We are the 99%

May 31, 2009

Earlier Today

From KWCH in Wichita, Kansas:
Eyewitness News has confirmed that abortion provider Dr. George Tiller has been shot and killed at his Wichita church.
Snip-
Police have a suspect description. The suspect is described as a white male in his 50's or 60's with grey hair that is balding in the middle. He is about 6'1" and about 220 pounds and was wearing a white shirt and dark pants.

The suspect was last seen in a light blue Ford Taurus, possibly an early 1990's model. It has a K-State vanity plate and a Kansas license plate number 225 BAB.
Not the first time he was shot:
...Dr. Tiller was shot outside his clinic the evening of August 19, 1993. His wounds were not life threatening. Abortion opponent Shelly Shannon was convicted of that shooting and sentenced to prison.
Earlier today, they shot a man at church.

May 30, 2009

Yo. This One's For All The Young Conservatives

Fear not movement conservatives, Stiltz and Serious C are here for you.

From their website:
Stiltz & Serious C are a duo from Dartmouth College and co-founders of the thriving Young Conservatives Facebook group. In a day where conservatives are seen as close-minded and archaic, these fresh hip hop artists bring a new perspective to a long-standing philosophy. They are a bastion of progress in the liberal recesses of the northeast, throwing down their message amidst much adversity. Instead of sinking into the assemblage of the self satisfied, Stiltz & Serious C challenge our hearts and minds with lyrics that makes us think about the current evolution of our American society. The mile-high beats of Josh Riddle collide with the eastern flow of David Rufful to produce a dynamic fusion of hip-hop and a real, profound conservative message.
I am not kidding. Here is their facebook page.

And here is their Anthem:


Where they Serious C raps:
Phase me, make me, into something that ain’t me
Serious c... can’t nobody shake me
great like the Gatsby, poppin posers like acne
Don't matter if your gay, straight, Christian or Muslim
There's one thing we all hate, called socialism.
It's loathsome, and America ain’t the outcome,
Raise taxes on the people,
And you’re gonna feel symptoms, problems
I gotta message for a young con:
superman that socialism,
waterboard that terrorism
Uh, wasn't Jay Gatsby (Serious C's reference above) a criminal who was obsessed with another man's wife? How many commandments has Gatsby broken before he is killed at the end of Fitzgerald's great novel?

How is that a good role model for young conservatives?

In any event, waterboarding is still torture and it's still illegal.

Stiltz has this to say:
Three things taught me conservative love:
Jesus, Ronald Reagan, plus Atlas Shrugged
Atlas Shrugged? But elsewhere Serious C raps:
I hate when,
government dictatin, makin, statements, bout how to be a merchant,
How to run a restaurant, how to lay the pavement
Bailout a business, but can't protect an infant
But doesn't the Ayn Rand Center for Individual Rights declare that abortion is an "absolute" right?

Why yes, it does:
Roe v. Wade is correct in its conclusion that a fetus has no rights and that a woman has the right to determine whether or not to abort her pregnancy.
And didn't Rand herself write:
Abortion is a moral right—which should be left to the sole discretion of the woman involved; morally, nothing other than her wish in the matter is to be considered. Who can conceivably have the right to dictate to her what disposition she is to make of the functions of her own body?
I'm just asking.

Maybe the Young Cons should reread their Ayn Rand as well as their F. Scott Fitzgerald.

(H/T to HuffingtonPost)

PA Sen. Jane Orie aide Alan David Berlin jailed for soliciting furry sex with teen boy

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:

An aide to a McCandless state senator known for her tough stance on sex crimes was arrested late Thursday on accusations he propositioned a 15-year-old over the Internet.

In a series of instant messages and online chats, Alan David Berlin, 40, of Carlisle, discussed dressing up in animal costumes and engaging in various sex acts with the boy, the state attorney general's office said yesterday.

[snip]

Investigators believe Mr. Berlin and the boy met on an Internet site for "furries," an online community of people who adopt half-animal, half-human personas.

In one message, according to the complaint, Mr. Berlin requested pictures of the boy and wrote, "When will your folks be out?"

Other messages describe various sex acts in explicit detail and refer to "yiffing," which is a "furry" term for having sex.

Mr. Berlin used the screen name "alan_panda_bear" in his messages. He also used that name for an online personal ad that depicts cartoonish panda bears, one wearing a diaper.
...Hey, who among us hasn't propositioned a teen-aged boy for sex in a panda suit?

