Prosecute the torture.

March 31, 2008

Maria's "Blog for Equality Day" Post

The subject of the "equality" of this day is an attempt to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to define marriage as solely between one man and one woman as part of a "Marriage Protection Amendment."

First, let's throw out any straw man arguments: we are talking about the legal institution of marriage. We are not speaking about any particular religion's take on the subject -- they are free to define marriage exactly as they want.

What we are talking about is a legal contract between two adults. A contract that, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office, confers over 1,000 protections and benefits to couples who enter into it. A contract that is currently only available to heterosexual couples. This despite the fact that there are already thousands of families in Pennsylvania headed by gays and that society has determined that encouraging stabile, monogamous relationships is healthy for children in these and all families.

Moreover, this proposed amendment could possibly remove existing legal protections for committed long-term couples and their children and would prohibit civil unions by heterosexual couples.

So, what exactly is being "protected" here?

No one has ever been able to adequately explain how allowing gays to marry weakens hetero marriages.

The only thing that this amendment does is "protect" gays from having the same rights, benefits, privileges and protections as heteros and "protect" children with gay parents from having the same security that children have whose parents are straight.

It "protects" and enshrines inequality and therefore must be protested.

Equality Advocates Pennsylvania asks that you do the following to register your disagreement with this amendment:

  • Click HERE to e-mail your State Senator!

  • Click HERE for more information on setting up a meeting with your Senator!

  • Email Jake at jkaskey@equalitypa.org to help out!

  • It's a good start.
    .

    "Blog For Equality"

    Let me just say that as someone who will be getting married soon (no date set, yet, sorry), I am just so grateful to the Pennsylvania legislature for acting to protect the institution of marriage from those despicable homosexual hordes. I mean if my gay friend Sue - and don't get me wrong, I don't hate teh gays, some of my best friends are gay - but if she were allowed to marry her partner it would disturb my life in many many many frightening ways. Ways I can not now imagine without some horrific soul-crushing shudder.

    What would we tell the children (who, let's face it are the products of the regular natural het'rosexual process) if they were to ask about Heather's two mommies? It's a completely uncomfortable discussion that no right thinking straight person should be forced to have. All we hear about these days are equal rights for teh gays. What about my right not to have to think about them? What about my right not to have my regular het'rosexual lifestyle disturbed by such notions? Why should I waste my beautiful mind on such things?

    Don't get me wrong, I am not opposed to teh gay lifestyle (as unnatural as it obviously is, Leviticus 18:22), but I just don't want to see it. If only those people could cover it up and at least look straight and normal - that would make me much more comfortable in my own life.

    And so in response, I think it's utterly reasonable to limit the constitutional protections of those sad, misguided people. I mean they made their choice not to have a normal regular life, didn't they? Let them live with the consequences! Make them second class citizens! We should all make sure that we're pleasing the Almighty (who, let's face facts here, single handedly created America to be a Christian-Nation) by making sure we do His will by being hateful and intolerant to teh gays whenever we think He'd want us to.

    I just wouldn't be able to sleep at night knowing that some gay person somewhere might actually be getting equal treatment under the law.

    And so, we have to change the law.

    --Dayvoe

    PS if you don't get the joke, you're reading the wrong blog.

    March 30, 2008

    Bush Throws Out The First Pitch

    And goes booed (via thinkprogress.org).

    Worst. President. Ever. And the fans at that ballgame know it.

    Jack Kelly Sunday

    As many of you already know, the OPJ (you guys get that that stands for "Other Political Junkie," right?) and I were at the Post-Gazette on Thursday for this interview. It was great fun. We were in and out in about 20 minutes and once it was over, the ever-hospitable Bill Toland took us through part of the newsroom on our way out.

    At one point as we were talking through the local outpost of the MSM, I motioned to Maria to one desk in particular on the far side of the room. It was to our right, coincidentally. The man sitting at it was facing away from us, but I knew who it was anyway.

    "That's Jack Kelly," I said.

    I'd like to think that while we were walking through the P-G, he was working on this column.

    It's a piece of work, so let's get started. Jack begins:

    Laboring, I suspect, under the erroneous impression that it will hurt him, The New York Times has recycled yet again the "news" that in 2001 Sen. John McCain contemplated switching parties, and that in 2004 Sen. John Kerry asked Sen. McCain to be his running mate.
    Notice the initial framing. The word news is in quotation marks letting us know that Kelly doesn't think it is and his description of two events; Senator McCain's contemplated switching political parties and Senator Kerry asking McCain to be his running mate.

    Jack then shows us his research. There's this article from the New York Times, and this article from The Hill. Let's begin with The Times - where you'll immediately see Kelly's spin.
    What Mr. McCain almost never mentions are two extraordinary moments in his political past that are at odds with the candidate of the present: His discussions in 2001 with Democrats about leaving the Republican Party, and his conversations in 2004 with Senator John Kerry about becoming Mr. Kerry’s running mate on the Democratic presidential ticket.
    Notice anything? To Jack, the story is about the "news" that McCain was contemplating "switching parties" in 2001 when Bumiller actually only writes about is his leaving the Republican party.

    Big difference, there.

    Here's an example. Recently I changed my voter registration from "Independent" to "Democrat" in order to vote in this state's upcoming primary. Once the primary is over, I'll change back. So what will I be doing on April 23? Will I will be leaving the Democratic Party or switching parties to the GOP? See the difference? Jack doesn't.

    The part about "switching" comes from the other article he uses. So the main question should be, rather, about whether McCain contemplated switching or just leaving the party. Not, as Jack Kelly seems to be framing it, whether it happened at all.

    I mean how can he have as a Presidential candidate a Republican so loyal to the party that he contemplated abandoning it a few as seven years ago? He just can't have it. The "news" must be wrong, then.

    Jack tries to shoehorn the story into an untestable Red said/Blue said polarity:
    In the course of beating these dead horses, Ms. Bumiller acknowledged "there are wildly divergent versions of both episodes, depending on whether Democrats or Mr. McCain and his advisers are telling the story." The fact that Mr. McCain didn't switch parties or become Mr. Kerry's running mate suggests the McCain camp's account is closer to what happened.

    Actually, that McCain remained a Republican and Senator John Edwards became Kerry's running mate really isn't any evidence that there weren't discussions about his (at the very least) leaving the party or discussions about his becoming Kerry's running mate.

    Let's outline what happened with information from the stories Jack Kelly's quoting. From The Hill:

    In interviews with The Hill this month, former Sen. Tom Daschle (D-S.D.) and ex-Rep. Tom Downey (D-N.Y.) said there were nearly two months of talks with the maverick lawmaker following an approach by John Weaver, McCain’s chief political strategist.

    Democrats had contacted Jeffords and then-Sen. Lincoln Chafee (R-R.I.) in the early months of 2001 about switching parties, but in McCain’s case, they said, it was McCain’s top strategist who came to them.

    At the end of their March 31, 2001 lunch at a Chinese restaurant in Bethesda, Md., Downey said Weaver asked why Democrats hadn’t asked McCain to switch parties.

    Downey, a well-connected lobbyist, said he was stunned.“You’re really wondering?” Downey said he told Weaver.

    “What do you mean you’re wondering?”“Well, if the right people asked him,” Weaver said, according to Downey, adding that he responded, “The calls will be made. Who do you want?” Weaver this week said he did have lunch with Downey that spring, pointing out that he and Downey “are very good friends.”

    He claims, however, that Downey is grossly mischaracterizing their exchange: “We certainly didn’t discuss in any detail about the senator’s political plans and any discussion about party-switchers, generically, would have been limited to the idle gossip which was all around the city about the [Democrats’] aggressive approach about getting any GOP senator to switch in order to gain the majority. Nothing more or less than that.”

    So Downey made some phone calls and ended up with Senator Tom Daschle:
    Daschle said that throughout April and May of 2001, he and McCain “had meetings and conversations on the floor and in his office, I think in mine as well, about how we would do it, what the conditions would be. We talked about committees and his seniority … [A lot of issues] were on the table.”
    After noting the McCain campaign's recent denial, the article notes:
    Some of the meetings Daschle referred to are detailed in the former senator’s 2003 book.
    If Weaver is right and the discussion was about a Seinfeldian nothing, then why did Downey rush home to involve the then head of the Senate Democrats? Perhaps Downey got it wrong. But if that's true, why didn't the story end there? Why were there discussions between Daschle and McCain (as detailed in Daschle's book two years later)? Is everyone lying by John McCain?

    Later on in the same article, however, we read this:
    McCain consistently shot down the rumors, though Weaver acknowledged this week that the senator did talk to Democrats about leaving the GOP.
    Oh, so he DID talk to the Democrats about leaving the GOP!

