this has not appeared in our news pages, except in brief references." The Journal was the first to report that House managers were showing Starr's sealed "Jane Doe" material, Murray says. Later, in its Washington Wire column, the paper revealed that House Judiciary Committee counsel David Schippers had decided not to include the Broaddrick materials in the impeachment trial, since she had given different versions of the story and there was no evidence of obstruction of justice by the Clinton administration in the changed tales.

So the rape allegations weren't a part of the materials in the impeachment trial? And so much of that case was so sturdy, wasn't it? No charges on Whitewater, no charges on Travelgate. Just charges related to the blowjobs in the White House.

Given all the investigatory power of the OIC run by Kenneth Starr and they decided NOT to include the Broaddrick materials in the impeachment trial.

What should that tell you about the rape allegations?

By the same token, did you know that Ronald Reagan was a rapist?

RESTORE ACT Passed In The House

The House passed H.R. 3773 yesterday by a vote of 227-189.

The locals voted along party lines: Altmire and Doyle voted for it, Tim Murphy voted against.

The AP has the story:

The House voted Thursday night to strengthen court oversight of the government's surveillance of terrorist suspects but stopped short of providing legal immunity to telecommunication companies that helped eavesdrop on Americans.

The Democratic bill, approved 227-189, was a rebuke to President Bush, who has promised to veto any legislation that does not shield telecom companies from civil lawsuits. About 40 civil suits have been filed alleging the companies broke wiretapping and privacy lawsuits for monitoring phone calls and e-mails without permission of a secret court created 30 years ago for that purpose.

And:
The House bill would allow unfettered telephone and e-mail surveillance of foreign intelligence targets but would require special authorization if the foreign targets are likely to be in contact with people inside the United States — a provision designed to safeguard Americans' privacy.
And:

The new bill tightens rules on the sharing of identifying information gleaned from electronic surveillance that involves Americans. It provides protections against "reverse targeting" _that is, using unfettered foreign surveillance to secretly monitor Americans. It increases the size of the secret court that oversees intelligence. It also prohibits future presidents from conducting electronic surveillance outside the procedures established by the 30-year-old Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

This so-called exclusivity provision would undermine Bush's claim that Congress' approval of the use of military force after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, was all the approval he needed to bypass FISA and eavesdrop inside the United States without court approval.

Of course the Republicans, looking to kill a bill they can't defeat, introduced a "Motion to Recommit With Instructions" minutes after the bill was introduced for passage.

Remember the "Motion to Recommit"? The Washington Post has a description here.
The motion to recommit allows the minority a chance to amend a bill on the floor or send it back to committee, effectively killing it. In a legislative body in which the party in power controls nearly everything, it is one of the few tools the minority has to effect change.
And the Republican obstructionists are using the tool far more sneakily than their predecessors:

In the 12 years of Republican control that ended in January, Democrats passed 11 motions to recommit. Republicans have racked up the same number in just five months of this Congress.

Democrats say any comparison is unfair because when Republicans controlled Congress, they directed their members to vote against all Democratic motions to recommit.

Now in the majority and mindful of staying there, Democrats have given no such instruction to their members, allowing them to break with the party if they choose. Many freshmen Democrats from GOP-leaning districts find themselves voting with Republicans as a matter of survival -- a reality Republicans have seized upon.

In any event, the Motion to Recommit was denied by a vote of 194-222. We find the same voting pattern among the locals that we found with the Act itself. Altmire and Doyle voted against the Motion, Tim Murphy voted for it.

Keep in mind that this is just one Act in one House of Congress. Something that's led atrios to point out that:
Current Senate Bill has no retroactive immunity. Just need for it to survive amendments, then get a decent bill out of conference, then Bush's inevitable veto, and then Democrats not caving in to Mr 24%.
We'll keep watching.

November 15, 2007

Around the Burghosphere

1) Agent Ska and Sherry also jump into the John McCain/Bitch controversy.

