We are the 99%

February 28, 2009

The President, Today

See it here.

Read it here.

Employee Free Choice Act Community-Labor Townhall TODAY!

[I'm extremely late in posting this and I've been blogging sporadically because sometimes real flesh and blood life intrudes on pixels on the screen life and for the last five weeks I've been going after work each day to visit my mom in the hospital and then going to my bubba's to check in on her and then coming home to give my recently diagnosed diabetic cat an insulin shot. That's when I'm not dealing with my basement backing up twice with shit and, tonight, a plumbing emergency at my bubba's. Other than that, life's a bowl of cherries. Well, it would be if those let's-screw-the-working-class assholes weren't telling lies about the Employee Free Choice Act and that's why this rally is important and I wish I could have posted this earlier.]

Please join Pittsburgh UNITED, SEIU, the Sierra Club, the United Steelworkers (USW) International Union, Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network (PIIN), Communication Workers of America (CWA) Dist 13, ACORN, Amalgamated Transit Union (ATU) Local 85, the Mon Valley Unemployed Committee, AFGE 1916, Just Harvest, AFL-CIO Pride at Work, Pittsburgh
Federation of Teachers, the Coalition of Labor Union Women, the PA League of Young Voters and many more for:

A Community-Labor townhall meeting about
The Employee Free Choice Act: A Blueprint for Rebuilding the American Middle Class

*Why workers having the right to bargain is the only way to make low-wage jobs good jobs with family-sustaining wages; and how a strong labor movement will make a stronger community*

Saturday, February 28
10am-Noon
Calvary United Methodist Church on the Northside
Beech and Allegheny Aves
Pittsburgh, PA 15233

A panel of elected officials including Congressman Mike Doyle and City Councilwoman Tonya Payne with community, faith and labor leaders will answer questions from County Executive Dan Onorato, Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and other elected leaders about why the Employee Free Choice Act is critically important to our community.

Community-Labor Rally for Good Jobs

Contact Pittsburgh UNITED for more information.

To RSVP please click:
http://org2.democracyinaction.org/o/5452/t/3077/event/index.jsp?event_KEY=6204


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Learn the truth about the Employee Free Choice Act:

  • firedoglake

  • "prominent economists call for passage of the employee free choice act"

  • thinkprogress.org

    .
  • February 27, 2009

    From Tony, The Norman

    In today's P-G:

    Perhaps I spoke too soon last week when I described U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's approach to starting a national discussion about race as "ham-fisted." You'll recall that Mr. Holder called us a "nation of cowards" for maintaining social segregation long after the battles for integration had been won.

    While I agreed with his overall point, his didactic tone bothered me. It lacked the subtlety needed to get past the defenses of people in denial. There was also something hypocritical about accusing Americans of ducking honest dialogue about race when his own boss made a point of de-emphasizing it during the presidential campaign. We would prefer that Mr. Holder indict Dick Cheney for crimes against the U.S. Constitution, not point fingers at us.

    That was last week. This week I'm feeling a lot more sympathetic toward the attorney general's position.

    Tony then goes on to illustrate what changed his mind: the mayor in Orange County who had "no idea that there was a racial stereotype about black people having an insatiable lust for watermelons" after e-mailing an image of the White House with a watermelon filled lawn and the drunken kids of Madison County, Arkansas waving the Rebel flag and shouting racial epithets at the black electrical workers who were there to rebuild the area's power grid after a recent ice storm.

    Tony ends with:
    It isn't that Attorney General Holder went too far in his comments last week. He didn't go far enough.

    On The Local Matrimonial Front

    From the City Paper:
    Last night, City Paper received word that Richard Mellon Scaife's divorce has moved to the trial stage -- but that arguments are taking place in a closed courtroom, with no access to the public or press.

    City Paper confirmed that information with Family Court judge Alan Hertzberg's office this morning. And in fact courtroom proceedings are taking place even now.

    We asked for a copy of the order closing the proceedings this morning, but were told that the order, too, was under seal. In other words, we don't know what's going on inside the courtroom -- and we don't even know why we can't find out.

    And for those wondering why this is important:
    It's well-settled that courtroom proceedings should be open to the press and the public, who have a vested stake in how justice is carried out. Especially in this case -- where Pittsburghers have an obvious interest in how Scaife's marital estate is divided. Not only does Scaife own one of the city's two daily newspapers, whose future may be affected by the outcome of the case, but Scaife-controlled foundations contribute millions of dollars a year to national think tanks as well as local nonprofit groups like the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank and the Carnegie Library of McKeesport.
    Considering the prurient peekaboo bought and paid for by DickieCougarMellonScaife (can someone say Arkansas Project?) I am curious as to why he's concerned about his privacy all of a sudden.

    ProsecuteThe Warcrimes

    From the current issue of The Nation:
    Susan Crawford, a Cheney protégée and the senior Bush administration official responsible for the military commissions in Guantánamo, told the Washington Post's Bob Woodward that she refused to approve the charges against Mohammed al-Qahtani because he had been tortured. Torture is, of course, a felony under US law, and if multiple figures are involved, it might well be "conspiracy to torture," a separate crime. As ABC News reported and President Bush later confirmed, the full book of proposed techniques to which Qahtani was subjected had been approved by the National Security Council, headed by Bush. A senior Obama Justice figure remarked after reading the Crawford interview that it would be "impossible to sweep the matter under the carpet." That's a view that seems to be shared by US allies and United Nations officials, who, pointing to Crawford's admissions, are asking why the United States has failed to introduce a criminal inquiry into how torture came to be practiced as a matter of US policy. Articles 4 and 5 of the Convention Against Torture require the United States to prohibit torture under domestic criminal law and to investigate and prosecute incidents in which it is practiced. The failure even to begin criminal investigations has placed the United States in breach of its obligations under the treaty, a point that even torture apologists like University of Chicago Law School professor Eric Posner freely concede.
    For those who need a reminder, here are Articles 4 and 5 of the Convention Against Torture:
    Article 4

    1. Each State Party shall ensure that all acts of torture are offences under its criminal law. The same shall apply to an attempt to commit torture and to an act by any person which constitutes complicity or participation in torture.

    2. Each State Party shall make these offences punishable by appropriate penalties which take into account their grave nature.

    Article 5

    1. Each State Party shall take such measures as may be necessary to establish its jurisdiction over the offences referred to in article 4 in the following cases:

    (a) When the offences are committed in any territory under its jurisdiction or on board a ship or aircraft registered in that State;

    (b) When the alleged offender is a national of that State;

    (c) When the victim is a national of that State if that State considers it appropriate.

    2. Each State Party shall likewise take such measures as may be necessary to establish its jurisdiction over such offences in cases where the alleged offender is present in any territory under its jurisdiction and it does not extradite him pursuant to article 8 to any of the States mentioned in paragraph I of this article.

    3. This Convention does not exclude any criminal jurisdiction exercised in accordance with internal law.

    And for good measure, here's Article 2:
    Article 2

    1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.

    2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat of war, internal political in stability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.

    3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.

    There's no excuse for torture. And "torture" is defined in Article 1:
    Article 1

    1. For the purposes of this Convention, the term "torture" means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
    And what if it isn't exactly torture?? Well, there's Article 16:
    Article 16

    1. Each State Party shall undertake to prevent in any territory under its jurisdiction other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment which do not amount to torture as defined in article I, when such acts are committed by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. In particular, the obligations contained in articles 10, 11, 12 and 13 shall apply with the substitution for references to torture of references to other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

    2. The provisions of this Convention are without prejudice to the provisions of any other international instrument or national law which prohibits cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment or which relates to extradition or expulsion.