    Imagine the hell out of that.

    I'll ask the question outright: How can the Republican party have any faith in a Presidential candidate so loyal that he actually discussed leaving it seven years ago?

    On being Kerry's running mate, according to the Times it was Weaver (again) who approached the Democrats with the idea:

    But less than three years later, Mr. McCain was once again in talks with the Democrats, this time over whether he would be Mr. Kerry’s running mate. In an interview with a blog last year, Mr. Kerry said that the initial idea had come from Mr. McCain’s side, as had happened in 2001.

    Mr. Kerry, reacting to reports in The Hill newspaper last year about Mr. Weaver’s 2001 approach to Mr. Downey, said he saw a pattern. “It doesn’t surprise me completely because his people similarly approached me to engage in a discussion about his potentially being on the ticket as vice president,” Mr. Kerry told Jonathan Singer of MyDD.com, a prominent liberal blog, in remarks that are available in an audio version online and that Mr. Kerry’s staff said last week were accurate. “So his people were active — let’s put it that way.”

    Two former Kerry strategists said last week that Mr. Weaver went to Mr. Kerry’s house in Georgetown a short time after Mr. Kerry won the Democratic nomination in March and asked that Mr. Kerry consider Mr. McCain as his running mate. (Mr. Weaver said in his e-mail message that the idea had come from Mr. Kerry.) Whatever the case, both sides say that Mr. Kerry was so enthusiastic about the notion that he relentlessly pursued Mr. McCain, even to the point of offering him a large part of the president’s national security responsibilities.

    McCain, of course said:
    I am a conservative Republican. So when I was approached, when we had that conversation back in 2004, that’s why I never even considered such a thing.
    However we do have this. Mark Salter, one of Mr. McCain’s closest advisers, is quoted as saying to John Kerry:
    What if something happens to you? Your party’s going to be pretty surprised about the kind of president they’re going to have.
    Far cry from never having had a conversation about being Kerry's running mate, isn't it?

    Jack then goes wild with speculation and spin:
    However, many independents and Democrats who will be unhappy if the candidate they prefer does not win the increasingly bitter fight for the Democratic nomination, do read The New York Times. How better to reassure them that Mr. McCain is a safe alternative if their preferred candidate doesn't win than to suggest that Mr. McCain contemplated becoming a Democrat?
    Really? Jack Kelly thinks that the reason The Times published the article was to reassure independents? In spite of everything said in the articles mentioned, McCain remains a pro-life, free-marketer who has actively endorsed a war that two thirds of the American people feel is not worth it (so?).

    Then there's this:
    President Bush won two elections through base mobilization.
    Uh, no. I don't think anyone can say that Bush won two elections.
    Sen. McCain's credentials on national security policy are unassailable. But if there are no attacks on our homeland and Iraq remains relatively quiet, domestic economic concerns will dominate the fall campaign.
    McCain's security credentials? He's the guy who doesn't know who the major players are in Iraq:

    Senator John McCain’s trip overseas was supposed to highlight his foreign policy acumen, and his supporters hoped that it would showcase him in a series of statesmanlike meetings with world leaders throughout the Middle East and Europe while the Democratic candidates continued to squabble back home.

    But all did not go according to plan on Tuesday in Amman, Jordan, when Mr. McCain, fresh from a visit to Iraq, misidentified some of the main players in the Iraq war.

    Mr. McCain said several times in his visit to Jordan — in a news conference and in a radio interview — that he was concerned that Iran was training Al Qaeda in Iraq. The United States believes that Iran, a Shiite country, has been training and financing Shiite extremists in Iraq, but not Al Qaeda, which is a Sunni insurgent group.

    And this is the guy the Republicans are pinning their hopes on?

    March 29, 2008

    Pittsburgh Anti-War Rally

    Many thanks to Maria for posting the pics (sent to her via my phone) of today's rally.

    As I actually have a real honest-to goodness digital camera, here are some higher quality images.

    The March.

    Pittsburgh's finest carefully observing the proceedings - making sure nothing goes awry.

    The rather large, extremely peaceful crowd begins the walk through Oakland.

    4,000 dead (so far) in Bush's illegal, unecessary, bloody war.

    The students arrive.

    Scenes from a Rally (LIVE!)

    Dayvoe has just sent over a couple of pics from the End the War March & Rally in Oakland:




    You can still make the memorial service:

    End the War March & Rally
    WHAT: End the War - rebuild Our Communities March & Rally
    WHEN: Saturday, March 29, 12:30 PM
    WHERE: Oakland, Pittsburgh PA
    12:30pm Music at the Software Engineering Institute
    1:00pm Rally at the Software Engineering Institute
    1:30pm March through Oakland 5th Ave. to McKee St. to Forbes Ave. to Schenley Dr. to Flagstaff Hill.
    2:30pm Memorial Service Flagstaff Hill
    Click here for more details.

    .

    March 28, 2008

    WEEKEND EVENTS!

    March 29, 2008

    One Hill CBA Coalition Meeting
    WHAT: One Hill CBA Coalition Meeting
    WHEN: Saturday, March 29, 10:00 AM
    WHERE: Hill House, 1835 Center Ave. Pittsburgh, PA

    "What happens in the Hill will affect all of Pittsburgh...One Hill.. One City.. One County. This Saturday morning, join leaders of the One Hill CBA Coalition to learn about their current struggle to win a Community Benefits Agreement with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Learn how we can help them win and how the Hill's victory can help all of our communities win fights for fair development."

    Volunteer for John Paul Jones (PA House 27th District)
    WHAT: Help John Paul Jones win the Democratic primary election for the PA House 27th District
    WHEN: Saturday, March 29, 10:00 AM - 8 PM
    WHERE: West End/Greentree City

    Can you spare some time this weekend, next weekend, or the following weekend helping a really great progressive candidate John Paul Jones win the Democratic primary election for the PA House 27th District? Activities include: phone calling from the comfort of your own home; addressing postcards from John's house in Pittsburgh's West End/Greentree City; helping John as he goes door-to-door in the 27th District. Any time you can spare would be appreciated--an hour or two, or all day. If you can phone from home during the day on weekdays, they can get you a phone list. For details contact: Dan Cindric, 412.922.8554. See John's website at www.johnpaulforus.com

    Save Our Homes Fair

    WHAT: Real Help for People suffering from the Foreclosure Crisis
    WHEN: Saturday, March 29, 11:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
    WHERE: Regional Enterprise Towers, Downtown, 425 6th Avenue, 31st Floor Community Room, (the old Alcoa building) Pittsburgh PA

    "The SAVE OUR HOMES Fair on Saturday March 28th will help families who are in foreclosure, in danger of being in foreclosure, struggling to keep up with mortgage payments, or burdened by adjustable interest rates that only seem to go up. Mortgage brokers will be on hand to REWRITE loans with low fixed rates and affordable payment schedules so families don't lose their homes. ACORN Housing Counselors will be on hand to help every homeowner that walks through the door. For families who hold a mortgage with a company not present, ACORN will help them contact their lender to make bad loans better. The event, sponsored by ACORN, PNC Bank, and Sen. Jim Ferlo will also include informational sessions for first time home buyers on how to avoid bad loans."

    End the War March & Rally
    WHAT: End the War - rebuild Our Communities March & Rally
    WHEN: Saturday, March 29, 12:30 PM
    WHERE: Oakland, Pittsburgh PA

    12:30pm Music at the Software Engineering Institute
    1:00pm Rally at the Software Engineering Institute
    1:30pm March through Oakland 5th Ave. to McKee St. to Forbes Ave. to Schenley Dr. to Flagstaff Hill.
    2:30pm Memorial Service Flagstaff Hill
    Click here for more details.