Ska's comments remind me of this quote from Katha Pollitt at The Nation:
The other night I got an irate e-mail from an old acquaintance on the left. He was furious because I'd quipped in an interview that if people didn't stop making sexist comments about Hillary Clinton, I might just have to vote for her.
Sherry supplies the correct definition of "bitch" over at The Pittsburgh Women's Blogging Society.

2) It's gonna be OK! The ADB let's us know that, "There is absolutely no cause for concern."

3) Those Carbolic Smoke Ball folk delve into the intricacies of the professional relationship between Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato and Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.
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More Climate Spin From The Fringe

I found this at Fred Honsberger's favorite on-line news service, CNSNews.com.

A new survey of American members of the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) suggests that there is not firm scientific consensus on global warming, as proponents of swift action to curb carbon emissions have suggested.

DemandDebate.com, a Web site skeptical of global warming "alarmism" that advocates more debate on the topic, released the results of its poll on Nov. 8. The group attempted to survey the 345 American scientists affiliated with the IPCC.

Of the 54 scientists who completed the survey, less than half said a 1-degree Celsius increase is "flatly undesirable." Sixty-one percent of the respondents said there is no such thing as an "ideal climate.

Please note the sloppy terminology. DemandDebate.com sent out the survey to "the 345 American scientists affiliated with the IPCC." The IPCC, by the way is the "Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change." It is "Intergovernmental" on account that it's comprised of scientists from more than one country. Of the 345 surveys sent out to American scientists, DemandDebate.com received only 54.

How many scientists were affiliated with IPCC in the first place? The IPCC website says 2,500 scientific expert reviewers, 800 contributing authors, and 450 lead authors were involved in the IPCC 4th assessment. If that number is accurate and consistent with the other reports, there are about 3,750 scientists involved making IPCC reports.

And yet DemandDebate.com is using a self-filtered survey (i.e. it doesn't cover the whole population of scientists affiliated with the IPCC and it's only based on those surveys returned) of about 1.4% of those scientists to "suggest" that there's no firm consensus on climate change.

But look at what CNSNews glosses over. It's the very next paragraph:
While as many as 90 percent of respondents said man-made carbon emissions "are driving or helping to drive global climate change," only 20 percent said human activity is the "principle driver of climate change." Sixty-three percent said human activity is a driver but that "natural variability is also important."
Let's take a closer look at this "data." The first question in this survey was:

Which best describes the reason(s) for climate change?

It then listed the 4 options (with a "No Opinion" tagged on the end) available. Here they are (with the percentages of those who chose that option):

  • Human activity is the principal driver of climate change. 20%
  • Human activity drives climate change, but natural variability is also important. 63%
  • Natural variability drives climate change, but human activity is also important. 11%
  • Natural variability is the principal driver of climate change. 4%
  • No opinion. 2%
So 94% of those surveyed believe that at the very least "human activity is...important" in describing the reasons for climate change. 83% think that it either "drives" climate change or is the "principle driver." Honestly, I'm not sure what the difference between those two are - but let's just chalk that up to clumsy word usage.

These folks are basing their claim suggesting there isn't a consensus (even though from the first question in this already flawed survey, it's pretty obvious that there is) on two questions at the end; on the impact of a 1 celsius rise in mean global temperature (48% say it's "undesirable" and 39% say it's "desirable for some, undesirable for others") and whether there's an "ideal" global climate (61% says there's no such thing).

Huh. Go figure.

For another view on this, let's take a look at this article from the magazine "Science" which describes itself as "The world's leading journal of original scientific research, global news, and commentary."

Policy-makers and the media, particularly in the United States, frequently assert that climate science is highly uncertain. Some have used this as an argument against adopting strong measures to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. For example, while discussing a major U.S. Environmental Protection Agency report on the risks of climate change, then-EPA administrator Christine Whitman argued, "As [the report] went through review, there was less consensus on the science and conclusions on climate change" (1). Some corporations whose revenues might be adversely affected by controls on carbon dioxide emissions have also alleged major uncertainties in the science (2). Such statements suggest that there might be substantive disagreement in the scientific community about the reality of anthropogenic climate change. This is not the case.