    The Conventions Against Torture were signed and ratified by the US Government more than a decade ago. They are US law.

    Prosecute the war crimes. It's the law.

    "My view is also that nobody is above the law..." President Barack Obama
    "Well, when the president does it that means that it is not illegal." President Richard Nixon

    February 26, 2009

    Teh Crazie (Local Colorado Edition)

    Via Thinkprogress, we read about a local Colorado crazie:
    Democrats were outraged Wednesday morning when Republican state Sen. Dave Schultheis said he planned to vote against a bill to require HIV tests for pregnant women because the disease “stems from sexual promiscuity” and he didn’t think the Legislature should “remove the negative consequences that take place from poor behavior and unacceptable behavior.” The Colorado Springs lawmaker then proceeded to cast the lone vote against SB 179, which passed 32-1 and moves on to the House.
    The GOP - the party of ideas!

    Here's Schultheis' homepage, by the way. Enjoy the crazie!

    February 25, 2009

    Good Stuff from Peduto to do TODAY

    From City Councilman Bill Peduto:
    A Stimulating Conversation


    So what does the Stimulus Package mean for Pittsburgh? If you don't know, don't feel bad - you're not alone.

    You may have read Bill's op-ed in the Post Gazette on how a Progressive Stimulus Plan that focuses on economic growth, housing, and infrastructure could bolster older American cities. If you haven't, take the time to read it and then join Councilman Peduto and the members and friends of Pittsburgh's CEOs for Cities for a very special and unique salon on Wednesday at 5:30 PM. The location is wherever you have your computer, the address is www.vivolive.com/pghceos4cities .

    Bill has harnessed a group of federal, state and local leaders to present facts and shine light into the process. He has also recruited Vivo - a Pittsburgh-based tech firm - to showcase their new technology and give you an opportunity to do more than watch - you will have the chance to participate. This time, the revolution will be broadcast!

    Let There Be Light

    On Wednesday, Pittsburgh City Council will vote on a plan to create an aggressive program of replacing all of our street lights with energy-saving LED lights.

    Councilman Peduto introduced his vision in December to make Pittsburgh a global leader in 21st century urban lighting. He has solicited and earned the support of The Clinton Foundation's Climate Initiative and Carnegie Mellon University's Remaking Cities Institute. It is important for Council to take action on Wednesday. Savings from LED lights have been as high as 85% and the life of the light is expected to be ten times that of an incandescent bulb. Pittsburgh can be a world leader in smart, sustainable, and cost-efficient government. Pittsburgh can be a world leader in smart, sustainable, and cost-efficient government. Click here and tell Council you want them to support the LED bill on Wednesday.
    .

    Bring On The Special Prosecutor

    From Talkingpointsmemo:

    Washington has been dominated for weeks by the debate over forming an independent "truth and reconciliation commission" to uncover details about human rights and civil liberties abuses committed during the Bush administration. Prominent Democrats from Sen. Patrick Leahy (VT) to Rep. John Conyers (MI) to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (CA) have indicated their support for the concept.

    But one day after Barack Obama's Pentagon was lambasted by human rights groups for reporting that conditions are humane, a coalition of liberal advocacy groups is done with taking it slow. In a statement released this morning, the 20-plus groups ask Attorney General Eric Holder to directly appoint a special prosecutor to probe former Bush administration officials.

    And from Afterdowningstreet, here's the text:
    We urge Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a non-partisan independent Special Counsel to immediately commence a prosecutorial investigation into the most serious alleged crimes of former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Richard B. Cheney, the attorneys formerly employed by the Department of Justice whose memos sought to justify torture, and other former top officials of the Bush Administration.

    Our laws, and treaties that under Article VI of our Constitution are the supreme law of the land, require the prosecution of crimes that strong evidence suggests these individuals have committed. Both the former president and the former vice president have confessed to authorizing a torture procedure that is illegal under our law and treaty obligations. The former president has confessed to violating the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

    We see no need for these prosecutions to be extraordinarily lengthy or costly, and no need to wait for the recommendations of a panel or “truth” commission when substantial evidence of the crimes is already in the public domain. We believe the most effective investigation can be conducted by a prosecutor, and we believe such an investigation should begin immediately.

    Immediately. This is important (not as important as Presidential lying about a marital infidelity, obviously, but important nonetheless).

    February 24, 2009

    President Obama's Speech

    Discuss amongst yourselves.

    The text is "EMBARGOED UNTIL DELIVERY" but I'll put up a link to the full text as soon as it's over. (In other words, I already read it but don't want to piss anyone off by printing it prematurely).

    UPDATE: HuffPO already has it up so you might as well read along at the google doc I made:

    http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=dfjzkfgh_4g9prgmg2
    .
    (It's good)
    .

    today & tomorrow

    TODAY:


    TOMORROW:

    .

    Teh Crazie


    Keyes is right about one thing: This is insanity.

    February 22, 2009

    Alas, The Truth

    From Non Sequitur.

    The Crazie Reaches The GOP Senate (Kind of)

    It's made its way to Senator Richard Shelby from (Sweet Home) Alabama.

    From Ben Smith at Politico.com we find this from the Cullman Times:
    Another local resident asked Shelby if there was any truth to a rumor that appeared during the presidential campaign concerning Obama’s U.S. citizenship, or lack thereof.

    “Well his father was Kenyan and they said he was born in Hawaii, but I haven’t seen any birth certificate,” Shelby said. “You have to be born in America to be president.” [emphasis added]
    Heroically, the Cullman Times follows that immediately with this:
    According to the Associated Press, state officials in Hawaii checked health department records during the campaign and determined there was no doubt Obama was born in Hawaii.

    The nonpartisan Web site Factcheck.org examined the original document and said it does have a raised seal and the usual evidence of a genuine document. In addition, Factcheck.org reproduced an announcement of Obama's birth, including his parents' address in Honolulu, that was published in the Honolulu Advertiser on Aug. 13, 1961.
    Back to Ben Smith:
    I emailed Shelby's spokesman, Jonathan Graffeo, to ask if Shelby believes there's substance to this rumor, for which no supporting evidence has ever emerge, and which has been debunked repeatedly and in detail.

    UPDATE: Graffeo calls to say that the Cullman Times report is a "distortion" and that Shelby mentioned that he hadn't seen the birth certificate only as a "throwaway line" while listing the qualifications for office and explaining that the issue had been examined at length and put to rest.

    "He doesn't have any doubt" about Obama's citizenship and eligibility, Graffeo said.

    As John Adams once said:
    Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence.
    Please someone tell Alan Keyes!

    Pittsburgh Pundits!

    Let me first say that I had a blast last night at John McIntire's "Pittsburgh Pundits" show.

    We arrived about 10 after seeing the PSO perform Carmina Burana (great performance, by the way) and after getting some drinks we settled down to some comedy.

    Gab Bonesso did the first set. Unfortunately two things got in the way; the crowd didn't seem in the mood and Gab was fighting the flu.

    Once the panel discussion (Heather Heidelbaugh, Cat Specter and me) got under way, though, things were fine.

    That is, until Cat and Heather started discussing Sex ed and Abortion. It was a heated discussion to say the least. I was glad (though a tad frightful) to be sitting between them.

    Ok, that was a bit of an exaggeration, but you get the point.

    There were some craaaaazy questions from the audience. There was an animal rights activist (who was wearing a leather jacket, by the way) who suggested that the chimp-mauling the woman in Connecticut received was "justified." I don't want to take things out of context too much, but I think she thought it was justified in light of the overwhelming amount of animal cruelty that humans commit. Somehow I doubt that the chimp in question (a 200 pound lobster-eating former TV "actor") even knew about all those mistreated circus elephants.