Pittsburgh, besides hosting the G20 Summit and Netroots Nation in the coming months will also, once again, be host to Anthrocon (the world's largest convention for furries) this July. We're guessing that Berlin had some PTO scheduled for that month.

A movie of Berlin's story is said to be already in the works with the part of Berlin being played by Jack Black and Allison Harvard cast as Orie.

Seriously, nothing against consenting adults having good clean, furry fun, it's the solicitation of a minor that's the problem -- and it's the fact that it's another Republican with a kink that's funny.


PA State Sen. Orie who is tough on crime
and not a known furry (despite the outfit).


Wolf and cat costumes were found at Berlin's home.
(Take note, Rick Santorum: no doggie suits.)
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The President, Today


The text.

May 29, 2009

Oops!

We expect this sort of thing from The Washington Times, not the Post.

From The Washington Post:
Correction

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The May 27 editorial "The President's Pick" incorrectly referred to Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor as the daughter of "immigrant" parents. Judge Sotomayor's parents were not immigrants but were born in Puerto Rico after passage of a 1917 law that automatically conferred U.S. citizenship on island-born residents.

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Single-payer Healthcare Rally Today

WHAT: Single-payer Healthcare Rally
WHEN: Friday, May 29, 2009, 11:30 AM - 1:15 PM
WHERE: * 11:30 am - 12:15 pm: Rally in front of Highmark Blue Cross/Blue
Shield headquarters, corner of Liberty and Fifth Aves., downtown Pittsburgh
* 12:15 pm - 12:30 pm: Group Walk to UPMC headquarters, 600 Grant Street Pittsburgh, PA 15219
* 12:30 pm - 1:15 pm: Rally in front of UPMC headquarters, Grant St.

From Western PA Coalition for Single-Payer Healthcare:
Pittsburgh is joining close to 50 other cities across the country this week and next to speak out for single-payer healthcare. A majority of Americans want single-payer; a majority of physicians want single-payer. The only think missing is the political will in Washington for sane and humane healthcare reform.

PUT PATIENTS FIRST:
Support H.R. 676 The National Health Care Act, aka “Expanded and Improved Medicare for All” and S.703 American Health Security Act

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May 28, 2009

Pittsburgh to host G20 Summit

I've got to stop just skimming the subject lines in my inbox...

From the White House Media Affairs Office:
Fact Sheet: United States to Host Next G20 Summit in Pittsburgh

The United States will host the next G20 Summit September 24-25, 2009, in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At the Pittsburgh Summit, President Obama will meet with leaders representing 85 percent of the world’s economy to take stock of progress made since the Washington and London Summits and discuss further actions to assure a sound and sustainable recovery from the global economic and financial crisis.

About the G20

Invited leaders represent approximately 85% of the world’s GDP and come from all regions of the globe. The United Nations Secretary General and heads of International Financial Institutions and appropriate International Organizations and groupings also participate.

G20 finance ministers have met regularly to coordinate policy since the Asian financial crisis in the 1990’s. At the leaders level, the G20 is not an institutionalized process, but a response to the global economic and financial crisis. The G20 leaders held their first summit in Washington in November 2008 and met again in April in London.

How the Pittsburgh Summit Came About

At the meeting in London in April, leaders decided that, given the nature of the crisis and the importance of a robust response, it would be useful to meet again in September to assess the status of the economy and to discuss further actions. With leaders already scheduled to be in the United States in September to attend the United Nations General Assembly, President Obama offered to host the Summit and leaders of the G20 welcomed the invitation.

About the Summit Location

Pittsburgh has demonstrated a commitment to employing new and green technology to further economic recovery and development. The Summit will be held at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in downtown Pittsburgh, an exemplar of that commitment. The facility is proud to have a LEED Gold Certification from the U.S Green Building Council for leadership in energy and environmental design.
And, don't forget that Pittsburgh will be host to Netroots Nation in August.
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Non-Political Blog Post

From an undisclosed location...

Yesterday my lovely wife and I got to sample some pizza from Lombardi's in Little Italy. I'd heard for frickin years ovuh hee about how oo fuhgeddaboudit Lombardi's was the greatest frickin pizza in the whole frickin woild, hands down, end of discussion.

But I grew up in the pizza-shadow of Pepe's Pizza and the rest of the Southern Connecticut Abeetz crowd; Sally's and Modern Apizza (both in New Haven), Bimonte's and Sorrento's, (both in Hamden), Angelo's and Grand Apizza, (both in North Haven).

So how does Lombardi's stack up to my hometown favorite?

It's pretty awesome pizza and I can understand how it's supporters could rate it best but it's also a very very close second in my humble opinion.