    Meet Rob McCord
    WHAT: Meet Rob McCord (hosted by Bill Peduto)
    WHEN: Saturday, March 29, 1:00PM to 3:00PM
    WHERE: Ava Lounge, 126 S. Highland Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

    "Supporting Barack? Supporting Hillary? On April 22, there's one progressive Democrat running for statewide office that we can all support! Please join us for an informal meet-and-greet with Rob McCord. Rob is an independent businessman and a lifelong Democratic activist and is chair of the Eastern Technology Council. He will bring his progressive values to the position of State Treasurer where he will be a protector of public interests, create jobs, and protect pensions." RSVP here

    Political Game Night
    WHAT: Political Game Night by the 14th Ward Independent Democratic Club
    WHEN: Saturday, March 29, 7:00PM, Games start at 8:00PM
    WHERE: Schenley Skating Rink on Overlook Drive in Schenley Park, Pittsburgh, PA

    "Test your political savvy with original adaptations of your favorite game shows: Jeopardy! Wheel of Fortune! Who Wants to Be a Millionaire! Be a spectator or a contestant! Every ticket comes with three chances to play. Also enjoy delicious appetizers, drinks, and desserts. As our Master of Ceremonies for the evening: Chris Moore, talk show host for WQED-TV,KDKA radio and PCNC-TV And as game-show host our special guest: Allen Kukovich, Director for Governor Rendell's Southwestern Pennsylvania Office. $15 in advance ($20 at the door). Advance tickets will be held at the door. Are you too young to be President? Tickets just $10 for those under 35 and for students and limited income." For more information: http://www.pgh14widc.org/Welcome.html


    March 30, 2008

    Volunteer for John Paul Jones (PA House 27th District)
    WHAT: Help John Paul Jones win the Democratic primary election
    for the PA House 27th District
    WHEN: Sunday, March 30, 10:00 AM - 8 PM
    WHERE: West End/Greentree City

    Can you spare some time this weekend, next weekend, or the following weekend helping a really great progressive candidate John Paul Jones win the Democratic primary election for the PA House 27th District? Activities include: phone calling from the comfort of your own home; addressing postcards from John's house in Pittsburgh's West End/Greentree City; helping John as he goes door-to-door in the 27th District. Any time you can spare would be appreciated--an hour or two, or all day. If you can phone from home during the day on weekdays, they can get you a phone list. For details contact: Dan Cindric, 412.922.8554. See John's website at www.johnpaulforus.com
    .

    Save the Date!

    On March 31st, many in the Burghosphere will be Blogging for Equality -- specifically, we'll be blogging against attempts to amend the Pennsylvania Constitution to define marriage as between one man and one woman.

    If you want to join in, see Sue's post here.

    .


    The Conversation

    Check out the conversation!

    No, we don't mean this "The Conversation" -- we mean "The Conversation With Bill Toland" which is a new video feature at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette website.

    You can see your 2 favorite political junkies discussing the Democratic presidential primary race here.

    March 27, 2008

    Voter Registration Numbers

    From Boston.com, it looks like Pennsylvania's Democrats have set some sort of voter registration record:
    Democratic Party enrollment surged past the 4 million mark Monday, setting a state record on the last day Pennsylvanians had to register to vote in next month's presidential primary.
    Now we've all read about Rush Limbaugh's "Project Chaos" (where he's cajoled Republicans into registering as Democrats here in PA in order to keep the process going) but the registration surge doesn't seem to be all cross-overs from God's Own Party:
    The figures, which showed modest declines in the ranks of Republicans and independents, reflected intense interest in the race for the Democratic presidential nomination and recruitment efforts by both candidates, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois.
    But what about the numbers? The Democratic Party has swelled by 161,000 new voters while:
    Registration in the GOP declined by about 1 percent, to 3,215,478 statewide.
    Taking out my handy-dandy calculator, if 3.2 million represents the number of Republicans in this state AFTER being reduced by 1%, then that number must then be 99% of what it was. Doing the math, I think it means that we're only talking about 32,000 GOPers switching party affiliations, right?

    Democrats have added 161,000 and Republicans have taken off 32,000. It's a gain of a little under 140,000. On the other hand, if those 32,000 are indeed to be found within the 161,000, then that means that one out of every five new "Democrats" is really a "Project chaos Republican."

    If they're all following the Oxycontin-addict's edicts completely and will be voting for Senator Clinton in the primary, it might make things even more difficult for Senator Obama here.

    On the other hand following, as we must, the law of unintended consequences, it might make things more difficult for other Republicans running in November. Take a look at this is from Public Radio Capital News. The purpose of Project Chaos is to throw the Democratic Presidential primary here in Pennsylvania into chaos - all those "Project Chaos Republicans" will presumably be switching back to the GOP sometime after April 22 - but not the new Democrats. They'll still be around. What might the impact be here for some House races here in PA?

    Muhlenberg College Political Scientist Chris Borick agrees it will be a tough road for Democrats in the 5th District.

    But he adds registration gains could help Democrats running against western Pennsylvania Republican Congressmen Tim Murphy and Phil English.

    "What you saw in 2006 with the Altmire - Hart race is that a Democrat can unseat an incumbent Republican and be successful.”

    Good news for whoever gets the nomination to run against Murphy and good news for Congressman Jason Altmire.

    March 26, 2008

    I guess it wasn't a threat -- it was a promise

    So let's see:

    1) Pittsburgh City Councilor Bruce Kraus said that Lil Mayor Luke Ravenstahl threatened him (that Council's staff salaries would be cut if Council cut the number of take-home cars):
    Councilman Bruce Kraus said the legislation to cut staff salaries mirrors threats made directly to him by Mr. Ravenstahl at a fundraising event last week. The mayor's office has opposed legislation to cut take-home cars, and Mr. Kraus said that was the context of the threat.

    "His exact words to me were, 'We're coming after you,'" Mr. Kraus said. "I said, 'If you feel that best serves the interests of the people of Pittsburgh, to cripple city council, have at it.'"

    Mr. Kraus added that the mayor specifically threatened to cut council staff salaries, and said, "'And there's more where that came from.'"
    2) Councilor Jim Motznik denied that there was a threat:
    Mr. Motznik, who hosted the fundraiser Mr. Kraus attended, said he heard the conversation. "The mayor simply said that Act 47 is a work in progress, and it's a financial road map," Mr. Motznik said. "He didn't threaten him."
    3) Kraus challenged Motznik's recollection of the events:
    "Jim Motznik was nowhere near that conversation," said Mr. Kraus. "That's a bold-faced lie."
    4) Ravenstahl verified that he spoke to Kraus but denied there was a threat:
    "The notion that a threat was made is ridiculous," said Mr. Ravenstahl. "I suggested that if council took the position that they saw Act 47 as an authorizing document, rather than a financial roadmap, that they should look at themselves.

    "It certainly wasn't a threat, and to suggest that it was I think is unfortunate."

    and:

    "If they feel that Act 47 is a binding document, then they, themselves, should live by that. ... Don't throw stones when you live in a glass house, and that's what they've been doing."
    5) Council did vote to approve Councilor Burgess' legislation to reduce take-home cars:
    It calls on the mayor to reduce the number of employees with take-home cars from 59 to 29, a number drawn from the Act 47 recovery plan approved by council and then-mayor Tom Murphy in 2004.
    6) And, then mayoral ally Motznik proposed legislation to cut Council's budget for their staff; and to strip $150,000 from what he termed a Council "slush fund" (assisted by Ravenstahl Finance Director Scott Kunka); and Councilor Dan Deasy proposed "an amendment to disallow mileage reimbursements for elected city officials, which includes the nine council members, the controller, and the mayor, who doesn't need the benefit because he is chauffeured in a city vehicle."

    6) So, Lil Mayor Luke was right: it wasn't a threat. It was a promise. (And, this is one promise where Luke lived up to his word.)

    Others in the Burghospere on this topic:

    - http://burghreport.blogspot.com/2008/03/kraus-ravenstahl-threatened-me.html
    - http://pghcomet.blogspot.com/2008/03/we-knew-it-would-come-to-this.html
    - http://theburghblog.com/2008/03/25/war-what-is-it-good-for
    - http://burghreport.blogspot.com/2008/03/ravenstahl-threatens-kraus-drama-ensues.html
    - http://pistgazette.blogspot.com/2008/03/mayor-sends-hit-man-motznik-to-break.html
    - http://macyapper.blogspot.com/2008/03/branding-asshole.html

    **********************************************
    On a side note:

    During the flame war in Council Chambers yesterday, someone (Burgess? Kraus? Dowd?) mentioned that appointments by the Mayor to authority boards were handed out as rewards to Councilors who played ball with the Administration. I guess that's in perpetuity because lookie, lookie who's still on the board of Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority:

    Len Bodack ( http://www.pgh2o.com/board.htm )

    As an emailer wrote:
    "Given that Len Bodack Jr. is no longer an elected official...and was appointed to the board as such, Bodack should have been stripped of his PWSA appointment when he left council.

    151.10 APPOINTMENT OF CITY COUNCIL MEMBERS TO MUNICIPAL AUTHORITY BOARDS.
    (a) Council members appointed by the Mayor to authority boards pursuant to Chapter 220 shall be deemed to serve ex officio, i.e. by virtue of their office.
    (b) Upon termination of office by any Council member for whatever reason, the appointment to an authority board shall also be deemed terminated and the Council member shall take such steps as may be necessary to relinquish his or her seat on an authority board.
    (Ord. 19-2002, § 1, eff. 6-4-02)

    http://www.municode.com/resources/gateway.asp?pid=13525&sid=38

    What's up with that?"
    .