    But I digress.

    Here's me and Cat:


    (Hint: DON'T ask her about the beret.)

    And me and Heather:


    She takes a TON of crap at these shows. I wonder how she does it.

    February 21, 2009

    TONIGHT

    At the Cabaret Theatre TONIGHT!

    BE THERE!

    Details here.

    The week that was (and the circle of life)


    Tis the season -- gearing up for May primaries -- when there's oodles and oodles of local political news.

    First, we have City Councilor Patrick Dowd officially announcing his Democratic primary run for Mayor of Pittsburgh on Thursday.

    Also on Thursday, newly minted now-fellow City Councilor Theresa Smith Kail-Smith Smith got sworn into office. As Bram noted Smith, "thanks God once; thanks Pete Wagner three times." As I will note, her statement that:
    "Throughout the last several months, so many people offered insight about who controlled the votes in District 2 and what I should do to capture the votes," she said in her speech. "In my heart, I believe there is only one person who truly controls the votes, and I thank God for guiding me here."
    does makes me wonder if she is saying that God is in the touch screens (like the devil is the details) or if she just called her deity a person (which would make them not a deity by definition).

    Her statement did remind me of yet another person in the news this week: Charles P. McCullough. Also a councilor -- county, not city -- McCullough got himself arrested as the result of a criminal investigation that started back before another primary...two years ago. When Chucky won that primary he stated:
    "Obviously, it was by the hand of God and also by the voters of the county (that I won)."

    Which makes one wonder if God is so invested in the politics of this city how come there isn't more smiting taking place?

    And, since we're on a metaphysical bent here, we cannot not mention another election this week (Hey, the judges do vote!). Teh bloogers' favorite Top Chef real-life Muppet, Carla, made it to the final three. I like Carla and hope she wins the whole enchilada (or maybe that should be the whole amuse-bouche) even though she sometimes consults her "spirit guides" on what to cook.

    Better a chef with culinary-inclined spirit guides than a councilor with a deity with a thumb on the scale, I always say.

    And, Carla brings us back full circle to Patrick Dowd.

    How, you may ask?

    Well, Top Chef is all about the gourmet cooking and it's on the Bravo channel which used to be très artsy. And, here in the Burgh our Democratic primary elections often have the same dynamic as the R vs. D presidential elections. Namely, a self-proclaimed Real AmericanTM candidate vs. a smarty-pants elitist who can't understand real Americans. Locally, of course, this plays out as the self-proclaimed Real PittsburgherTM vs. the smarty-pants elitist who can't understand real Pittsburghers.

    Think Luke vs. Bill; think getting trashed at a Steelers game and handcuffed vs. being a member of the cupcake class; think anyone Matt H endorses (Real PittsburgherTM) vs. anyone who runs against his endorsed candidate (smarty-pants elitist).

    Lil Mayor Luke Ravenstahl is of course a self-proclaimed Real PittsburgherTM. Dowd undoubtedly is the kind of guy who might actually watch the Bravo channel -- he taught at a private school for chrissakes -- while Ravenstahl is the kind of guy who changes his name to Steelerstahl and whose TIVO is undoubtedly entirely filled up with sports events.

    The one thing that might give Lukey pause is that Dowd beat this dynamic before.

    Dowd was the smarty-pants elitist who beat self-proclaimed Real PittsburgherTM Len Bodack (a man so "real" that his own supporters called foul on having any debates because they said he wouldn't be up to the task).

    Dowd can and is running on "change" (though unfortunately also pocket change) at a time when we're all scared shitless of the status quo. And, I have to agree with Chris Potter that the "Nobody's Boy" bit is a good one (while also having the same reservations about Dowd's style that Potter expresses).

    So there you have the Pittsburgh Circle of Political Life, or maybe it's Six Degrees of Matt H Chad Hermann Mark Rauterkus Carla!
    .

    February 20, 2009

    More On Chuck McCullough

    There's more details from the P-G. In case you didn't know:

    The Allegheny County councilman accused nearly two years ago of improperly making $40,000 in political contributions from an elderly widow's trust fund has been charged with 23 criminal counts, including theft, misapplication of property, criminal conspiracy and making false reports.

    Charles P. McCullough, who was elected in 2007 after some of the allegations had come to light, was arrested yesterday and released on $20,000 straight bond.

    And a word from his attorney:
    "He feels very strongly that he is innocent of the charges, and we will fight them vigorously," [Mr. McCullough's attorney, Clifford] Levine said.
    And let's remember that this is still America where an accused is innocent of the charges until proven guilty. But what are the charges?
    The investigation involves Mr. McCullough's handling of the trust account of Mrs. Jordan, a 91-year-old widow in Upper St. Clair. The investigation began in April 2007, following the publication of a story in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette revealing that Mrs. Jordan had been the single largest donor to four local Republican candidates even though she hadn't voted in seven years.

    Mrs. Jordan, who resides in nursing home, told the Post-Gazette in an interview that she never approved the $40,000 in donations. She attributed the checks to her attorney, Mr. McCullough, who had power of attorney over her financial affairs and represented her in her trust fund.

    And:
    Officials say another $10,000 donation -- this one without Mr. McCullough's name on it -- was made to Catholic Charities at the last minute to ensure the organization met its fund-raising goals. Mr. McCullough's wife was the executive director of the charity at the time.
    Well that doesn't look good either. You might ask yourself how did these two (McCullough and Jordan) meet?
    Court papers accuse Mr. McCullough -- who met Mrs. Jordan in his capacity as solicitor for Upper St. Clair during a dispute with her over installing sidewalks in front of her home -- of inappropriately using a power of attorney dated Feb. 15, 2006. [Emphasis added]
    Whah? Is that even ethical? How much time elapsed between the meeting and his becoming her Power of Attorney? Isn't that a conflict of interest of some sort?

    Then there's this part. Considering that McCullough was the solicitor for Upper St. Clair, what can be made of this?
    Five days after the article ran in the Post-Gazette, Mr. McCullough went to the Upper St. Clair police and filed a complaint against reporter Dennis Roddy, who wrote the initial story.

    Upper St. Clair Police Chief Ronald J. Pardini testified to the grand jury that Mr. McCullough alleged that Mr. Roddy had agitated Mrs. Jordan, forcing her to hide in a bathroom, and requiring her caretaker to run and get help. Mr. McCullough also said that Mr. Roddy failed to identify himself as a reporter or sign in to the nursing home.

    However, a police investigation determined those allegations were not true.

    So despite all the allegations of financial impropriety, McCullough was looking to sick the cops on Dennis Roddy.

    Over at the Trib there's basically the same story though this part is added:
    Jordan has a history of giving conflicting directions and opinions, and several lawyers will testify to that at trial, defense attorney Clifford Levine said. Levine denounced the grand jury process and said an Orphans' Court review and audit of the Jordan estate should have concluded the case.
    When I first looked at the piece on line this morning, I noticed what had to be the worst picture (ever) of McCullough's attorney, Clifford Levine, who I met a few times during the past presidential election. Then I took a closer look.

    That's what it looks like as of 7am this morning. Look's like the Trib's made a boo-boo. I'm sure they'll correct it soon.

    REMINDER

    WHAT:
    NEXT PITTSBURGH PUNDITS POLITICAL COMEDY/PANEL SHOW!
    WHEN:
    SATURDAY FEBRUARY 21ST!
    AT 10:30PM!
    WHERE:
    CABARET THEATER!
    DOWNTOWN!