And trust me, it's far far better than Pittsburgh pizza.

It's just not quite as good as New Haven pizza. Close but no cigar.

There are two things you take from this blog: "Never get involved in a land war in Asia." and "Never go in against a Neapolitan when pizza is on the line!"

Capice?

May 27, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you the legendary, the one and only Vast Hypocrisy of the Right Wing!

On Empathy:
President George H.W. Bush on Clarence Thomas in July 1991:

"I have followed this man's career for some time. He is a delightful and warm, intelligent person who has great empathy and a wonderful sense of humor."
On Empathy & Identity Politics:
Judge Samuel Alito's during his U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee Hearing for the Supreme Court:

And that's why I went into that in my opening statement. Because when a case comes before me involving, let's say, someone who is an immigrant -- and we get an awful lot of immigration cases and naturalization cases -- I can't help but think of my own ancestors, because it wasn't that long ago when they were in that position.

And so it's my job to apply the law. It's not my job to change the law or to bend the law to achieve any result.

But when I look at those cases, I have to say to myself, and I do say to myself, "You know, this could be your grandfather, this could be your grandmother. They were not citizens at one time, and they were people who came to this country."

When I have cases involving children, I can't help but think of my own children and think about my children being treated in the way that children may be treated in the case that's before me.

And that goes down the line. When I get a case about discrimination, I have to think about people in my own family who suffered discrimination because of their ethnic background or because of religion or because of gender. And I do take that into account. When I have a case involving someone who's been subjected to discrimination because of disability, I have to think of people who I've known and admire very greatly who've had disabilities, and I've watched them struggle to overcome the barriers that society puts up often just because it doesn't think of what it's doing -- the barriers that it puts up to them.

So those are some of the experiences that have shaped me as a person.



Your Mission:
Find a single Wingnut who screamed bloody murder about the above statements at the time that they were made.

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Rep. Tim Murphy Needs A Fact Checker

Rep. Tim Murphy (R-PA-18) has an opinion piece in today's Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on "cap and trade" legislation. In it, Murphy makes the following claim:

Estimates show such a plan would increase taxes. According to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology study, cap and trade could add $3,100 in costs to each family's annual energy bill by 2016.
Wow! That's a pretty frightening number.

It's also FALSE.

From M.I.T.'s April 1, 2009 letter to Rep. John Boehner (R-OH):

“It has come to my attention that an analysis we conducted examining proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, Report No., 146, Assessment of U.S. Cap-and-Trade Proposals, has been misrepresented in recent press releases distributed by the National Republican Congressional Committee. The press release claims our report estimates an average cost per family of a carbon cap and trade program that would meet targets now being discussed in Congress to be over $3,000, but that is nearly 10 times the correct estimate which is approximately $340. Since the issue of legislation to control greenhouse gases is now under consideration, I wanted to take an opportunity to clear up any misunderstanding created by this press release and to avoid further confusion.
Yes, Murphy's very scary number is off by a factor of almost 10.

And, just in case Boehner didn't pass that along to Murphy, Timmy could have found the same information at this very blog at the beginning of this month (see here).

If you click on that link, you'll see that David didn't just blog about this issue. He actually wrote to Murphy about it.

Guess Murphy's just been too busy to keep up with the FACTS...or something.
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Acklin Pulling Out the Big Guns

From Acklin for Pittsburgh:
KEVIN ACKLIN ANNOUNCES THE APPOINTMENT OF VETERAN REPORTER ANDY GASTMEYER AS PRESS SECRETARY

PITTSBURGH – Independent Mayoral Candidate Kevin Acklin announced today that veteran news reporter Andy Gastmeyer will join his mayoral campaign and serve in the position of Press Secretary.

“I’m honored that someone of Andy’s impeccable reputation and journalistic integrity has agreed to join our campaign team. Andy has always been committed to making our city a better place, and I’m grateful that he’s joining our effort,” Acklin said.