The scientific consensus is clearly expressed in the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). Created in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environmental Programme, IPCC's purpose is to evaluate the state of climate science as a basis for informed policy action, primarily on the basis of peer-reviewed and published scientific literature (3). In its most recent assessment, IPCC states unequivocally that the consensus of scientific opinion is that Earth's climate is being affected by human activities: "Human activities ... are modifying the concentration of atmospheric constituents ... that absorb or scatter radiant energy. ... [M]ost of the observed warming over the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations" [p. 21 in (4)].

IPCC is not alone in its conclusions. In recent years, all major scientific bodies in the United States whose members' expertise bears directly on the matter have issued similar statements. For example, the National Academy of Sciences report, Climate Change Science: An Analysis of Some Key Questions, begins: "Greenhouse gases are accumulating in Earth's atmosphere as a result of human activities, causing surface air temperatures and subsurface ocean temperatures to rise" [p. 1 in (5)]. The report explicitly asks whether the IPCC assessment is a fair summary of professional scientific thinking, and answers yes: "The IPCC's conclusion that most of the observed warming of the last 50 years is likely to have been due to the increase in greenhouse gas concentrations accurately reflects the current thinking of the scientific community on this issue" [p. 3 in (5)].

But to test things, they did a little experiment of sorts:

That hypothesis was tested by analyzing 928 abstracts, published in refereed scientific journals between 1993 and 2003, and listed in the ISI database with the keywords "climate change" (9).

The 928 papers were divided into six categories: explicit endorsement of the consensus position, evaluation of impacts, mitigation proposals, methods, paleoclimate analysis, and rejection of the consensus position. Of all the papers, 75% fell into the first three categories, either explicitly or implicitly accepting the consensus view; 25% dealt with methods or paleoclimate, taking no position on current anthropogenic climate change. Remarkably, none of the papers disagreed with the consensus position.

None.

November 14, 2007

Just another ink-stained wretch


Rick Santorum inks his new column.

It would appear that Lil Ricky Santorum has a new job penning a column over at the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Post-Gazette columnist Tony Norman gives Ricky some tips here.

However, since Ricky says of his new gig, "I promise to be gentle," I promise not to read him.

I want good ol' batshit crazy Ricky back! Well, not back in SW PA, but I guess we don't really have to worry about that, now do we?

DOJ Investigation Into Warrantless Domestic Surveillance Reopens

From the AP:

The Justice Department has reopened a long-dormant inquiry into the government's warrantless wiretapping program, a major policy shift only days into the tenure of new Attorney General Michael Mukasey.

The investigation by the department's Office of Professional Responsibility was shut down after the previous attorney general, Alberto Gonzales, refused to grant security clearances to investigators.

"We recently received the necessary security clearances and are now able to proceed with our investigation," H. Marshall Jarrett, counsel for the OPR, wrote to New York Rep. Maurice Hinchey. A copy of the letter, dated Tuesday, was obtained by The Associated Press.

It's been said that there are no coincidences in politics. I wonder where this story will go.

More Numbers

Funny how, even though I've been a way for a bit, things haven't changed much.

Note a recent poll done by the American Research Group.
A total of 64% of American voters say that President George W. Bush has abused his powers as president. Of the 64%, 14% (9% of all voters) say the abuses are not serious enough to warrant impeachment, 33% (21% of all voters) say the abuses rise to the level of impeachable offenses, but he should not be impeached, and 53% (34% of all voters) say the abuses rise to the level of impeachable offenses and Mr. Bush should be impeached and removed from office.
Here's what ARG did. They polled 1,100 registered voters about a series of statements and asked which statement the respondent agreed with most. Here are the statements:

1. President Bush has not abused his powers as president.

2. President Bush has abused his powers as president, but the abuses are not serious enough to warrant impeachment under the Constitution.

3. President Bush has abused his powers as president which rise to the level of impeachable offenses under the Constitution, but he should not be impeached.

4. President Bush has abused his powers as president which rise to the level of impeachable offenses under the Constitution and he should be impeached and removed from office.