    Updated Events!

    Updated events listing (including local Obama rallies) here.

    Senator Clinton's Visit To The Trib

    Do you see who Senator Clinton is sitting next to? I'll quote from the appropriate (and you'll understand why the minute you read it) paragraph from the article:
    Clinton made the comments during a 90-minute interview with Trib reporters and editors. Also in attendance was Tribune-Review owner Richard M. Scaife, who sat directly to Clinton's right during the meeting. The Tribune-Review was a frequent critic of former President Bill Clinton's administration. [emphasis added]
    I know, I know. It's an easy joke. Sorry.

    While the writers of the article, Mike Wereschagin, David M. Brown and Salena Zito, are careful to point out that the Trib was a frequent critic of the Clinton Administration, they didn't point out Richard Mellon Scaife's connection to the so-called "Arkansas Project."

    Let's review. The Arkansas Project was, in Joe Conason's words, a "dirty tricks operation" designed to do as much damage to the Clinton Administration as possible. Scaife also paid Christopher Ruddy for his many articles and investigations into the Clintons' supposed shenanigans. The most famous of Ruddy's allegations involved the death of Vince Foster, in which Ruddy (nudge-nudge wink-wink) says Foster didn't commit suicide - it was murder!

    Ruddy is now the editor-in-chief of Newsmax.com, another Scaife funded conservative news source. Small world, huh?

    No wonder why Senator Clinton called the visit, "counter intuitive."

    March 25, 2008

    EVENTS!

    UPDATED! (3/26/08)

    March 25, 2008

    Join Hillary for a "Solutions for the American Economy" Town Hall in Greensburg!
    WHAT: Hillary Clinton "Solutions for the American Economy" Town Hall
    WHEN: Tuesday, March 25, 2008 at 11:30 AM - 2:30
    WHERE: University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg, Chambers Hall Gym,150 Finoli Drive, Greensburg, PA 15601

    "Hillary has spent the past 35 years fighting for American families and she has real solutions to tackle the tough issues we’re facing. Join Hillary in Greensburg to learn more about her lifetime record of results." Host: Pennsylvania For Hillary. More info @
    http://www.hillaryclinton.com/actioncenter/event/view/?id=11226


    Allegheny County Council Meeting on Community Benefits Agreement
    WHAT:
    Allegheny County Council Meeting on Community Benefits Agreement
    WHEN: Tuesday, March 25, 2008, 5:00 PM
    WHERE: Allegheny County Court House, 436 Grant Street, Downtown Pgh in Gold Room, 4th Floor

    Community members, Pittsburgh UNITED and representatives from local organizations including the PA League of Young Voters, ACORN and Sierra Club, will ask County Council on Tuesday, March 25th to pass legislation supporting Community Benefits Agreements. The public will be provided with the opportunity to highlight the importance of community input on economic development projects and present arguments on two proposed pieces of legislation.

    Vigil for 4000th U.S. Soldier Death
    WHAT: Candlelight Vigil for the Human Cost of the Iraq War
    WHEN: Tuesday, March 25th - Time 6:00pm to 7:00pm
    WHERE: East Liberty Presbyterian Church, 116 S. Highland Ave., East Liberty

    Pittsburgh Commemorates the 4,000th US Military Death in Iraq. Joins Nationwide Events Mourning the Human Cost of War and calling for: No More Deaths. More details at http://pittsburghendthewar.org/mamb/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=110&Itemid=209

    Drinking Liberally Pittsburgh
    WHAT:
    Drinking Liberally Pittsburgh
    WHEN: Tuesday, March 25, 2008, 7:00 PM
    WHERE: Buffalo Blues, 216 S Highland Ave (Shadyside)

    Drinking Liberally is a great organization that exists across the nation. A happy hour that is open for anyone that wants to get together and talk politics. Mostly from the liberal point of view. More info @ http://drinkingliberally.org/locations.html#pa


    March 26, 2008

    “The F-Word: Feminism in the age of MySpace, Paris Hilton, Hillary and Facebook.”
    WHAT: “The F-Word: Feminism in the age of MySpace, Paris Hilton, Hillary and Facebook.”
    WHEN: Wednesday, March 26, 11 a.m. to noon
    WHERE: Community College of Allegheny County-Allegheny Campus, Foerster Student
    Services Center Auditorium, 808 Ridge Avenue, North Shore

    In honor of Women's History Month, Community College of Allegheny County-Allegheny Campus will welcome Heather Arnet, executive director of the Women and Girls Foundation (WGF).The free event is sponsored by the CCAC Women’s Center. Arnet will speak about “The F-Word: Feminism in the age of MySpace, Paris Hilton, Hillary and Facebook.” From encouraging women to run for elected office to helping teenage girls “Girlcott” Abercrombie & Fitch, Arnet and WGF are at the forefront of a movement to engage a new generation of women and men to work for social equality and justice. WGF’s mission is to achieve equity for women and girls in Southwestern Pennsylvania.

    Meet & Greet Fundraiser for Beth Hafer Steel-City Stonewall Democrats
    WHAT: Meet & Greet Fundraiser for Beth Hafer hosted by
    WHEN: Wednesday, March 26, 5:30 - 7:30 PM
    WHERE: There Lounge, 931 Liberty Avenue, Downtown Pittsburgh

    The Steel-City Stonewall Democrats host a meet & greet fundraiser for Beth Hafer, candidate in the 18th Congressional District. Suggested Contribution: Guest: $25 Student/Low-Income: $10. Cash bar, light refreshments will be served. Steel-City wants you to meet Beth and discuss her candidacy to unseat a loyal Bush Republican. More info at http://www.steel-city.org/events/bethhafer


    March 28, 2008

    Community Event with Barack Obama - Pittsburgh
    WHAT: Community Event with Barack Obama
    WHEN: Friday, March 28, 2008, Doors Open: 9:00 AM, Program Begins: 11:00 AM
    WHERE: Soldiers and Sailors Military Museum and Memorial, 4141 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213

    The event is free and open to the public. Tickets are required. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Members of the public are invited to pick up their free tickets at: Obama for America Pittsburgh Headquarters, 208 North Highland Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206. Tickets will be available: 12 pm to 9pm on Wednesday March 26th, 9am to 9pm on Thursday March 27th ***For security reasons, do not bring bags. Please limit personal belongings. No signs or banners permitted.***

    Town Hall Meeting with Barack Obama - Greensburg
    WHAT:
    Town Hall Meeting with Barack Obama
    WHEN: Friday, March 28, 2008, Doors Open: 3:30 PM, Program Begins: 5:30 PM
    WHERE: Hempfield Area High School Gymnasium, 4345 Route 136, Greensburg, PA 15601

    The event is free and open to the public. Tickets are required. Seating is limited and available on a first-come, first-served basis. Members of the public are invited to pick up their free tickets at: Obama for America Greensburg Office, 132 S. Penn. Avenue, Greensburg, PA 15670. Tickets will be available: 1pm to 9pm on Wednesday March 26th, 9am to 9pm on Thursday March 27th ***For security reasons, do not bring bags. Please limit personal belongings. No signs or banners permitted.***

    Live Concert Event for Obama
    WHAT: Generation Obama and Western Pennsylvania Young Professionals for Obama will host a live concert fundraising event
    WHEN: Friday, March 28, 2008, 7:00 PM
    WHERE: Privilege Ultralounge in the Strip District,1650 Smallman St., Pittsburgh PA

    Performing live will be Pittsburgh's own, Formula412, winners of the 2008 Pittsburgh Hip Hop Award for best live band. Attendees will include: City Council members Bill Peduto and Patrick Dowd, State Representatives Chelsa Wagner and Jake Wheatley and State Senator Jim Ferlo.