“Kevin Acklin has what it takes to win this race and be a tremendous mayor for the city of Pittsburgh. I’ve covered Pittsburgh politics for many years, and I’ve seen first-hand how Grant Street runs. I know we can do much better. So I look forward to this new challenge, to working with many of my former colleagues in a new capacity, and to bringing Pittsburgh the kind of leadership it deserves,” said Gastmeyer.
__________________________________________________
Andy Gastmeyer was a reporter for NBC Affiliate WPXI in Pittsburgh for over twenty-four years. He was a member of WPXI’s Investigative Unit and regularly covered Pittsburgh city politics. Andy retired from WPXI in December 2008. Pittsburgh City Council declared December 9, 2008, “Andy Gastmeyer Day,” to honor him for decades of excellence in reporting.
I'm only half kidding about the "big guns" part -- after all Lil Mayor Luke uses out-of-state hired guns for his campaign -- but I do think that Gastmeyer is a good addition to the assumed participation of Matt Merriman-Preston. (Even with Early Return's reminder that DeSantis had former WTAE-TV reporter Meghan Jones Rolla as his spokesperson.)
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May 26, 2009

Obama's Pick of Sonia Sotomayor for the Supreme Court


President Barak Obama announced his nomination of the first ever Latina for the Supreme Court today: Sonia Sotomayor.

Wingnuts started smearing her even before the official announcement.

They've labeled the summa cum laude graduate of Princeton and J.D. grad of Yale Law School (where she was also an editor of the Yale Law Journal) as stupid.

They're saying that Obama had to pick an Hispanic and a woman to further diminish her accomplishments (because it doesn't count that for the first couple of hundred years presidents had to nominate white males).

And, they're saying that as a person of color she can't be trusted to make rulings on race (apparently only white people can be trusted to make those types of rulings).

It would be extremely depressing to listen to if it were not for the fact that she'll likely prevail and sit on the court.

HA!



UPDATE: Mike Huckabee objects to Obama's pick of 'Maria' Sotomayor. (Maria, Rosa, whatever...you know, the Spanish chick...probably an illegal too.)
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The Bestest Argument Ever Against Gay Marriage!


As we await today's California Supreme Court ruling on whether the state's gay marriage ban will stand, the bestest argument ever against teh gay marriage comes from Sam Schilman in the Weekly Standard. It goes like this:
When a gay man becomes a professor or a gay woman becomes a police officer, he or she performs the same job as a heterosexual. But there is a difference between a married couple and a same-sex couple in a long-term relationship. The difference is not in the nature of their relationship, not in the fact that lovemaking between men and women is, as the Catholics say, open to life. The difference is between the duties that marriage imposes on married people--not rights, but rather onerous obligations--which do not apply to same-sex love.

The relationship between a same-sex couple, though it involves the enviable joy of living forever with one's soulmate, loyalty, fidelity, warmth, a happy home, shopping, and parenting, is not the same as marriage between a man and a woman, though they enjoy exactly the same cozy virtues. These qualities are awfully nice, but they are emphatically not what marriage fosters, and, even when they do exist, are only a small part of why marriage evolved and what it does.

[snip]

The fact is that marriage is part of a much larger institution, which defines the particular shape and character of marriage: the kinship system.

[snip]

Consider four of the most profound effects of marriage within the kinship system.

The first is the most important: It is that marriage is concerned above all with female sexuality. The very existence of kinship depends on the protection of females from rape, degradation, and concubinage.

[snip]

This most profound aspect of marriage--protecting and controlling the sexuality of the child-bearing sex--is its only true reason for being, and it has no equivalent in same-sex marriage.

[snip]

Few men would ever bother to enter into a romantic heterosexual marriage--much less three, as I have done--were it not for the iron grip of necessity that falls upon us when we are unwise enough to fall in love with a woman other than our mom.

[snip]

Can gay men and women be as generous as we straight men are? Will you consider us as men who love, just as you do, and not merely as homophobes or Baptists? Every day thousands of ordinary heterosexual men surrender the dream of gratifying our immediate erotic desires. Instead, heroically, resignedly, we march up the aisle with our new brides, starting out upon what that cad poet Shelley called the longest journey, attired in the chains of the kinship system--a system from which you have been spared.

Got it, gays?

Marriage sucks for hetro men but they take up the old ball and chain because they are selfless beings who know how vital it is to society and life as we know it to control da women folk.

So get with the program!

Mr. Schilman has sacrificed his happiness and well being three times (so far) to keep the world spinning-- the least you can do is not marry once.