    WHO:
    John McIntire and Gab Bonesso and Heather Heidelbaugh and Cat Specter and ME!
    'Nuff Said.

    Go to the Macyapper for details.

    Conservative Group Uses Jesus to Criticize Stimulus Bill

    From Politico:
    The American Issues Project, which briefly aired a TV spot in last year's presidential race, will go up on Friday with a TV spot that marks the dollars spent with the passage of time.

    “Suppose you spent $1 million every single day starting from the day Jesus was born — and kept spending through today,” says the announcer as an image of the three wise men flashes on the screen. “A million dollars a day for more than 2,000 years. You would still have spent less money than Congress just did.”
    And we know that Baby Jesus wouldn't like that!


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    The New Silent Majority

    CNBC had Rick Santelli ranting at the Chicago Board of Trade about Real AmericansTM having to pay the price for the losers that the poor, poor bankers were forced to give mortgages to, but as dday points out, he forgets to mention a couple of things:

    Lost from this complaint is the plain fact of predatory lending, that lenders got cash rebates to put people in crappy, high-interest mortgages, that they hid terms of the agreement and denied disclosure, and that all of those hardworking folks are seeing their property values plummet as a result of millions of foreclosed homes glutting the market. To the tune of $6 trillion dollars in home value.
    The traders on the floor roar in agreement with Santelli's rant, but this isn't enough for the CNBC anchor and she asks him to whip up the crowd again (manufacture news much?) and Santelli goes on to call the traitors traders "the silent majority":
    These guys are pretty straightforward, and my guess is, a pretty good statistical cross-section of America, the silent majority.
    Yeah. Right.

    Watch the atrocities:


    .

    February 19, 2009

    CHUCK MCCULLOUGH ARRESTED

    From the P-G:

    Allegheny County Councilman Charles McCullough was arrested and arraigned today on nearly two dozen counts following an investigation last year of his handling of an elderly widow's trust funds.

    A county grand jury today handed up a 52-page presentment that alleges Mr. McCullough, an attorney, and his sister, Kathleen A. McCullough, bilked money from the $14.5 million trust fund of an Upper St. Clair widow, Shirley H. Jordan, 90.

    And PXI has the perp walk.

    The P-G has the criminal complaint.

    More from the P-G:

    This afternoon, the attorney representing Mr. McCullough said that he was "surprised and very disappointed," by the criminal charges.

    Following the publication of the Post-Gazette stories, said Attorney Clifford Levine, Allegheny County Orphan's Court required Mr. McCullough and Northwest Savings Bank, which oversaw Ms. Jordan's trust, to provide a thorough accounting of expenditures. That was done in May 2007, and in August 2008, the court signed off on it, Mr. Levine said.

    "We thought that matter had been put to rest, and we could move past that."

    Notice anything interesting? Republican McCullough's attorney is Clifford Levine. This Clifford Levine:
    Pittsburgh attorney Clifford Levine, who was chairman of the fundraiser [of June, 2007], said 225 people participated in the event, which raised about $150,000 for Obama's campaign.

    "The luncheon was extremely successful," Levine said.

    The event helped expand the campaign's Western Pennsylvania steering committee, Levine said. The committee hopes to have Obama return to Pittsburgh in the fall for "a big community rally," he said.

    THAT must've been an interesting first meeting!

    It should be noted that I interviewed Attorney Levine a number of months ago when I sat in for Lynn Cullen.

    UPDATE: Something interesting from page 8 of the Complaint:
    18 4906A FALSE REPORTS TO LAW ENFORCEMENT AUTH M2 1 COUNT

    The actor knowingly gave false testimony namely ON APRIL 18, 2007 DEFENDANT KNOWINGLY AND FALSELY REPORTED TO UPPER ST. CLAIR POLICE DEPARTMENT THAT DENNIS RODDY HARASSED SHIRLEY H. JORDAN WHEN NO SUCH INCIDENT OF HARASSMENT BY DENNIS RODDY HAD OCCURRED to a law enforcement officer with intent to implicate another in violation of 18 Pa. C. S. § 4906(a) [Caps in original]
    So whether the handling of the Ms Jordan's funds is illegal (and let's remember McCullough is innocent until proven guilty) there's the side issue of the false reports to law enforcement.

    That can't be good. For Chuck.

    Jack Kelly Follow-up

    There are a few more corrections to Jack Kelly's recent column.

    At one point in his myth-laden column, Jack points to all the "pork" projects that the Democrats have slipped into President Obama's stimulus package - including the now debunked story of Speaker Pelosi's mouse.

    Here's another. From Jack:
    Or the $8 billion for a light-rail line between Los Angeles and Las Vegas sought by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.?
    Turns out there's nothing in the bill steering $8 Billion for a rail line from LA to Vegas. Nothing.

    From Mediamatters.org:
    In recent days, Fox News hosts and contributors Steve Doocy, Brian Kilmeade, Newt Gingrich, Trace Gallagher, and Charles Krauthammer have advanced the false claim -- pushed by Republican lawmakers -- that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) included a provision in the economic recovery law directing that $8 billion in funds be spent on a high-speed rail line between Southern California and Las Vegas. In fact, the bill does not direct high-speed rail funds to any specific project, and any funding would be allocated by Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, a former Republican congressman.
    Ah, the Republican noise machine - never lets facts get in the way of a good smear.

    By the way, here's the law's text regarding "Capital Assistance for High Speed Rail Corridors and Intercity Passenger Rail Service." You can find the text of the law here.
    For an additional amount for section 501 of Public Law 110-432 and discretionary grants to States to pay for the cost of projects described in paragraphs (2)(A) and (2)(B) of section 24401 of title 49, United States Code, subsection (b) of section 24105 of such title, $8,000,000,000, to remain available through September 30, 2012: Provided, That the Secretary of Transportation shall give priority to projects that support the development of intercity high speed rail service: Provided further, That within 60 days of the enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall submit to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations a strategic plan that describes how the Secretary will use the funding provided under this heading to improve and deploy high speed passenger rail systems: Provided further, That within 120 days of enactment of this Act, the Secretary shall issue interim guidance to applicants covering grant terms, conditions, and procedures until final regulations are issued: Provided further, That such interim guidance shall provide separate instructions for the high speed rail corridor program, capital assistance for intercity passenger rail service grants, and congestion grants: Provided further, That the Secretary shall waive the requirement that a project conducted using funds provided under this heading be in a State rail plan developed under chapter 227 of title 49, United States Code: Provided further, That the Federal share payable of the costs for which a grant is made under this heading shall be, at the option of the recipient, up to 100 percent: Provided further, That projects conducted using funds provided under this heading must comply with the requirements of subchapter IV of chapter 31 of title 40, United States Code: Provided further, That section 24405 of title 49, United States Code, shall apply to funds provided under this heading: Provided further, That the Administrator of the Federal Railroad Administration may retain up to one-quarter of 1 percent of the funds provided under this heading to fund the award and oversight by the Administrator of grants made under this heading, and funds retained for said purposes shall remain available through September 30, 2014.
    Notice anything missing? Like the words "Las Vegas"? Here's Mediamatters.org's summary:
    The bill states that $8 billion shall remain available for the "Secretary of Transportation" for "projects that support the development of intercity high speed rail service" and that the secretary shall "submit to the House and Senate Committees on Appropriations a strategic plan that describes how the Secretary will use the funding provided under this heading to improve and deploy high speed passenger rail systems." The Joint Explanatory Statement of the Conference Report on H.R. 1 further states of the high-speed rail program: "The conferees have provided the Secretary flexibility in allocating resources between the programs to advance the goal of deploying intercity high speed rail systems in the United States."
    I'll ask once again. Doesn't ANYONE at the P-G fact-check Jack Kelly? I know times are tough on the Boulevard of the Allies and the paper has had to jettison some valued employees but you'd think that a paper would be invested in having even its columnists sticking to, you know, THE TRUTH.