And here's another look at the data. For all voters, 36% agreed with the first statement, 9% agreed with the second, 21% agreed with the third, and 34% agreed with the last. They did a percentage of the percentage thing and it moves things a step or two away from the raw data (and that always gets a little dicey). But there is some interesting data there when broken down by party.

For Democrats the percentages for those same statemnts are; 16, 9, 25, 50. So half of the Democrats polled think that Bush has abused his powers in such a way that it rises to the level of impeachment.

But take a look at the percentages from our friends in the GOP. Those percentages are, 64, 6, 12, 18. So while a little under 2/3 of Republicans don't think the President has abused his powers at all, 18% think he has and should be should be impeached for it. Additionally, 12% of the Republicans polled think that while he has abused his powers enough to be impeached, he shouldn't be impeached.

So...

30% of the Republicans polled think dubya has abused the powers of his office enough to warrant impeachment (though some don't think he should be impeached).

30% - where are these people?

"How do we beat the bitch?"

That question was asked to John McCain by one of his classy supporters. After trying not to laugh -- and failing -- he answered:

"That's an excellent question."
He did add, "I respect Senator Clinton, I respect anyone who gets the nomination of the Democrat Party."

I'm sorry. What party is that?

I've heard of the Democratic Party.

McCain also found it trés amusing when another of his supporters chimed in with, "John, I thought she was talking about my ex wife."

Oh, those funny, funny family values lovin' Repugs!

Stay classy, guys!

Video here:


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No Contest

"Are you pleading to these charges because the Commonwealth's evidence, if believed, would be sufficient to convict you?" the judge asked.

Ms. Carlisle paused.

Her lawyer Patrick Thomassey leaned in and mumbled, "Yes, sir."

"Yes, sir," she said.
I heard about former Pittsburgh City Councilwomen Twanda Carlisle's plea and resignation yesterday but didn't have a chance to blog on it until now.

While I may have been snarky in past posts on the subject, I can't help but feel some sadness for Carlisle, but much more for our City.

We can at least be thankful that Carlisle did not receive an endorsement in the primary vote in May and that there will be a new Councilor (Rev. Ricky Burgess) in District 9 in January (no need for a special election).

The Post-Gazette has an interesting retrospective on Carlisle's career here which speaks to her seemingly ever growing love of the perks of office, but this paragraph stands out for me:
In January 2002, Democratic Committee members from the city's northeastern corner met to pick their nominee to replace Ms. McDonald Roberts. They deadlocked between Ms. Carlisle and Louis "Hop" Kendrick. A coin flip ensued, Ms. Carlisle called heads, and she became the prohibitive favorite to win the seat, which she did.
Says a lot about what's wrong with City Government, no?

Also, I find this passage disturbing:
In a way, she adopted the Robin Hood ethos of Mr. Darkins. From 2002 through 2006, she distributed some $177,892 in city discretionary funds to interests ranging from churches and youth groups to "consultants," including some with criminal histories.

And, that brings us back round to then Council President, now Mayor, Luke Ravenstahl's "Reform Lite" (as called by the P-G).

Pittsburgh City Council had the opportunity to pass real reform on Council spending and end the walking around money (WAMs), but chose not to -- with the exception of Bill Peduto and Doug Shields. They had tried to amend Ravenstahl's bill and provide more accountably and transparency in council spending but were soundly (and at times loudly) defeated.

While Twanda Carlisle surely stole large from taxpayers, with WAMs, we have enshrined petty theft.
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Vote postponed again on Police & Domestic Violence?

It looks like the Pittsburgh City Council vote on the Police Domestic Violence ordinance which was supposed to take place today may be put on hold again.

From what we hear, the Pittsburgh Police Bureau has come up with a revised version of policies that they've written that they want to become the new ordinance however, only they have an electronic version at this point (no google document for you).

I wish I could write my own rules for my job -- don't we all?

We trust Doug Shields and Bill Peduto to stay on top of this (not to give away the store to the cops), but we'd certainly like to see more support from the rest of Council.

You can see more of what may actually come up before Council this week at Peduto's blog here and here.
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November 13, 2007

To My Friends (one last time)

I'm back.