Thank you.
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May 25, 2009

Memorial Day 2009, Pittsburgh

EVENTS:

  • Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall Memorial Day Celebration
    4141 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, 412.621.4253
    TODAY, 10:00 AM - 4:00 PM

    - 10:30 Special Ceremony in Memory of Pennsylvania’s Soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice in the War on Terrorism
    - 11:00 Presentation of new Memorial Garden Project
    - 1:00 Miss Soldiers & Sailors Contest (ages 13-17, 18-25)
    - More details here

  • Area Parades
    - More details here

  • "Fallen Not Forgotten" Memorial Benefit Concert for the Fallen Police Officers
    Amphitheatre at Station Square, One Station Square West Lot, Pittsburgh, PA 15219
    TODAY, 1:00 PM doors, 1:30 PM show

    - $10.00
    - All Ages
    - All proceed's go to the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police 'Fallen Hero's Fund', which benefit's the families of officer's, Paul J. Sciullo, Stephen J. Mayhle, and Eric G. Kelly.
    - The event will feature performances from Rusted Root, B.E. Taylor, Joe Grushecky And The House Rockers, Bill Deasy, Chris Higbee Project, Punchline, Wiz Khalifa, Mercury, Good Brother Earl, Granti Brothers, Buzz Poets (Acoustic), and additional performances from Abby Abondanza (formerly of Poverty Neck Hillbillies), TEN (Pearl Jam Tribute Band), The Boogie Hustlers, Gene The Werewolf, Crashing Metropolis, 28 North, Gramsci Melodic, The Spacepimps, LoveBettie, The Delaneys, Triggers, Nomad, Havannah Drive, Pop Rocks, Burning Earth, Tony Lee, & Cathsleigh.
    - More details here

  • National Moment Of Remembrance
    TODAY, 3:00 PM

    - As beneficiaries of those who have made the ultimate sacrifice and those putting their lives on the line presently, at 3 p.m., local time, on May 25, 2009, pause for one minute to represent national unity.
    - More details here

  • * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    And, if you happen to be breakfasting at the White House this morning, you'll be enjoying Pittsburgh's own Pamela's pancakes with President Obama, the Obama family and 80 military veterans. (More details here.)
    .

    May 22, 2009

    After being waterboarded for 6 seconds wingnut shock jock Mancow admits it's "absolutely torture"

    While Sean Hannity continues to punk out on his offer to be waterboarded for charity, Mancow took the plunge today:
    Erich "Mancow" Muller, a Chicago-based conservative radio host, recently decided to silence critics of waterboarding once and for all. He would undergo the procedure himself, and then he would be able to confidently convince others that it is not, in fact, torture.

    Or so he thought. Instead, Muller came out convinced.

    "It is way worse than I thought it would be, and that's no joke," Mancow said. "It is such an odd feeling to have water poured down your nose with your head back... It was instantaneous... and I don't want to say this: absolutely torture."

    "I wanted to prove it wasn't torture," Mancow said. "They cut off our heads, we put water on their face... I got voted to do this but I really thought 'I'm going to laugh this off.' "


    .

    I had a feeling...

    ...When I heard Matt Merriman-Preston, political consultant to Natalia Rudiak (& Chelsa Wagner & Bill Peduto), talking up independent mayoral candidate Kevin Acklin in this video interview with Bram that Matt might have more than a passing interest in Acklin.

    This evening I received a email invitation from Merriman-Preston to join the Acklin for Pittsburgh Facebook group.

    So, I guess we know what Matt will be up to after his vacation.

    (Acklin filed petitions on the 19th to secure his place on the ballot in the November 3rd general election.)
    .

    More More Bad News For The GOP

    Yesterday, I wrote about the Gallup poll showing a marked decline in the number of Republicans in this great great country of ours.

    There's more from The National Journal. More evidence, I guess, of the GOP becoming a regional party. Take a look:

    Founded in the decade before the Civil War as the Northern voice of union, the Republican Party today is more electorally dependent on the South than at any point in its past.

    In the House and Senate, nearly half of all Republicans were elected from that region, defined as the 11 states of the Confederacy, plus Kentucky and Oklahoma. In each chamber, Southerners are a larger share of the Republican caucus than ever before. Similarly, beginning with the 1992 presidential election, the South has provided at least 59 percent of the Electoral College votes won by the GOP nominee, including by George W. Bush in his 2000 and 2004 victories. That percentage is nearly double the South's share of all Electoral College votes and by far the most that GOP presidential nominees have relied on the region over any sustained period.

    Republican strength in the South has both compensated for and masked the extent of the GOP's decline elsewhere. By several key measures, the party is now weaker outside the South than at any time since the Depression; in some ways, it is weaker than ever before.

    And:
    Since Bush's re-election in 2004, the GOP has lost ground electorally in the South and the rest of the nation. But the erosion has been much more severe outside the South. That dynamic has threatened Republicans with a spiral of concentration and contraction. Because the party has lost so much ground elsewhere, the South represents an increasing share of what remains -- both in Congress and in its electoral coalition. The party's increasing identification with staunch Southern economic and social conservatism, however, may be accelerating its decline in more-moderate-to-liberal areas of the country, including the Northeast and the West Coast. "Many of the things they have done to become the dominant party in the South have caused them to be less successful in other places," said veteran Democratic strategist Bill Carrick, a South Carolina native.
    I take it that the GOP pie is getting smaller everywhere but since it's shrinking slower in the Confederacy (with OK and KY), that region's exerting a greater hold on the party.