    February 18, 2009

    EVENTS!

    Thursday, February 19, 2009

    Meet Don Cunningham, Exploring a Run for Governor of PA
    Host: Rosalie Glickman
    Date: Thursday, February 19, 2009
    Time: 7:30pm - 9:30pm
    Location: Smallman Street Deli in Squirrel Hill
    Street: 1912 Murray Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA

    Contact Info Email: rosalie.glickman@gmail.com

    Description
    Lehigh County Executive Don Cunningham, a possible Democratic candidate for Governor and a social progressive, has cut his teeth on overcoming tough challenges in politics and life. He’s earned a reputation as a reformer who delivers results. Suggested Donation: $36 General, $18 Student, $10 Pleading Poverty.

    Saturday, February 21, 2009

    McGough4Judge H.Q. Open House (Because "It has to be Hugh!")
    Host:
    Hugh McGough and Sam Hens-Greco
    Date: Saturday, February 21, 2009
    Time: 10:00am - 4:00pm
    Location: McGough for Judge Campaign Headquarters
    Street: 5890 1/2 Ellsworth Ave, Pittsburgh, PA

    Contact Info Phone: 412-427-2486 Email: campaign@mcgough4judge.com

    Description
    The McGough for Judge Committee will host a Campaign Headquarters Open House and our first Door-to-Door Canvass on Saturday February 21st from 10 am to 4 pm at 5890 Ellsworth Avenue in Pittsburgh. Canvassers will be given street lists and nomination petitions. Refreshments and snacks will be served throughout the day. Any questions, please contact campaign@mcgough4judge.com

    Pittsburgh Pundits
    Host:
    The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust
    Date: Saturday, February 21, 2009
    Time: 10:30 PM
    Location: Late Night – Cabaret Theater
    7th Street & Penn Ave, Pittsburgh PA

    Tickets: $5.00 at the door / Free for District Patrons (see details):
    http://www.pgharts.org/events/EventDetails.aspx?id=144643

    RECESSION? REGRESSION? CLINICAL DEPRESSION?
    A comedy/political panel show unlike anything else in Pittsburgh The economy is screwed and so are we. Does anybody know how to fix it? Beats me. But I do know where a great political comedy and panel discussion show is being held to beat this economic horse to death.

    Host: John McIntire
    Featured Comedian: Gab Bonesso
    Pundits include: Conservative firebrand Heather Heidelbaugh, PG Advice Columnist Cat Specter, www.2politicaljunkies.blogspot.com blogger David DeAngelo.

    Sunday, February 22, 2009

    Candidate Meet & Greet/Endorsement Meeting
    Host:
    Steel-City Stonewall Democrats
    Date: Sunday, February 22, 2009
    Time: 2:30pm - 5:30pm
    Location: Inn On The Mexican War Streets
    Street: 604 W. North Ave, Pittsburgh, PA

    Contact Info Phone: 4127285262 Email: lance@steel-city.org

    Description
    At this meeting we will be having our board elections & our membership will vote on who to endorse in the May 17th, 2009 Pennsylvania Primary. This year there will be key races for City Council, Mayor, County Council, and the PA Judiciary. Including a critical election for an open seat on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Between 2:30 & 4 PM we will have an informal mixer.

    Harold & the Gang Benefit Concert! *Back by Popular Demand*
    Host:
    Planned Parenthood of Western Pennsylvania
    Date: Sunday, February 22, 2009
    Time: 7:00pm - 9:00pm
    Location: The Frick Art & Historical Center
    Street: 7227 Reynolds Street, Pittsburgh, PA

    Contact Info: 412.434.8957 x 121, Email development@ppwp.org

    Description
    Join Planned Parenthood of Western PA (PPWP) for the "Harold & the Gang Benefit Concert" on Sunday, February 22, 2009! Listen to what happens when the best area musicians perform their favorite selections with spouses and friends in the intimate theatre at The Frick Art & Historical Center. Music begins at 7:00 pm with a post-concert reception with drinks and appetizers! Proceeds benefit PPWP's gynecological services to uninsured and underinsured individuals in the community. Call 412.434.8957 x 121 for ticket purchase and more details.

    Monday, February 23, 2009

    "First Person" Screening (Documentary about Philly kids struggle to get to college)
    Host: PA League of Young Voters
    Date: Monday, February 23, 2009
    Time: 6:00pm - 9:00pm
    Location: CEA Cultural Center in Homewood
    Street: 7143 Fleury Way, Pittsburgh, PA

    Contact Info Phone: 412-371-7226 Email: roxanne@paleague.com

    Description
    CEA joins us in presenting this documentary screening, the Philadelphia Independent Film Festival winner in 2008. http://www.firstpersondocumentary.org/ FREE! Bring the kids! Light refreshments!

    Wednesday, February 25, 2009

    A Cross City Fundraiser for Natalia Rudiak (Democrat Natalia Rudiak is running for Council in District 4)
    Host:
    Friends of Natalia Rudiak
    Date: Wednesday, February 25, 2009
    Time: 6:00pm - 8:00pm
    Location: The Shadow Lounge
    Street: 5972 Baum Blvd, Pittsburgh, PA

    Contact Info Email: aaron@nataliarudiak.com

    Description
    Please join us at the Shadow Lounge on Wednesday, February 25th to celebrate Natalia's candidacy. She needs your dollars and your time to win. Go Natalia, go! Music by DJ Omar Abdul. Checks payable to: Friends of Natalia Rudiak, PO 59375, Pittsburgh, PA 15210$50/head

    Saturday, February 28, 2009

    Intro to POWER -- Grassroots Organizer Institute training
    Host:
    PA League of Young Voters
    Start Time: Saturday, February 28, 2009 at 10:00pm
    End Time: Sunday, March 1, 2009 at 3:00am
    Location: PA League office
    Street: 6101 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA

    Contact Info Phone: 4123627927 Email: roxanne@paleague.com

    Description
    Attend one of these free trainings that are open to the public and get all the basics to take your community, group, or personal leadership to the next level. Intro to POWER: How to do power analysis, mapping, and research. Free! Register here:
    http://spreadsheets.google.com/viewform?key=p8juE4wmt7NkaDk7HsbEVKQ&hl=en

    Tuesday, March 17, 2009

    Rock the Dome: Pennsylvania Equality Rally
    SAVE THE DATE !
    The topic is LGBT equality. The date is March 17, 2009. Buses will depart Pittsburgh around 7:30 AM and return by 8:00 PM. Stay tuned for more details, but so far you've got a mini-advocacy training, free lunch, rally and a chance to meet with your state elected officials. Take a day off, bring the kids and stay tuned for more details.
    .

    A Few Of Our Friends Across The Aisle

    First the photo:


    Then the descriptions. First from the source:

    That's noted right-wing shill Michelle Malkin posing with who we've dubbed "Swastika Guy," owing to the sign he carried right onto the stage with State Senator Josh Penry, Congressman Mike Coffman, Colorado GOP Chairman Dick Wadhams, State Senator Dave Schultheis, former Congressman Tom Tancredo, and Independence Institute president Jon Caldara, among others. None of whom did anything about it, and in fact one person defended the guy to one of our people saying that the swastika is not a Nazi symbol, but an honored Native American symbol.

    Yeah, I am totally sure that is what Swastika Guy was referring to.