I'd like to thank everyone for their kind words/e-mails regarding my dad's recent passing.

A special blog-thanks to Bram for taking the Jack Kelly watch this week. Great job!

Meet Beth Hafer!

Don't know Beth Hafer?

As the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported in June:

Beth Hafer hopes to follow her well-known mother, Barbara Hafer, onto the region's ballots.

Ms. Hafer, 35, a former school teacher who now works as a vice president in a government consulting firm owned by her mother, said she plans to run for Congress next year against U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy, R-Upper St. Clair.
There's a fundraiser for Hafer being held two weeks from today:

Georgia Berner and Heather Arnet invite you to attend
A Reception for Beth Hafer
Candidate for US Congress

WHEN: Tuesday, November 27, 5-7pm
WHERE: Palate Bistro, 212 6th Street, Downtown Pittsburgh (Across from Heinz Hall)
RSVP: http://www.actblue.com/page/palate 412-992-0809 or simone@haferforcongress.com

Dear Friends,

I am writing today to introduce you to Beth Hafer and to ask you to support her campaign for US Congress. I have had the privilege of getting to know Beth over the past couple of years, and I am thrilled that she is running for Congress. I know that Beth has the experience and the ability to promote values that are important to me – protecting the environment, improving government efficiency, and representing the people of Western, PA.

Through her family, Beth has spent her life immersed in public service. Beth has a teaching degree and she taught for several years before moving on to work as a consultant for Hafer & Associates. At Hafer & Associates, Beth helps government organizations work more efficiently for citizens without raising taxes.

Beth has long been a strong voice for positioning the Pittsburgh metropolitan area at the forefront of the emerging alternative energy industry. Those plans - along with her commitment to improving health care and education - have resonated with voters, as has her call to restore integrity to Congress.

Beth's campaign is off to a running start - she has already received the endorsement of the Communication Workers of America and she had a great showing on the last round of fundraising reports.

I am excited to have a wonderful woman candidate to support in Western, PA, a leader who will work work for us Washington. Beth represents the type of fresh, innovative and courageous leadership that we need in Washington. I am building a network of women to support Beth's campaign and I hope you will join me.

Please join us for a reception on November 27, 2007 in downtown Pittsburgh to meet Beth and support her campaign. Feel free to invite a friend to attend and meet Beth.

If you are unable to attend on the 27th please consider making a contribution to her campaign.

I hope to see you at Palate.

Sincerely,
Georgia Berner
We've blogged about Tim Murphy many a time -- this post being my favorite as it contains a video clip of Murphy snatching corruption evidence out of a KDKA reporter's hands.

Beth Hafer's website: http://www.haferforcongress.com/

(In the interest of full disclosure -- and before anyone from The City Paper can mention it first -- I believe I donated $50 to Hafer earlier this year.)
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Bill and Hill (and Dickie Cougar MellonScaife)

And, speaking of local reporters who blog, Bob Mayor points us to this Newsweek article which claims that Richard Mellon Scaife (Supremo Wingnut, local bad boy and the man behind the vast, right-wing conspiracy -- I will not use quotes like Newsweek did) is getting all BFF with . . .

. . . wait for it . . .

. . . Bill Clinton!

I must admit, however, that it doesn't surprise me all that much on Clinton's part.

(If you haven't been reading Mayo's online pieces on Pennsylvania's open records law, you should. I'm still pissed that I couldn't attend that forum. Hmmm, "BFF" and "pissed." It's a wonder that 2pj managed to eke out even a high school rating.)
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Andrew Stockey covers Pittsburgh Blogfest 12

WTAE's Andrew Stockey (who has his own blog) paid a visit to the latest Pittsburgh Blogfest and you can see his report here.

I'm happy to note that The Other Political Junkie got some airtime.

Sure, I'll take a stab.

Saw this over at Ska's who saw it at 37 Roses:

cash advance

This blog obviously needs Dayvoe back and I need a thesaurus.

Also, I'm apparently not living up to my hips. If I were this blog would have a freakin' Ph.D!