    There's no way to know how this will play out in the decades ahead but in the short term it's gotta be, at the very least, disheartening to be a Republican these days.

    Fact-Checking Cheney's Speech

    McClatchy does the honors and it's no surprise what they find:
    Former Vice President Dick Cheney's defense Thursday of the Bush administration's policies for interrogating suspected terrorists contained omissions, exaggerations and misstatements.
    They're being way too diplomatic. Usually these are called lies.

    Here's more:

    In his address to the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative policy organization in Washington, Cheney said that the techniques the Bush administration approved, including waterboarding — simulated drowning that's considered a form of torture — forced nakedness and sleep deprivation, were "legal" and produced information that "prevented the violent death of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of innocent people."

    He quoted the Director of National Intelligence, Adm. Dennis Blair, as saying that the information gave U.S. officials a "deeper understanding of the al Qaida organization that was attacking this country."

    In a statement April 21, however, Blair said the information "was valuable in some instances" but that "there is no way of knowing whether the same information could have been obtained through other means. The bottom line is that these techniques hurt our image around the world, the damage they have done to our interests far outweighed whatever benefit they gave us and they are not essential to our national security."

    A top-secret 2004 CIA inspector general's investigation found no conclusive proof that information gained from aggressive interrogations helped thwart any "specific imminent attacks," according to one of four top-secret Bush-era memos that the Justice Department released last month.

    FBI Director Robert Mueller told Vanity Fair magazine in December that he didn't think that the techniques disrupted any attacks.

    Another omission/exaggeration/misstatement/whatever by Cheney:
    _ Cheney said that only "ruthless enemies of this country" were detained by U.S. operatives overseas and taken to secret U.S. prisons.

    A 2008 McClatchy investigation, however, found that the vast majority of Guantanamo detainees captured in 2001 and 2002 in Afghanistan and Pakistan were innocent citizens or low-level fighters of little intelligence value who were turned over to American officials for money or because of personal or political rivalries.

    Yea, these guys know intelligence.

    May 21, 2009

    Your Tax Dollars At Work

    From The Nation, May 20:
    The Department of Defense paid former Halliburton subsidiary KBR more than $80 million in bonuses for contracts to install electrical wiring in Iraq. The award payments were for the very work that resulted in the electrocution deaths of US soldiers, according to Department of Defense documents revealed today in a Senate hearing. [emphasis added]
    Halliburton, of course, was Dick Cheney's old employer.

    Big Election Wrap-up

  • I think that we can all agree that City Council victories by Natalia Rudiak and Robert Daniel Lavelle do not bode well for Lil Mayor Luke or his coattails.

    Change Lukey would rather not believe in:


  • Bram's interview with Matt Merriman-Preston, political consultant to Natalia Rudiak (& Chelsa Wagner & Bill Peduto), is definitely worth a look. (And, as I'm sure Matt knows by now Lil Mayor Luke did not break 60%.)

  • That Dastardly Dowd refuses to apologize to Pittsburgh's Favorite Grandson.


  • For the junkies who like to obsess over numbers, graphs and maps there's Allegheny County's web site, Chris Briem's last few posts at Null Space, Pitt's map and the Post-Gazette's ward map.

  • There's a discussion on the "power of the blogosphere" as pertains to elections in the comments section of this Slag Heap post. IMHO, the blogosphere in general can be used to raise awareness, to raise funds, to move the conversation and occasionally to actually make news. All of this is more likely to occur on the national level where you can have a viral effect -- not so much here with Pittsburgh's older demographic. That said, as Pittsburgh's MSM (print anyway) tends to read the blogs, it's probably easiest here to make the news (as in the case of the Smith Liar Flier or MacYapper's Opie in handcuffs story).

    In those same comments, Potter makes the point that, "In the case of district 2, my guess would be that your door-knocking for Blotzer did more to help her than anything anyone posted online."