    And then from Media Matters:
    UPDATE: Ohhhh, wait a minute. I get it. The man with the sign isn't professing his affinity for Nazis. He isn't even identifying himself as a Nazi. The swastika in question has a circle around it forming an O and the rest of the sign reads "BAMA". Get it? Obama is a Nazi. That's much better. Sigh.
    Much better.

    What more will it take to end this insanity?

    We've had studies which show that federally funded abstinence-only sex education is rife with false, misleading, or distorted information." We've had studies that prove that federally funded abstinence-only sex education does not keep teenagers from having sex. We've even seen teen mom Bristol Palin admit that while, “Everyone should be abstinent . . . but it’s not realistic at all."

    And, now we have a federally funded abstinence-only sex education in Ohio which promoted the message that you can't rape a "slut."

    Can we end this insanity now?

    Please?
    .

    February 17, 2009

    Thanks, GOP!

    Hey! Are you like me? Do you occasionally have problems? Well, the GOP can solve them all for you. Yep, you heard right. They can solve any problem you have!

    GOP Problem Solver


    (h/t to Spork)
    .

    Saturday!

    A reminder. I'll be on the "panel of Pittsburgh pundits" at John McIntire's next comedy/political panel show on SATURDAY.

    The cost is easy ($5) and the burden is light (again $5).

    I've been to a couple of these and they're pretty fun. Gab comes out and does some comedy. Then John does some comedy and then he has a free flowing discussion with a panel of local pundits.

    That's where I'll be.

    Also on the panel:
    Heather Heidelbaugh
    Cat Specter
    So it should be fun!

    So you know, you should go! En'at.

    February 16, 2009

    Speaker Pelosi's Mouse

    Yesterday, I told you about how Jack Kelly (inadvertantly or not) spread the "Pelosi's mouse" story in his weekly column.

    Here's more about the story (though not, to be fair, about Jack) from the Mercury News. This was published, by the way, on the 12th of February (which would be last Thursday):

    The tale began Wednesday, when Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, sent an e-mail to reporters and political leaders that noted Republican staff members have been asking federal agencies how they would spend the stimulus money.

    "One response? Thirty million dollars for wetland restoration in the San Francisco Bay Area — including work to protect the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse," wrote Steel.

    The Washington Times then wrote a story citing Steel and claiming that $30 million for the mouse project is contained in the bill. The paper suggested the money was put there by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco. Blogger Matt Drudge, whose Web site receives 26 million hits a day, posted a link to that story.

    And by midday Thursday, the tiny salt marsh harvest mouse — and Democratic supporters of the stimulus bill — had been ridiculed by hosts Megyn Kelly and Bill Hemmer on Fox News; Rep. Mike Pence, R-Indiana, on CNN; MSNBC host Joe Scarborough and by bloggers from coast to coast.

    Steel, however, said The Washington Times story is incorrect.

    Really? Tell us more!
    "There is no language in the bill that says this money will go to this project," Steel told the Mercury News. "There are large pots of money in the bill that go to various agencies. One of those agencies said the salt marsh harvest mouse project is something we'd do if you gave us the money."

    Pelosi spokesman Drew Hamill agreed that funding for the mouse is not in the bill, and said she did not lobby for it to be on any list.

    Remember this was published on Thursday February 12. And yet it made it into Jack's column on Sunday.

    Better yet, it's in today's editorial at Ronald Reagan's favorite newspaper, The Washington Times. Take a look:
    Many economists are aghast at the hodgepodge spending and warn of dangers ranging from hyperinflation to stagflation (but it is true that with 100 economists in a room, you may get 200 opinions). The most insulting piece of it was a modest $30 million House Speaker Nancy Pelosi inserted to protect the salt marsh harvest mouse, a tiny rodent indigenous to the San Francisco coast - an obvious earmark in a bill that Mr. Obama said with a straight face would be "earmark free."
    As I said before - ah, the right wing noise machine. Amazing, isn't it?

    February 15, 2009

    Jack Kelly Sunday

    Just when I thought there was evidence for Jack Kelly was getting a little more, you know, rational, he goes straight back to speaking wingnut.

    In this week's column on the stimulus plan, he drinks the conservative kool-aid and spits out more than a few smeary RNC talking points. And wouldn't you know he stumbles (BIG TIME) in the only the second paragraph. Here he goes again:

    There was an awkward moment Tuesday for Sen. Arlen Specter, Pennsylvania's sort-of Republican, when Megyn Kelly of Fox News asked him about a provision of which he evidently was unaware in the stimulus package for which he'd just voted.

    The provision would create a national coordinator for health information technology who would monitor treatments to make sure what your doctor is doing is what the federal government deems cost-effective. It's modeled on the practice in Britain where elderly patients are denied expensive treatments because they are likely to die soon anyway.

    Here's the clip of that discussion. Note that when Megyn Kelly repeatedly justifies her question with "According to Bloomberg...", it's assumed that it's the news division of Bloomberg News.

    It's not. Kelly is quoting Betsy McCaughey's commentary at Bloomberg.com. It's that commentary that's gotten spun into a right wing "fact" that's at the foundation of Jack Kelly's column. Here is what McCaughey writes:

    The bill’s health rules will affect “every individual in the United States” (445, 454, 479). Your medical treatments will be tracked electronically by a federal system. Having electronic medical records at your fingertips, easily transferred to a hospital, is beneficial. It will help avoid duplicate tests and errors.

    But the bill goes further. One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions (442, 446). [emphasis added]
    Hey, look! Jack even quotes McCaughey's phrase: "what the federal government deems...cost-effective" so you know he's on the wingnut bandwagon. Turns out, of course to be completely bunk.

    Via mediamatters.org, the "offensive" section of the bill - SEC 3001(b)(4) - reads:
    (b) Purpose-- The National Coordinator shall perform the duties under subsection (c) in a manner consistent with the development of a nationwide health information technology infrastructure that allows for the electronic use and exchange of information and that--

    (4) provides appropriate information to help guide medical decisions at the time and place of care;
    There. It's the word "guide" that's the culprot. That's what McCaughey spins into her paranoid wingnut nightmare. And what McCaughey spun becomes "socialized medicine" for Fox's Megyn Kelly and from there it makes it into Jack column. And we learn, via Think Progress, that Elizabeth Cohen of CNN has already fact-checked this wingnut "fact." Take a look:
    Now, we asked Betsy McCaughey, because she’s been through this bill page by page, “point us to the language that says that this bill will dictate what your doctor does,” and she showed us language that didn’t actually, specifically say that. It didn’t say that the government will have the right to dictate what your doctor does. But she says it’s vague enough that the government would be able to do that. And, of course, we ran this by the folks who wrote the bill. They said that any accusations that this bill will allow the government to dictate anything to your doctor, they say those accusations are “wildly inaccurate and preposterous."
    I wonder if Jack even bothered to check the extent of the falsehood. My guess is no. But note how far Jack's smear has come. It starts with the bill saying that it would "provide information to help guide" decisions to McCaughey admitting that that language is vague enough for the government dictate to doctors what's "cost-effective" to where Jack is describing a government run health care system that would people who are going to die are denied medical help. Ah, the right-wing echo machine. Ain't it grand?

    Jack, there's a reason Senator Specter didn't seem to know about that provision: IT WASN'T IN THE BILL.

    Later Jack lands knee deep into another GOP falsehood:
    The president has been disingenuous in describing the bill, and its critics.