November 11, 2007

DePasquale Fundraiser

We've blogged about Eugene DePasquale before because even though he ran -- and won -- for State Representative in the 95th Legislative District (York County, PA), he's essentially a local and he's a good progressive.

He's having a fundraiser here in Pittsburgh next week (the last one was packed and a real good time). Here's the info:

Please join us for a reception honoring State Representative Eugene DePasquale

When: November 18th. 12:00-4:00 PM
Where: Sassy Marie’s (The old James St. Tavern)
422 Foreland St. In Pittsburgh’s historic North Side

Cash bar and plenty of food!

Contribution: $100, but lesser contributions are welcome! So, if you have a couple of hours to spare on Sunday and ($50, $20, or even $15 bucks) drop on by for some eats and drinks and good conversation.

Please make all checks payable to:
DePasquale for the 95th
PO Box 1822
York, PA 17405

Please RSVP by November 10th ASAP! to: Kevin at 717-979-9864 or ksidella@thewsgroup.com

Veterns Day: Support Our Troops

November 11 is Veterans Day (observed tomorrow). In honor of that, I'm passing along this list of things you can do to support the troops that made its way into my mailbox:

TOP 10 WAYS TO SUPPORT OUR TROOPS
(With apologies to David Letterman)

10. Post a message on the Wounded Heroes Tribute page
Go to http://www.caringbridge.org/ to send a message to someone recovering from injuries.

9. Knit or crochet a helmet liner
Go to www.geocities.com/helmetliner to download the pattern.

8. Donate Phone Cards
Go to operationuplink@vfw.org , to send phone cards to our troops overseas.

7. Send Books
Go to http://www.booksforsoldiers.com/ , to find out how to send books to our troops in Iraq, Afghanistan and in military hospitals.

6. Help Provide Groceries
Go to http://www.comissaries.com/ , to help provide groceries for service families.

5. Donate Your Frequent Flyer Miles
Go to http://www.heromiles.org/ , to help service men and women get back to their families.

4. Support the Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes
Go to http://www.saluteheroes.org/ to help wounded and disabled veterans

3. Visit http://www.anysoldier.com/
Get names and addresses of service men and women and send them care packages.

2. Give To Homes For Our Troops
Call 866-7-troops, to donate to build or remodel accessible homes for severely injured veterans

1. Call Your Congressman
Tell him Dennis Kucinich is right. Impeach Bush and Cheney Now!

November 9, 2007

Pgh Public Works employee hired despite having raped a 12 year-old girl

From kdka.com:
Bernard Pendleton is a truck driver for the City Public Works Department. He's a Democratic Committeeman. He's also a convicted felon.

Court documents show that in 1987 Pendleton approached a 12-year-old girl at a bus stop, asked her if she wanted to go smoke marijuana, then took her to a house and raped her, threatening, "If you tell somebody, you know what is going to happen."

[snip]

Public Works Director Guy Costa is one of several city leaders who approved the hiring of Pendleton because of his Democratic Party affiliation. They never saw his criminal file - didn't know he raped a 12-year-old. But they did know he was a felon. Right on his job application he admits to pleading guilty to statutory rape and illegal gun possession.

"We felt it was good for us to hire him as a truck driver," Costa said.

Griffin: "So it's okay then? On his record he says, 'I have been convicted rape.' That doesn't come across anybody's desk?"

Costa: "Based on the information we had at the time we felt that he was the best candidate."
(Apparently, however, there is no truth to the rumor that Public Works will be handing out Aqua Dots to city children for the holidays.)

May we add that this type of thing is exactly why we need ordinances and not just departmental polices when it comes to hiring and promotions practices in this city?

While we are gratified to learn that women's and DV groups are continuing to meet with police and city officials this week over police policies on officers with domestic violence histories, we cannot allow the police bureau to simply institute their own guidelines.

There must be laws in place when it comes to the safety of women and children in our city.
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Pittsburgh "Zagats" Guide to Nonprofits

Yesterday, Pittsburgh became the first city in the US to pilot a Zagats-type guide to nonprofits:
Through the GreatNonprofits website, individuals can discover what a difference their involvement in a nonprofit can make, and nonprofits will be challenged by the ideas, needs, concerns and suggestions of concerned citizens –- to become even Greater.

The Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership (GPNP) has partnered with Great Nonprofits, an organization based in San Francisco, to make Pittsburgh the first city in the nation to launch the Great Nonprofits website on November 8th, 2007.
The website is www.GreatNonprofits.org

Check it out!

I know we're supposed to let this go, but . . .

On election day Agent Ska published some photographs of Luke Ravenstahl and posse visiting a polling place.

While candidates may be allowed inside a polling place other than their own to act as a properly authorized poll watcher, no one is allowed to electioneer inside a polling place nor are any campaign materials (lit, T-shirts, buttons, etc.) allowed within a polling place.

Ska's pictures were mentioned at the Post-Gazette's Early Returns blog, she was interviewed on KDKA Radio and eventually the whole thing was basically fluffed off as not being significant (despite the fact that Ravenstahl had a few people with him and reportedly his wife had on campaign button).

However, Ska has posted an additional picture.

It shows Yarone Zober, Ravenstahl's chief of staff, inside the polling place with campaign materials in hand and according to Ska, handing out the lit.

Sorry, folks, but this is clearly illegal and Ska quotes the relevant statue here.

I've poll watched many times and while I've seen candidates inside the polling place, EVERYONE knows that you can't have any campaign materials on you and I've never observed either a candidate or anyone with them handing out campaign materialsinside the polls.

There have been many times when I've done double duty of handing out lit outside and frequently going in to check who's voted inside and each and every time before I've gone inside, I've followed the law and hid my campaign T-shirt, taken off buttons/stickers and shoved any campaign lit inside a purse, bag or coat. This is just what you have to do when you poll watch.

Yarone was breaking the law.

PERIOD.

It should be even more distressing when you realize that Zober is a city official and his salary is paid for by the public.
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November 8, 2007

To My Friends

I have some sad news.

My father has passed away.

He was a great guy.



I'll be back next week.

ENDA and the Motion to Recommit

The Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) passed the House of Representatives yesterday by a vote of 235-184. (Go take a look - local Representatives Mike Doyle and Jason Altmire voted for ENDA).

The "transgender provisions" discussed here recently by Representative Barney Frank (D-MA) were to be introduced as an amendment by Representative Tammy Baldwin (D-WI). But before the vote was taken, she withdrew the amendment. She explains why:

In her comments, she said that while she felt the amendment would have "strong support," she also believed it would fail. She ended her comments with this (transcript here):
With a commitment to my colleagues and all Americans committed to equality of opportunity, and ending discrimination, that I will do everything within my power to make this measure whole again.
Of course the Republicans tried to kill the bill. Not on its merits, of course, but with something called a "Motion to Recommit." Here's what happened:

Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) led the recommit effort, saying it was necessary to "ensure this bill does not become the building block that some may want to use to destroy the institution of marriage." His motion sought to send the bill back to committee to add language saying nothing in the bill could be construed as redefining marriage for federal or state purposes beyond the definition of "one man and one woman."

That’s when Frank stepped up to the podium at the front of the House and asked Forbes if he would allow the House to proceed to a vote on the bill if Democrats agreed to accept his language by unanimous consent. Forbes balked.

Frank said Forbes’s refusal to accept the offer was a clear indication that Republicans were simply seeking to send the bill back to committee with the "unmistakable intent to put this off until we are due to adjourn."

My understanding is that the instructions attached to the motion included language saying that it would stay with the Education and Labor for nine days before returning to the House.

But the House is adjourning in five days until next session - effectively killing the bill.

The motion to recommit was put to a vote where it failed 198-222. But take a look at the roll for that vote. It's alphabetical, so the name's easy to spot.

Representative Jason Altmire (D-PA) voted in favor of the motion to recommit.

I gotta ask the question, why he vote for a motion that would kill a bill that he, minutes later, would vote for?

I dropped an e-mail to the Congressman's spokesperson for an explanation. I'll report back whatever I hear.