    Here, I'm in agreement. but I'll add that having someone work the polls can be a big asset as well. Case in point would be Hugh McGough's performance in the 16th Ward. While precincts 3 - 13 pretty much had the same results as his overall unfortunate performance (cause who'd want to vote for someone for judge who was highly recommended by the Bar and endorsed by both the P-G and the Trib...). However, in precincts 1 and 2 where there was a poll watcher (and inattentive Committee folk) he came in second and third respectively. Don't know if someone clued Don Walko that a majority of voters were walking in with McGough flyers or if he went to all the polls, but he and his wife came running over with more yard signs.

  • Speaking of 16-1, at least a couple of registered Democrats complained that when they went to vote, the screen gave them no choices for mayor and only offered them the option to write-in a name...hmmm, just like a Republican ballot would function. A technician was called and confirmed that nothing was wrong with the machines/software. Ya think maybe a poll worker was occasionally keying in D voters as R's? This would be the same polling place that had to temporarily shut down at 7:00 PM last November because of some poll worker freak out. Voters ended up in line until 9:30 (well, those who didn't give up and leave).

  • Finally, speaking of temporary shut downs, could the biggest victim of Tuesday's results be Matt H?


    Time will tell...
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  • More Bad News For The GOP

    This bubbled up a few days ago but in case you missed it, Gallup has some new poll data out:
    The decline in Republican Party affiliation among Americans in recent years is well documented, but a Gallup analysis now shows that this movement away from the GOP has occurred among nearly every major demographic subgroup. Since the first year of George W. Bush's presidency in 2001, the Republican Party has maintained its support only among frequent churchgoers, with conservatives and senior citizens showing minimal decline.
    They have charts and numbers to back this up. And they sum things up with:
    The Republican Party clearly has lost a lot of support since 2001, the first year of George W. Bush's administration. Most of the loss in support actually occurred beginning in 2005, after Hurricane Katrina and Bush's nomination of Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court -- both of which created major public relations problems for the administration -- and amid declining support for the Iraq war. By the end of 2008, the party had its worst positioning against the Democrats in nearly two decades.
    I'm sure it's all the fault of the lib'rel media.

    May 19, 2009

    More On Cheney's Iraq/al-Qaeda Claims

    It was something I missed last Friday.

    Cheney has been caught in another lie. McClatchy begins:
    Then-Vice President Dick Cheney, defending the invasion of Iraq, asserted in 2004 that detainees interrogated at the Guantanamo Bay prison camp had revealed that Iraq had trained al Qaida operatives in chemical and biological warfare, an assertion that wasn't true.
    Chew on that for a moment before going on to the next two paragraphs:

    Cheney's 2004 comments to the now-defunct Rocky Mountain News were largely overlooked at the time. However, they appear to substantiate recent reports that interrogators at Guantanamo and other prison camps were ordered to find evidence of alleged cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein — despite CIA reports that there were only sporadic, insignificant contacts between the militant Islamic group and the secular Iraqi dictatorship.

    The head of the Criminal Investigation Task Force at Guantanamo from 2002-2005 confirmed to McClatchy that in late 2002 and early 2003, intelligence officials were tasked to find, among other things, Iraq-al Qaida ties, which were a central pillar of the Bush administration's case for its March 2003 invasion of Iraq.

    Do I need to say that no one's been able to find any credible evidence of any operational link between Saddam's Iraq and al-Qaeda?

    The details:
    The Rocky Mountain News asked Cheney in a Jan. 9, 2004, interview if he stood by his claims that Saddam's regime had maintained a "relationship" with al Qaida, raising the danger that Iraq might give the group chemical, biological or nuclear weapons to attack the U.S.

    "Absolutely. Absolutely," Cheney replied.

    A Cheney spokeswoman said a response to an e-mail requesting clarification of the former vice president's remarks would be forthcoming next week.

    "The (al Qaida-Iraq) links go back," he said. "We know for example from interrogating detainees in Guantanamo that al Qaida sent individuals to Baghdad to be trained in C.W. and B.W. technology, chemical and biological weapons technology. These are all matters that are there for anybody who wants to look at it."

    Except it wasn't true.

    They were waterboarding to establish the link anyway - to cover their collective asses. No "ticking time-bomb" scenario here. No thwarting another attack by "the terrrists, the evil-doers." Torture to make the political case for the illegal immoral invasion of Iraq.

    Prosecute the torture.

    Some notes for today's primary election

  • The ADB has a press release from Councilwoman Smith.

  • Slag Heap considers what a Zappala Peck win would mean.

  • Infinonymous notes that Ravenstahl can't even be trusted with taking care of the beer.

  • The Pittsburgh Comet finds that Tony Ceoffe ♥ scofflaws.