    "What it does not contain is not a single pet project, not a single earmark," Mr. Obama said in his news conference Monday. But how would you describe the $30 million in the bill to protect the wetlands habitat of, among other things, the salt marsh harvest mouse in House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's district?
    Ah, the mouse story. Greg Sargent over at The Plum Line, a Washington Post Company Publication, takes this one apart pretty easily. (If I were using Megyn Kelly's criteria, I would have just written "According to the Washington Post" and left it at that. But as that's misleading, I won't do it - sorry.). Sargent states first off that there isn't any provision in the bill for the mice in Speaker Pelosi's district. He then explains how the falsehood made it into the mainstream:
    Yesterday a House Republican leadership staffer circulated a background email, which I obtained, charging that GOP staffers had been told by an unnamed Federal agency that if it got money from the stim package, it would spend “thirty million dollars for wetland restoration in the San Francisco Bay Area — including work to protect the Salt Marsh Harvest Mouse.”

    The GOP staffer’s email didn’t say what agency it was. It didn’t say the money was actually in the package — just that an unnamed agency had said they would spend it on that if they got it.

    But conservatives picked up the claim and began stating as fact that the mouse money was in the bill.
    An unverified and unnamed federal agency leaking info to GOP staffers about non-specific language in the bill, and the non-specific word "would" and BAM! the wingnuts have themselves a fact.

    Even though it's not.

    Ah, the right-wing echo machine. Ain't it grand? You just gotta love their epistimological criteria.

    And Jack couldn't resist some more spin:
    "Some of the projects bear the prime characteristics of pork -- tailored to benefit specific interests or to have thinly disguised links to local projects," said the Associated Press.
    But here's the section of the AP analysis he quotes:

    OBAMA: "Not a single pet project," he told the news conference. "Not a single earmark."

    THE FACTS: There are no "earmarks," as they are usually defined, inserted by lawmakers in the bill. Still, some of the projects bear the prime characteristics of pork - tailored to benefit specific interests or to have thinly disguised links to local projects.

    For example, the latest version contains $2 billion for a clean-coal power plant with specifications matching one in Mattoon, Ill., $10 million for urban canals, $2 billion for manufacturing advanced batteries for hybrid cars, and $255 million for a polar icebreaker and other "priority procurements" by the Coast Guard.

    But didn't Jack Kelly JUST SAY that Obama was being "disengenous" when asserting "no earmarks"? And doesn't the AP article he quotes say there are NO EARMARKS? Does Jack Kelly really want to have it both ways? Because he can't. Honestly.

    I could go on, but considering these huge blunders in the text, do I really need to?

    February 13, 2009

    ANNOUNCEMENT

    Can you see the part that reads "a Panel of Pittsburgh Pundits"?

    I'll be one of them.

    In The City Paper This Week

    Grumblings from the left:

    It was not the Democratic base, nor the centrists, nor even the center-left, who put Obama where he is today. The progressive movement rose from near death and kept Obama alive in the primary, eventually proving stubborn enough to carry him to victory over the establishment candidate. And then, in the general election, it was the progressives whose energy infected the nation, whose enthusiasm reminded longtime vote-the-ticket Dems that elections were about the future, and whose contributions, tiny as each individual one was, funded the revolution of Change that swept Obama into the Oval Office.

    Now is the time to hold him accountable, because now that he's in office, he will be surrounded by the trappings of power, the machinery of state and the inertia of bureaucracy. If we are to reach him, we must act quickly. Though he has shown us that he's not who we thought he was (for the record, we did know he wasn't the Messiah), he has also, fortunately, shown us the way to keeping him -- and our country -- on the right track.

    The writers then go on to describe the stuff they like (so far) about the Obama administration and the stuff they don't and the stuff they're still on hold about.

    They don't like:
    Obama's fall from progressive grace goes beyond the campaign-season disappointment of his support for the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the warrantless-wiretapping law strongly opposed by liberal activists and civil libertarians.

    Progressives have a variety of objections, largely relating to flip-flops (warrantless wiretapping), climb-downs (withdrawal from Iraq and taxing the ultra-rich) and betrayals (keeping Bushies like Robert Gates anywhere near the halls of power). Many also object to a return of Clintonites, who while certainly Democrats, were hardly progressives in many areas.

    Can't say I disagree with any of this.

    I am waiting day by day (oh, dear Lord) for news of war crimes investigations. For the sake of the integrity of the office, the crimes of the Bush Administration HAVE TO be investigated. If not some President down the road will be able to get away with worse.

    Investigate the war crimes.

    On the other hand, it's still February and there's that whole broken economy to deal with (another thing the GOP screwed up).

    February 12, 2009

    Lincoln's Birthday

    As we all know, Abraham Lincoln as born 200 years ago today. In some states, his birthday is a legal holiday while other states have folded it into "President's Day." In one way or another, Lincoln's Birthday has been celebrated for decades.

    The man who was President of the United States during the Civil War (a war fought on the issue of slavery) was born today and today the current President of the United States is an African-American.

    We've come a long way. And in more ways than you might think. Take a look:


    This is from 1942. That's only 67 years ago. The plot for this major motion picture is as follows. Jim Hardy (played by Bing Crosby) owns an inn in rural Connecticut and he only opens it up a few times a year - on holidays, hence the name "Holiday Inn." In the course of the movie, he's fallen in love with a singer named Linda Mason (played by Marjorie Reynolds). However, Jim's best friend Ted Hanover (played by Fred Astaire) also has his eye on Linda.

    So Jim has to hide Linda from Ted. And in this scene his great idea is to hide her under black face makeup.

    This is Marjorie Reynolds without the black face makeup:

    And here she is in black face:


    Just as important, take a look at the other details of the show. ALL the wait staff are "black." I put the word on quotation marks because it looks to me like the staff is also in black face.

    The musicians, while actually black (again, as far as I can tell), don't seem too thrilled to be accompanying Der Bingle, however. I wonder why.

    Remember, this was only 67 years ago. We should never forget that within the lifetimes of our parents or at least our grandparents that this was considered to be an acceptable form of main stream entertainment.

    Happy Lincoln's Birthday everybody!

    February 11, 2009

    Prosecute War The Crimes

    Last night on Countdown:


    From Turley:
    There's no question that torture occurred here.

    There's no question it was a war crime.

    It is shameful that we are calling for this type of commission.

    We're in violation of our obligations now.

    We were supposed to investigate. It's not up to President Obama. It's not up to Senator Leahy. We're obligated to investigate.

    You can not say that you believe that no one is above the law and block the investigation of the war crimes by your predecessor.
    Prosecute the war crimes. It's the law.

    Caption Contest: Snoop Dog and Mayor Luke Luke Ravenstahl

    Via Bob Mayo:


    These are already taken:
  • Stop hangin' with thugs, Snoop!

  • I vomited a little in my mouth when I saw this.

  • Pictured: A silly nick-named, irresponsible, juvenile, joy-riding, handcuffed by police, ethically challenged, stranger from the truth man-child poster boy and Snoop Dog.
  • Tony Norman weighs in on the photo here.

    And, while Early Returns is "almost speechless" at all things Steelerstahl, am I the only one who caught Lil Mayor Luke on Hardball the Friday before the Super Bowl?

    Lukey got a full three minutes with Chris Mathews and managed not to get in one good word about anything about Pittsburgh other than the Steelers. But he did note that snow falls from the air.

    You can watch it here (for some damn reason I have problems embedding NBC videos).
    .

    February 10, 2009

    Taking Chance

    On the back cover of this week's Nation, there's an ad for an upcoming HBO movie called "Taking Chance."

    From the HBO website:
    In April 2004, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Strobl, USMC, came across the name of 19-year-old Lance Corporal Chance Phelps, a young Marine who had been killed by hostile fire in Al Anbar Province, Iraq. Strobl, a Desert Storm veteran with 17 years of military service, requested that he be assigned for military escort duty to accompany Chance's remains to his family in Dubois, Wyo.