    March 29, 2008

    Meet Rob McCord
    WHAT: Meet Rob McCord (hosted by Bill Peduto)
    WHEN: Saturday, March 29, 1:00PM to 3:00PM
    WHERE: Ava Lounge, 126 S. Highland Ave, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

    "Supporting Barack? Supporting Hillary? On April 22, there's one progressive Democrat running for statewide office that we can all support! Please join us for an informal meet-and-greet with Rob McCord. Rob is an independent businessman and a lifelong Democratic activist and is chair of the Eastern Technology Council. He will bring his progressive values to the position of State Treasurer where he will be a protector of public interests, create jobs, and protect pensions." RSVP here

    Political Game Night
    WHAT: Political Game Night by the 14th Ward Independent Democratic Club
    WHEN: Saturday, March 29, 7:00PM, Games start at 8:00PM
    WHERE: Schenley Skating Rink on Overlook Drive in Schenley Park, Pittsburgh, PA

    "Test your political savvy with original adaptations of your favorite game shows: Jeopardy! Wheel of Fortune! Who Wants to Be a Millionaire! Be a spectator or a contestant! Every ticket comes with three chances to play. Also enjoy delicious appetizers, drinks, and desserts. As our Master of Ceremonies for the evening: Chris Moore, talk show host for WQED-TV,KDKA radio and PCNC-TV And as game-show host our special guest: Allen Kukovich, Director for Governor Rendell's Southwestern Pennsylvania Office. $15 in advance ($20 at the door). Advance tickets will be held at the door. Are you too young to be President? Tickets just $10 for those under 35 and for students and limited income." For more information: http://www.pgh14widc.org/Welcome.html


    April 3, 2008

    "UNCOUNTED: The New Math of American Elections"
    WHAT: Pittsburgh big-screen premiere of UNCOUNTED (A Film by David Earnhardt)
    WHEN: Thursday, April 3, 2008 - 6:30 pm
    WHERE: Pittsburgh Filmakers - Melwood Screening Room, 477 Melwood Ave
    Pittsburgh, PA 15213

    An explosive new documentary that shows how the election fraud that changed the outcome of the 2004 election led to even greater fraud in 2006 – and now looms as an unbridled threat to the outcome of the 2008 election. This controversial feature length film by Emmy award-winning director David Earnhardt examines in factual, logical, and yet startling terms how easy it is to change election outcomes and undermine election integrity across the U.S. Noted computer programmers, statisticians, journalists, and experienced election officials provide the proof. Presented by Vote Allegheny. Suggested donation $10; seniors and students $7. Reception, hors d'oeuvres, and multi-partisan schmoozing at 6:30pm. Discussion by filmmaker David Earnhardt, Marybeth Kuznik, President of VotePA, and others prior to and after the screening of the film. Watch the trailer @ http://www.uncountedthemovie.com/trailer.html


    April 18, 2008

    SEAD 2008 GOTV Rally
    WHAT:
    South End Active Democrats 2008 GOTV Rally
    WHEN: Friday, April 18, 2008, 7:00 PM - 11:00 PM
    WHERE: Resurrection Church Hall, 1100 Creedmore Avenue in Brookline, 15226

    For $7 you get free food, beer/wine/pop, a DJ and a chance to meet the Democratic candidates. People from all over the county attend, not just South Enders.


    April 25, 2008

    Equal Pay Rally
    WHAT:
    Equal Pay Rally
    WHEN: Friday, April 25, 2008, Noon
    WHERE: Market Square, Pittsburgh PA

    Save the date! Brought to you by the Women & Girls' Foundation of SW PA. More details later.
    .

    Uh-Oh.

    From McClatchy:

    A cease-fire critical to the improved security situation in Iraq appeared to unravel Monday when a militia loyal to radical Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada al Sadr began shutting down neighborhoods in west Baghdad and issuing demands of the central government.

    Simultaneously, in the strategic southern port city of Basra, where Sadr's Mahdi militia is in control, the Iraqi government launched a crackdown in the face of warnings by Sadr's followers that they'll fight government forces if any Sadrists are detained. By 1 a.m. Arab satellite news channels reported clashes between the Mahdi Army and police in Basra.

    And:

    Pentagon officials said that military leaders are watching for any signs of backsliding as they consider whether to keep drawing down troops below pre-surge levels.

    President Bush spoke about the death toll, saying, "One day, people will look back at this moment in history and say, 'Thank God there were courageous people willing to serve, because they laid the foundations for peace for generations to come.' "

    Even as he spoke, the situation on the ground was rapidly worsening.

    On Sunday, a barrage of at least 17 rockets hit the heavily fortified Green Zone and surrounding neighborhoods, where both the U.S. and Iraqi government headquarters are housed, according to police. Most of them were launched from the outskirts of Sadr City and Bayaa, both Mahdi Army-controlled neighborhoods.

    Let's all hope the cease-fire is holding.

    March 23, 2008

    4000

    On Easter Sunday, this news hit MSNBC:

    Four U.S. soldiers were killed by a bomb blast in southern Baghdad late Sunday, raising the death toll for American forces since start of the war to 4,000, according to the Pentagon.

    The grim milestone was reached less than a week after the fifth anniversary of the U.S. invasion to topple former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and coincided with a spate of violence across Iraq on Sunday that left at least 61 people dead.

    WWJD?

    Jack Kelly Sunday

    This week, Jack Kelly goes after Senator Hillary Clinton and the War in Iraq. Did you know we're on the verge (apr├Ęs la surge) of winning??

    Neither did I.

    He rests the first half of his argument on a recent poll done by ABC/NHK of the Iraqi people (those that remained in the country - but more on that later) and begins by writing about another "most recent Clinton flip-flop." Here it is:

    In a speech in West Virginia Wednesday, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton described Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. commander in Iraq, as "an extraordinary leader and a wonderful advocate for our military."

    Just seven months ago Mrs. Clinton indirectly called Gen. Petraeus a liar (it would, she said, take a "willing suspension of disbelief" to believe what the general was saying about progress in Iraq since the troop surge began). This most recent Clinton flip-flop illustrates the sea change that's happened in Iraq since then.

    A little context. As reported by Patrick Healy of the New York Times, this is what went on:

    At a town hall meeting just now, Mrs. Clinton laid out her plan to withdraw troops from Iraq, noting she would rely on “the best military advice we can get” to devise a “very thoughtful” approach to start removing troops within 60 days of taking office.

    As she concluded her remarks, she noted that American forces in Iraq were led by “an extraordinary leader and a wonderful advocate of our military.”

    Indeed, Healy called it a "relatively rare shout-out" to Petraeus. The other quotation, where the Senator mentioned a "willing suspension of disbelief" occurred last September 11, the day the Administration chose to have General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker testify before Congress about the surge. Gee, why that date? I wonder.

    In any event, here's the transcript of the exchange. Here's how it begins:

    I want to thank both of you, General Petraeus, Ambassador Crocker, for your long and distinguished service to our nation. Nobody believes that your jobs or the jobs of the thousands of American forces and civilian personnel in Iraq are anything but incredibly difficult.

    But today you are testifying about the current status of our policy in Iraq and the prospects of that policy. It is a policy that you have been ordered to implement by the president. And you have been made the de facto spokesmen for what many of us believe to be a failed policy.

    Despite what I view as your rather extraordinary efforts in your testimony both yesterday and today, I think that the reports that you provide to us really require the willing suspension of disbelief.

    Wait, did she just thank (in that first paragraph) Petraeus and Crocker for the "distinguished service" to the nation? I am surprised J-Kel even bothered with the speech in West Virginia! Way back in September Clinton praised Petraeus in one paragraph and then challenges him two paragraphs later! How is that possible? To praise someone in one context and then challenge them in another. It's inconceivable! WHAT A FLIP-FLOPPER!!

    Let's, though, take a look at the poll Commando Kelly uses to support his thesis. He writes:

    Nearly 4,000 American service members and about 100,000 Iraqis (most of them in the suicide bombings for which al-Qaida has become infamous) have been killed since March 19, 2003. Has it been worth it?

    Iraqis apparently think so. Last week ABC and the BBC released results of a poll conducted in Iraq last month in which 55 percent of Iraqis said their lives were going well, up from 39 percent last August. Forty-nine percent of Iraqis think the U.S. invasion was justified, up from 37 percent in August.

    First, take a look at that first paragraph. Notice any rhetorical sleight of hand at play? He's equating al-Qaeda with al-Qaeda in Iraq. He later says:

    The Bush administration had both short-and long-term strategic goals in Iraq; some publicly stated, some not. All are on the verge of being met.

    In the short term, the president wanted to go on offense against al-Qaida, rather than wait passively for another attack. The most significant fact in the war on terror is there has been no successful attack on our homeland since 9/11. This is chiefly because most of al-Qaida's energies and resources have been directed elsewhere. Iraq has proven to be a graveyard both for al-Qaida's most experienced operators, and for its reputation in the Muslim world.

    First off, let me say (yet again) that there's a difference between "al-Qaeda" and "al-Qaeda in Iraq." I'm not the only one to assert this. I mean even the US State Department says so. Take a look:
    Terrorist activities in the Middle East and North Africa continued to be a primary concern in the global war on terror. Active extremist groups in this region include: al-Qaida, the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hizballah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades (Fatah’s militant wing), the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat (GSPC), Ansar al-Islam and its offshoot Ansar al-Sunna, and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi's organization, Tanzim Qaidat al-Jihad fi Bilad al-Rafidayn, a.k.a. al-Qaida of the Jihad Organization in the Land of Two Rivers (a.k.a. al-Qaida in Iraq). These terrorist groups continued to affiliate themselves with al-Qaida and/or express support for its ideology. [emphasis added.]
    Look at the very last sentence: it says that these groups are affiliated with al-Qaeda or support its ideology. They are, at best, separate but affiliated - i.e. not the same organization. So any discussion of the al-Qaeda that committed the 9/11 attacks (and let's not forget the fact that its leader has yet to be captured by our great and glorious president) has to be separate from whatever organization that calls itself "al-Qaeda in Iraq."

    Something Jack Kelly does not do. He must know that that's the case, but he doesn't want you to know it.

    But take a look at what Congressional Reporting Service had to say about al-Qaeda in Iraq. In that section of the report listing "Major Sunni Factions" (and can someone please tell Senator McCain the difference between Shi'ite and Sunni. Thanks), it says:
    AQ-I was led by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, a Jordanian national, until his death in U.S. airstrike June 7, 2006. Succeeded by Abu Hamza al-Muhajir (Abu Ayyub al-Masri), an Egyptian. Estimated 3,000 in Iraq (about 10-15% of total insurgents) from many nations, including Egypt and Saudi Arabia, but increasingly subordinate to Iraqi Sunni insurgents under the banner of the “Islamic State of Iraq.” See CRS Report RL32217, Iraq and Al Qaeda.
    See that? Al-Qaeda in Iraq is "about 10-15% of the total insurgents" and yet, Jack Kelly (without any references to back him up) says that most of the 100,000 Iraqi dead were caused by the suicide bombings "for which al-Qaeda has become infamous."

    I wonder how that happens. Jack doesn't tell us. He just hopes we'll fill in the blanks for ourselves.

    Now onto that poll.

    Here's ABC's reporting on it. Here's what Jack wrote so you can refresh your memory:
    Last week ABC and the BBC released results of a poll conducted in Iraq last month in which 55 percent of Iraqis said their lives were going well, up from 39 percent last August. Forty-nine percent of Iraqis think the U.S. invasion was justified, up from 37 percent in August.
    And he's using that to support the sentence that "Iraqis think the invasion was worth it."

    Some other findings from the poll data (by way of ABC):
    Challenges remain broad and deep. Beyond their own lives, most Iraqis, 55 percent, still say things are going badly for the country, even if that's down from a record 78 percent in August. Violence remains common, particularly in the cities; local car bombs or suicide attacks, just within the past six months, are reported by 45 percent in Baghdad, 51 percent in Kirkuk and 39 percent in Mosul.
    And:
    Sectarian differences remain vast. While more than six in 10 Shiites and seven in 10 Kurds say their own lives are going well, that drops to a third in the Sunni Arab minority. Eighty-three percent of Sunnis rate national conditions negatively. And while half of Shiites and six in 10 Kurds expect their children's lives to be better than their own, a mere 12 percent of Sunnis share that most basic hope.
    Here's a question: Do you think that will have any impact on future insurgencies?

    Here's an answer to that question:

    Views of the United States, while still broadly negative, have moderated in some respects. Just shy of half, 49 percent, now say it was right for the U.S.-led coalition to have invaded, up by 12 points from August; the previous high was 48 percent in the first ABC News poll in Iraq in February 2004.

    Similarly, the number of Iraqis who call it "acceptable" to attack U.S. forces has declined for the first time in these polls, down to 42 percent after peaking at 57 percent in August. Even with a 15-point drop, however, that's still a lot of Iraqis to endorse such violence. (Just 4 percent, by contrast, call it acceptable to attack Iraqi government forces.)

    Sunni Arabs, dispossessed by the overthrow of Saddam Hussein, are a good example. In August 93 percent of Sunnis called it acceptable to attack U.S. forces. Today, that's down to 62 percent - a dramatic decline, but one that still leaves six in 10 Sunnis on the side of anti-U.S. attacks.

    Here's how Jack ends the column:
    The cost of the war in Iraq has been high, much higher than it ought to have been because of the many blunders made in prosecuting it. But the strategy was sound. And now -- thanks chiefly to Gen. Petraeus -- a historic, transformational victory is nigh.
    It's a fairly typical conservative reaction: the idea was right but the prosecution was wrong.

    There are those who say, of course, that responding to the 9/11 attacks with a pre-emptive attack on a country unconnected that those attacks was wrong (and it still is), the poorly planned occupation was a disaster of epic proportions and so no matter what positive results may be bubbling up out of the mess dubya's dumped us all in, it will never ever be consindered a "win."

    There's too much blood, too much suffering and too many lies and too many lies from the likes of Jack Kelly to put a happy face on it.

    Yea sure Jack, we're on the verge of winning over there. In your dreams, pal.

    March 22, 2008

    Reaction to The Speech

    From CBS:
    Sen. Barack Obama's speech on race this week, in which he discussed his relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright, his controversial longtime minister, has received largely positive reviews, according to a new CBS News poll.

    But the percentage of voters who think Obama would unite the country as president has dropped since late February.

    Sixty-nine percent of voters who have heard or read about Obama’s speech say he did a good job addressing the issue of race relations, and 63 percent of voters following the events say they agree with Obama's views on race relations. Seventy-one percent say he did a good job explaining his relationship with Wright.

    When registered voters were asked if Obama would unite the country, however, 52 percent said yes - down from 67 percent last month.
    The complete poll results.

    One last point:
    Most voters following the events say they will make no difference in their vote. Seventy percent say the events will make no difference in their vote. Among those who said it would, 14 percent said it makes them more likely to vote for Obama while an equal number said it makes them less likely to support him.

    Nearly a quarter of Democrats say the events have made them more likely to back Obama, while a similar number of Republicans say they are now less likely to do so. Three in four independents say the events make no difference, and the remainder are nearly evenly split between those more likely to support him and those less likely to do so.
    So after all that, with the exception of the "unite the country" stuff, it looks like little has changed.

    March 21, 2008

    Senator Obama's New Ad (Now Running in Pennsylvania)

    Call for Speakers on CBA at County Council

    County Council Meeting on Community Benefits Agreement

    Community members, Pittsburgh UNITED and representatives from local organizations including the PA League of Young Voters, ACORN and Sierra Club, will ask County Council on Tuesday, March 25th to pass legislation supporting Community Benefits Agreements.

    The public will be provided with the opportunity to highlight the importance of community input on economic development projects and present arguments on two proposed pieces of legislation.
  • The Community Benefits Bill #3656-08 will take power away from the community being directly involved in the drafting of Community Benefits Agreements (CBAs) with developers on proposed projects.
  • Pittsburgh UNITED recommends the passage of the Impact Analysis Bill #3657-08, which establishes process and criteria for considering the social and economic impacts of proposed major development projects.
  • Impact reports, completed by Allegheny County Department of Economic Development, will allow the public to learn about and make comment on projects and their anticipated effects on the community as well as provide information valuable to the creation of a CBA between the community and developer.

    To sign up to speak:
    Before 5 p.m. Monday, March 24th, contact John Mascio, Chief Clerk at jmascio@county.allegheny.pa.us or 412-350-6495 and provide the following info:
    - Name
    - Address
    - Phone Number
    - Affiliation/Association, if any

    MEETING DETAILS:
    Time: 5:00 PM, Tuesday, March 25th
    Place: Allegheny County Court House, 436 Grant Street, Downtown Pgh in Gold Room, 4th Floor
    Chair: Councilperson Bill Robinson, his committee is hosting hearing
    Format: Each person gets to speak for 3 min. max

    Check out the official notice with this info at http://www.county.allegheny.pa.us/agenda/mar28/280325.pdf



    Richardson Endorses Obama

    From MSNBC:

    New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson, the nation's only Hispanic governor, is endorsing Sen. Barack Obama for president, calling him a "once-in-a- lifetime leader" who can unite the nation and restore America's international leadership.

    Richardson, who dropped out of the Democratic race in January, is to appear with Obama on Friday at a campaign event in Portland, Ore., The Associated Press has learned.

    The governor's endorsement comes as Obama leads among delegates selected at primaries and caucuses but with national public opinion polling showing Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton pulling ahead of him amid controversy over statements by his former pastor.

    Thanks for clarifying that, Mr. Rooney!

    Because your initial statement sure did sound like you were giving the message that it was OK for a Steeler to smack around a woman as long as it was for Jesus.


    (Alternative message here.)
    .