    Witnessing the spontaneous outpouring of support and respect for the fallen Marine - from the groundskeepers he passed along the road to the cargo handlers at the airport - Strobl was moved to capture the experience in his personal journal. His first-person account, which began as an official trip report, gives an insight into the military's policy of providing a uniformed escort for all casualties. The story became an Internet phenomenon when it was widely circulated throughout the military community and eventually reached the mainstream media.

    'Taking Chance' chronicles one of the silent, virtually unseen journeys that takes place every day across the country, bearing witness to the fallen and all those who, literally and figuratively, carry them home. A uniquely non-political film about the war in Iraq, the film pays tribute to all of the men and women who have given their lives in military service as well as their families.
    You can read Lt Col Strobl's original article here.

    And here's some early reporting on the NewsHour.

    And the trailer:



    I read Strobl's article this afternoon. Cried all the way home. Lucky I was on a bus and not driving.

    Operation Chaos Update

    Remember "Operation Chaos"? That's the Rush Limbaugh inspired idea where Republicans across the country (including Pennsylvania) switch their party identities in order to sabotage their state's Democratic primaries.

    An update via the P-G's Editorial Board:

    Muhlenberg College's Institute of Public Opinion recently looked at Pennsylvania Republican voters who changed their registration status to Democrat. The results ought to make party loyalists fearful.

    The swing to the Democrats has been dramatic. In May 2006, Democratic voters outnumbered Republicans by 550,000 statewide. Two and half years later, that number had more than doubled to 1.2 million. Little wonder that Barack Obama won the state handily in November.

    The data can be found here. Oddly enough the P-G's editorial board gets the fact right from the survey. Perhaps they can show the Trib's editorial board how they do that.
    The major factors causing defections were the presidency of George W. Bush (68 percent) and the war in Iraq (54 percent). With Mr. Bush in retirement and the Iraq war winding down, it might seem that the worst is over. But even here the findings invite pessimism. Most of those who switched to Democrat had been Republicans for 20 years or more, and most of the defectors indicated they are not likely to change back in the next five years.
    A few more findings from the survey itself:
    Pennsylvania voters leaving the GOP to become Democrats were more likely to claim that their decision was the result of changes in the party rather than changes in their personal beliefs
    And:
    The survey also asked respondents to state their level of agreement with a number of statements regarding the contemporary Republican Party. Among the statements that most resonated with individuals leaving the GOP were those that dealt with President Bush and the extreme positions of the GOP. Over half (53%) of the individuals surveyed strongly agreed that the Republican Party has become too extreme in it’s positions, with about the same number (52%) strongly agreeing that George Bush’s presidency led them to leave the GOP. [Emphasis added]
    And:
    Just over 1 in 3 (38%) strongly agreed that the Democratic Party’s position on issues like gay marriage and abortion were closer to theirs than the Republican party’s stance on these topics. About 1 in 3 (34%) of GOP refugees in Pennsylvania strongly agreed that the religious right’s influence on the Republican Party led them to leave the party.
    The P-G sums it up:
    These results ought to be depressing not only for Republicans but also anyone who cares about the health of the two-party system.
    One more thing the GOP screwed up.

    February 9, 2009

    Not-Senator Norm Coleman Says 'God Wants Me to Serve'

    From Smart Politics:
    On Friday, Coleman made the media rounds with radio interviews that included conservative nationally syndicated radio talk show host Mike Gallagher.

    [snip]

    When asked about the recount and how it is affecting him personally, Coleman said he starts every day with a prayer and that he knows “God wants me to serve.” Coleman did later temper those rather immodest remarks by adding that he “is not indispensable” and that others can serve as well.
    We here at 2 Political Junkies hope that if there is a God, that Coleman was right about God wanting him to serve:


    They also serve who only stand and wait

    .

    Lite Brite

    Pittsburgh City Council held a meeting today regarding Councilman Bill Peduto’s proposal to convert all 40,000 street lights in Pittsburgh to LEDs.

    According to Peduto:
    “LED lighting has proven to cut energy use by as much as 80%, saving energy and taxpayers millions of dollars. This is one of the greatest ways we can reduce our carbon footprint and make Pittsburgh a worldwide leader.”
    The meeting included representatives from the William J. Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Climate Initiative, Carnegie Mellon University, and national innovators from Philips, Johnson Controls, Leotek, Lightolier, Ceramtec, Appalachian Lighting Systems, Condor Manufacturing, and Beta Lighting.

    More on this meeting can be found at the Post-Gazette.
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    Doug Shields Explains

    As Maria posted earlier today, City Council President Doug Shields today decided not to run for mayor of the City of Pittsburgh. In a statement released today, he said:
    With the encouragement and support of many people, I have seriously considered running for Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh. At this time, the right choice for me, for this Council, and for the people of Pittsburgh is to continue to serve as Council President.
    When asked earlier this evening for some more details, Shields said that the "pieces just weren't in place" for a run by him against a well-funded incumbent.

    He added that "the standing of [City] council is very important to me" and if he were to run it would make his time at Council "very difficult." Especially at this time when there's "a lot on Council's plate."

    This is not to say, though, that he'd not be more seriously inclined if he weren't Council President and so when I asked him whether this part of his statement:
    What the citizens in Pittsburgh most need is a productive common agenda, not a divisive political campaign.
    Was intended as a message to anyone else challenging (or thinking of challenging) Mayor Ravenstahl in the next election and he said no. It was just intended as a summary of what he thinks about his own campaign. His challenge coming as it would from the City Council President would be divisive and would get in the way of the City Council's important work. "Leadership doesn't always lie in the mayor's office," he said.

    When asked if he thought that the Mayor was politically vulnerable, he said began his answer with a caveat; we live in uncertain times and no one should attempt to predict six months down the road in any political campaign. No one knows for sure what will happen.

    On the other hand, financially the city is better off than we were 4 years ago. The national press is playing up Pittsburgh in its coverage - he said, for example, that the NYTimes suggested that a good place to ride out the recession is Pittsburgh. Rampant crime in a lot of places around the city is down and the city has more "recession proof" businesses (i.e. "Eds" and "Meds") than other places.

    My guess is that Shields' point is, comparatively speaking, there's a lot of good news about Pittsburgh. If he were a part of Ravenstahl's campaign, he'd be "bally ho-ing it all day long." It all translates into a more comfortable place for an incumbent to run for elected office. And if that incumbent is well funded, so much the better.

    "The level of satisfaction doesn't demand change," he said.

    Doug Shields Won't Run for Mayor of Pittsburgh

    Council President Releases Statement on Democratic Mayoral Primary

    9 February 2009

    Pittsburgh City Council President Doug Shields today released the following statement:

    “With the encouragement and support of many people, I have seriously considered running for Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh. At this time, the right choice for me, for this Council, and for the people of Pittsburgh is to continue to serve as Council President.

    City Council's positive image and strong record of accomplishment is very gratifying to me. Leadership means being willing to serve the bigger picture over personal ambition. In these difficult economic times, we have serious financial and governance issues to work through. As we face these many challenges, I believe that leading Council is how I can best serve the city.

    What the citizens in Pittsburgh most need is a productive common agenda, not a divisive political campaign. I pledge to continue working in the best interests of the people who elected me.”

    David will be interviewing Shields later this afternoon.
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    Spot On

    SNL takes on the Michael Phelps controversy and totally nails it:



    UPDATE: I can't embed NBC videos, but you can watch it here.
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