    March 20, 2008

    All the news that fits

    On the fifth anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, ABC's "Investigative Team" broke the truly important story of the day:



    Question: Does the media celebrate Stained Blue Dress Day on its actual anniversary day or is it one of the those always-on-a-Monday holidays?

    (h/t to Shakesville for story & graphic.)
    .

    Dick Cheney Cares About What You Think

    Well, maybe not.

    Here's the transcript:

    RADDATZ: Two-thirds of Americans say it's not worth fighting.

    CHENEY: So?

    RADDATZ: So? You don't care what the American people think?

    CHENEY: No. I think you cannot be blown off course by the fluctuations in the public opinion polls. There has in fact been fundamental change and transformation and improvement for the better. That's a huge accomplishment.

    Think Progress has more:
    This opposition to the war is not a “fluctuation” in public opinion. The American public has steadily turned against the war since the 2003 invasion. According to a new CNN poll, just 36 percent of the American public believes that “the situation in Iraq was worth going to war over — down from 68 percent in March 2003, when the war began.”

    Even though he doesn’t care what the American public wants, Cheney still thinks he is able — and entitled — to speak for the American public. Last month, Cheney declared, “The American people will not support a policy of retreat.” If Cheney were actually listening to the “American people,” he would know that 61 percent actually supports the redeployment of U.S. troops. [all links from the original]
    Dick.

    March 19, 2008

    The Vigil


    I was at the Vigil.

    First off, it was cold - not freezing cold, but cold just the same. The rain, much more than a mist and much less than a drenching downpour, made things seem much colder - while the wind pushed the dark cold through the huddled crowd of three, maybe four, dozen protestors. The wind harsh enough that the few lit candles present had to be hand cradled in order to keep them alight. No one was smiling.

    The crowd seemed so much different than the first candlelight vigil I attended (a few days before the full moon of March, 2003). It seemed beaten down by another year of blood, another year of administration lies, another year of stories of forgotten soldiers struggling with the effects of the Bush-Cheney folly. Another year of no one knowing how to end it.

    In between the recitation of stories about the effects of Bush's war on some real American families, there was little optimism, little hope that what Bush had wrought on the land could easily be fixed.

    Just more of the same - more death, more suffering, more lies to paper it all over.

    What hope there was, seemed as fragile as any one of the flickerings that strugged to stay lit in the cold evening wind of a Pittsburgh early-Spring.

    The Legacy of George W. Bush. 43rd (and worst) President of these United States of America.

    Iraq War Vigils Tonight

    From MoveOn.org:
    New Priorities Vigil

    The war in Iraq has gone on for nearly five years. The unbearable costs at home and abroad keep mounting. It's clear that Americans are ready for a real change in direction.

    On March 19th, tens of thousands of people across the country will gather to observe the fifth anniversary of the war with candlelight vigils. We'll commemorate the sacrifices too many families have made, and the billions of dollars wasted in Iraq that could have been better invested at home..

    Join us at a candlelight vigil on Wednesday, March 19th. Honor the sacrifice. Change our priorities. Bring the troops home.
    Details:

    Wednesday, 19 Mar 2008, 7:00 PM

    New Priorities Vigil
    In front of Sixth Presbyterian Church
    72 registered participant(s) (100 maximum)
    Forbes and Murray

    Click here to see other vigils or to RSVP


    .

    Civil Discourse

    The Pittsburgh City Paper conducted a roundtable (rectangle, really) with two Obama supporters and two Clinton supporters on Sunday. Excerpts are in the paper today (I haven't seen it yet, but Dayvoe has).

    It's an outgrowth of the "The Third Round" series and there will be video available later (tomorrow?).

    The conversation was remarkably civil (unlike on this blog).

    Hosts: City Paper Editor Chris Potter and Jackson/Clark Partners Managing Partner and Ground Zero Action Network (G0) core member Pat Clark.

    For Obama: Valerie McDonald Roberts, Manager of the Department of Real Estate and OffQ panelist, and Jason Tigano, URA Public & Legislative Affairs Manager (and former staffer for Rep. Mike Doyle).

    For Clinton: Barbara Ernsberger, City Democratic Committee Chair and attorney, and moi (Maria Lupinacci).

    UPDATE:
    Online story link here. Video will be available tomorrow.
    .

    Senator McCain's Foreign Policy Expertise

    Yesterday in Jordan. From the Washington Post:

    Speaking to reporters in Amman, the Jordanian capital, McCain said he and two Senate colleagues traveling with him continue to be concerned about Iranian operatives “taking al-Qaeda into Iran, training them and sending them back.”

    Pressed to elaborate, McCain said it was “common knowledge and has been reported in the media that al-Qaeda is going back into Iran and receiving training and are coming back into Iraq from Iran, that’s well known. And it’s unfortunate.” A few moments later, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, standing just behind McCain, stepped forward and whispered in the presidential candidate’s ear. McCain then said: “I’m sorry, the Iranians are training extremists, not al-Qaeda.”

    The mistake threatened to undermine McCain's argument that his decades of foreign policy experience make him the natural choice to lead a country at war with terrorists. In recent days, McCain has repeatedly said his intimate knowledge of foreign policy make him the best equipped to answer a phone ringing in the White House late at night.

    And the New York Times:

    But all did not go according to plan on Tuesday in Amman, Jordan, when Mr. McCain, fresh from a visit to Iraq, misidentified some of the main players in the Iraq war.

    Mr. McCain said several times in his visit to Jordan — in a news conference and in a radio interview — that he was concerned that Iran was training Al Qaeda in Iraq. The United States believes that Iran, a Shiite country, has been training and financing Shiite extremists in Iraq, but not Al Qaeda, which is a Sunni insurgent group.

    His campaign, of course, did its best to cover it all up:
    Brian Rogers, a spokesman for the McCain campaign, responded: “In a press conference today, John McCain misspoke and immediately corrected himself by stating that Iran is in fact supporting radical Islamic extremists in Iraq, not Al Qaeda — as is reflected in the transcript. The reality is that the American people have deep concerns about the Democratic candidates’ judgment and readiness on matters of national security, and that’s why the D.N.C. launched their attack today.”
    Uh, not quite. You see my friends, Senator John McCain did not make that mistake only once - in Jordan.

    He also made the same mistake on Hugh Hewitt's radio program:

    HH: What’s the concern you have about Iran, and about, in particular, Ahmadinejad? Some people want to meet with him. He’s not on your agenda this trip.

    JM: (laughing) The day I meet with the president of Iran will be the day after he announces his country no longer is dedicated to the extinction of the state of Israel, the day after they stop exporting these most lethal explosives into Iraq. Just yesterday, up in the Mosul area, they uncovered a cache of weapons, and a lot of it was these Iranian copper, high…most lethal explosives. As you know, there are al Qaeda operatives that are taken back into Iran, given training as leaders, and they’re moving back into Iraq.

    This is the guy who wants us to know that he's the expert on foreign affairs in the presidential race.

    Not good. Not good at all.

    He's lucky that he made this embarrassing gaffe the day that Senator Obama gave his speech. Had it been otherwise we might be talking about McCain's flubbing another important issue.

    The Speech (In Case You Missed It)

    The Text.

    March 18, 2008

    Five Years Later...

    Tomorrow will be the fifth anniversary of the beginnings of George W. Bush's War in Iraq.

    Tony's got a column on it. He deconstructions the phrase "shock and awe" in new and exciting ways. First with this:
    For Iraqis, it will be one more day filled with infamy. Five years after a White House media consultant came up with the term to describe the obliteration of one of the world's oldest civilizations, "shock and awe" has become the existential shorthand for the daily reality of ordinary Iraqis.
    And then:

    After the initial euphoria by the media and the administration died down, the unsettling truth about our Iraq adventure began to sink in. "Shock and awe" took on new connotations.

    Shock and awe over our superior military might became speechlessness over the tens of thousands of Iraqis killed since the bombs began falling.

    The deterioration of the Iraqi economy and the degradation of the country's infrastructure after years of sanctions aimed at toppling Saddam's regime was another example of shock and awe.

    The insurgency and the violence that fuels the average Iraqi's sense of cultural and political loss is another way of experiencing shock and awe.

    I can hear you now, out there. But everyone at the time believed that Saddam had those WMD that we now know he didn't have.

    Not everyone.

    This is from the first week of October, 2002:
    While President Bush marshals congressional and international support for invading Iraq, a growing number of military officers, intelligence professionals and diplomats in his own government privately have deep misgivings about the administration's double-time march toward war.
    But let's look at some numbers in dubya's bloody war (something Dick Cheney calls a successful endeavor):

    As of this writing, 3,990 American troops have been killed.

    As of this writing, 29,314 have been wounded.

    As of this writing, 145 American troops have died of "self-inflicted wounds."

    As of this writing, somewhere between 82,000 and 89,000 Iraqi deaths have been documented.

    Billions of dollars to pay for something we were told would nearly pay for itself.

    All this in five years.

    NOTE: There'll be a candlelight vigil tomorrow in Squirrel Hill.

    March 17, 2008

    Facts and Fred Honsberger

    My friend Fred Honsberger had Ronald Kessler on his radio show today. Kessler is the guy who wrote the original article that said that Senator Barack Obama was in the church on July 22, 2007 when the Rev Jeremiah Wright said some goofy stuff.

    Here's how NYTimes columnist William Kristol explains it:

    For one thing, it’s becoming clear that Obama has been less than candid in addressing his relationship to his pastor, Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., of Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ. For example, Obama claimed Friday that “the statements that Rev. Wright made that are the cause of this controversy were not statements I personally heard him preach while I sat in the pews of Trinity.”

    It certainly could be the case that Obama personally didn’t hear Wright’s 2003 sermon when he proclaimed: “The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing ‘God Bless America.’ No, no, no, not God bless America, God damn America, that’s in the Bible for killing innocent people. ... God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human.”

    But Ronald Kessler, a journalist who has written about Wright’s ministry, claims that Obama was in fact in the pews at Trinity last July 22. That’s when Wright blamed the “arrogance” of the “United States of White America” for much of the world’s suffering, especially the oppression of blacks. In any case, given the apparent frequency of such statements in Wright’s preaching and their centrality to his worldview, the pretense that over all these years Obama had no idea that Wright was saying such things is hard to sustain.

    Here's Kessler's column at Newsmax.com column.

    Here's where the story gets fun. Fred's show starts at 3pm. At 1:03pm (nearly two hours BEFORE Fred's show) Talking Points Memo posted this:

    In his latest column, Bill Kristol falsely claimed -- based on reporting by Newsmax, of all things -- that Obama had attended Trinity Church last July 22nd, when Wright blamed blamed the “arrogance” of the “United States of White America” for much global suffering.

    The Obama campaign responded with an aggressive fact-check last night, saying that, no, in fact Obama was not at the service.

    In fact they reported that Kristol had added a correction to his own column. This is what it said:
    In this column, I cite a report that Sen. Obama had attended services at Trinity Church on July 22, 2007. The Obama campaign has provided information showing that Senator Obama did not attend Trinity that day. I regret the error.
    This, as I said, was almost exactly two hours BEFORE Fred show was to begin. So even before Fred started talking on the air, William Kristol had acknowledged that the story was wrong.

    Nice going, Fred. In all fairness (and I am nothing, if not fair) Fred and Ron did try to spin things with, of all things, Newsmax's own correction:
    The Obama campaign has told members of the press that Senator Obama was not in church on the day cited, July 22, because he had a speech he gave in Miami at 1:30 PM. Our writer, Jim Davis, says he attended several services at Senator Obama's church during the month of July, including July 22. The church holds services three times every Sunday at 7:30 and 11 a.m. and 6 p.m. Central time. While both the early morning and evening service allowed Sen. Obama to attend the service and still give a speech in Miami, Mr. Davis stands by his story that during one of the services he attended during the month of July, Senator Obama was present and sat through the sermon given by Rev. Wright as described in the story. Mr. Davis said Secret Service were also present in the church during Senator Obama's attendance. Mr. Davis' story was first published on Newsmax on August 9, 2007. Shortly before publication, Mr. Davis contacted the press office of Sen. Obama several times for comment about the Senator's attendance and Rev. Wright's comments during his sermon. The Senator's office declined to comment.
    Note that they don't pin Senator Obama down to a particular service (looks like they can't). And they say that he could still have heard the sermon if he attended the early morning or late evening service. No proof, of course, that he actually attended. Only that he could have. It's all tied up with a nice bow of the reassurance that Jim Davis, who wrote the original piece back in August, "stands by" the story that Obama heard an angry sermon that Davis heard sometime in the month of July, 2007. That's a long long way away from slam dunk proof that he was there on July 22, isn't it?

    You'd think that things couldn't unravel more. But you'd be wrong.

    It turns out that Jim Davis (who posts at freerepublic as Philo1962) can't find the notes he based the story on. Go read his explanation over at freerepublic, if you want a good chuckle.

    And yet things unravel some more. This evening TPM Election Central posted this:

    As I noted below, Bill Kristol had to append a correction to today's column, after the Obama campaign convinced him that his claim that Obama had attended a controversial Jeremiah Wright column was, well, false.

    Kristol had cited, of all things, a piece on Newsmax by Ronald Kessler as the source for the tall tale. Kessler's piece, too, featured an update that acknowledged error -- sort of, anyway.

    But there's been an amusing epilogue to this otherwise dispiriting tale.

    It turns out Kessler has been busy today scrubbing references to this episode of fact-bungling from his page at Wikipedia.

    And the proof of this? Someone named Ronald Kessler:
    I checked in with Kessler himself, and he confirmed that he had done the deed. He said he'd cut out the reference to his own fact-bungling because it also contained a reference to an article criticizing him for his stance on torture -- and that all of this was part of the same "left-wing" assault.
    Fred, Fred, Fred. You've got to do better than this. You can't be putting on such badly sourced material on KDKA's air. It's just too easy for someone like me to bat it down.

    Just too easy.

    Don't worry my friend, tomorrow is another day.

    Clever Dennis Roddy, Very Clever

    An astute reader posted a comment today that I had to (just had to) expand into a full fledged blog posting of it's own.

    I'm ususally a big fan of Dennis Roddy. He's usually spot on - factwise.

    Not today - not really. Take a look at this article. Specifically, this passage:
    A pro-life Casey Democrat talks rapturously of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose husband Bill kept the city's standard-bearer, Gov. Robert Casey Sr., off the platform at two conventions.
    And this one:
    Scranton has for 35 years been the epicenter of Pennsylvania's anti-abortion movement. Its most famous hometown boy was Gov. Robert P. Casey Sr., an ardent liberal who found himself on the outside of his own party because of his ardent pro-life stand. It was the Clinton forces in 1992, and again in 1996, who denied Mr. Casey the right to speak at his own party's national convention where he wanted to deliver a pro-life speech.

    And this:

    "I'm a Catholic and I'm still a Roman Catholic," Mrs. Vancosky said. "I'm older and I have older views. And I was for Clinton, even though he didn't let Casey have the podium. I am definitely a Hillary girl."
    Take a look at he says (and more importantly, what he doesn't say). Our astute reader pointed out that Roddy was repeating the "tired old lie" that Casey, Sr was denied a spot at the Democratic Convention because of his pro-life views.

    Our astute reader, though, is wrong. Take a look again, very closely, at what Roddy wrote. He never gives a reason for Casey being denied a spot at either convention does he?

    The story about the '92 convention has been around for a long long time. I am hoping that Roddy isn't looking to his readers will "fill in the blanks" of what he didn't write with enough bits and pieces of the false story to continue it's lifespan. That way he can say still he never said what everyone thinks he said.

    We even wrote about this "story" almost a year ago. We quoted:
    According to those who actually doled out the 1992 convention speaking slots, Casey was denied a turn for one simple reason: his refusal to endorse the Clinton-Gore ticket. "It's just not factual!" stammers James Carville, apoplectic over Casey's claims. "You'd have to be idiotic to give a speaking role to a person who hadn't even endorsed you."
    There's more. Digby dug up the original New Republic article (it's behind a subscription wall) and typed out this:

    The man best able to explain the decision was the late Ron Brown. He addressed the topic during a roundtable discussion of Clinton campaign veterans (published as Campaign for President: The Managers Look at '92). He explained:

    We decided the convention would be totally geared towards the general election campaign, towards promoting our nominee and that everybody who had the microphone would have endorsed our nominee. That was a rule, everybody understood it, from Jesse Jackson to Jerry Brown.... The press reported incorrectly that Casey was denied access to the microphone because he was not pro-choice. He was denied access to the microphone because he had not endorsed Bill Clinton. I believe that Governor Casey knew that. I had made it clear to everybody. And yet it still got played as if it had to do with some ideological split. It had nothing to do with that.

    And then there's this:
    Besides, Casey repeatedly bashed Clinton during the primaries, calling Clinton's success "very tragic." Less than three months before the '92 convention, he urged, "Convention rules provide for the selection of an alternative candidate. Let's pick a winner." Why would Clinton invite him to speak?
    Sorry Dennis, your tellytubby impression was sublime, but you got this one wrong.