  • I will be voting for Patrick Dowd for mayor and Hugh McGough for Court of Common Pleas and cribbing from Progress Pittsburgh's Big Endorsement List (among other lists) for judicial votes (Barbara Behrend Ernsberger, Joe Williams, Susan Evanshavik DiLucente, Alex Bicket, Philip Igneizi, Anne Lazarus).

  • If I was in District 2 I'd vote for Georgia Blotzer, if I was in district 4 I'd vote for Natalia Rudiak, if I was in District 8 I'd vote for Bill Peduto, if I was in Wards 9 & 6 I'd vote for Susan Banahasky, and if I had to choose between Motznik and Diven I'd get a really big hammer and a really big steel spike and drive it into my own head.

  • I'll be poll watching all day, so no more posts from me today until fairly late (if any), so I'll say it now:

    GET OUT THERE AND VOTE!

    .
  • May 18, 2009

    A Loaded Deck

    Man, I really didn't want to go back here again, but the painfully punny "Payneful Mistake" blog has left me no choice:


    Really, Payneful Mistake? The number one problem you have with Councilwoman Tonya Payne is that she supported Hillary Clinton in the Democratic PRIMARY despite her district's preference for Barack Obama?

    Let's set aside that elected officials often come out for a candidate far earlier in the process than regular voters. Let's set aside that the whole reason for Super Delegates is to have a group of voters who don't necessarily represent the popular vote (not that I even like that system). Let's set aside that Payne has been a longtime supporter of the Clintons and a real fan of Hillary. Let's set aside that Clinton's candidacy was historic as well. Let's even set aside that President Obama has gotten over the primary and appointed Hillary to Secretary of State.

    Let's just follow the logic of this blog where it takes us.

    If Payne's judgment is so poor for having supported Hillary Clinton, if it's the number one mistake she's made and doesn't deserve reelection because of it, and if she's one of the "haters" for voting for Hillary, then so is this woman:


    Well not just that woman, all of these women:




    Those would be the nine out of twelve female members of the Congressional Black Caucus in 2008 who supported Clinton over Obama. All, I will add, in districts which supported Obama over Clinton. (It is true that Waters and Cheeks Kilpatrick switched their support to Obama, but only at the last possible moment -- the day of the last state primary and after they had cast their votes for Clinton in their own state primaries -- when it no longer really mattered.)

    So, I ask the Payneful Mistake blog if all of the above women have poor judgement, don't deserve reelection and are haters?

    [OK, now I can sleep tonight.]
    .

    Because sexism is dead


    .

    Patrick Dowd's Good Call

    I received a call at 7:05PM on Saturday night and on comes the recorded voice of Patrick Dowd and I assume it's a typical campaign call, but it turns out to be anything but typical.

    Turns out it was a virtual town hall. Once I signaled my agreement to participate I was connected to a live telephone conference with mayoral candidate Patrick Dowd and thousands of my fellow Pittsburghers. The moderator said that 2,000 people were on the line over the course of the event (the number of folks participating ebbed and flowed throughout the hour-long call).

    Everyone was invited to ask questions of the candidate and Dowd had time to take about a dozen of them.

    The questions asked were wide-ranging and included pensions/debts, employment, air quality, city/county consolidation, ending waste, youth curfews, and community development.

    Those asking questions came from areas that included Westwood, Brighton Heights, Mt. Washington, Greenfield, Oakland, Lincoln Place, North Point Breeze, the North Side, and Park Place. There were multiple Southsiders who asked questions because we are a mouthy bunch (I was in queue to ask a question on pensions but a city cop beat me to it).

    It was an interesting use of campaign resources. I've grown accustomed to participating in these types of calls by various issue-oriented groups, as well as the primary telephone pressers that the Hillary Clinton campaign held (I received email invitations to Obama pressers during the primary but would never get the confirmation code needed to call in). However, the issue group calls (and media/blogger-only pressers) were by email invitation and you called them. The Dowd call was an unannounced call that you accepted on-the-fly.

    Dowd sounded intelligent, reasonable and well informed throughout the call. I have to say that I thought it was pretty cool idea.

    I hate to say it, but I believe that Lil Mayor Luke can't be beat this time around. However, I've been wavering between voting for Dowd and voting for Carmen Robinson. The town hall on Saturday pushed me into the Dowd camp.

    Good call, Patrick.
    .

    With Profound Apologies...

    I found this at The Poorman Institute.


    I am not really sure what to say. I thought that (hoped that) it was perhaps a parody or joke of some kind but then I found this:


    Amazing.

    Absolutely amazing.

    May 17, 2009

    Jack Kelly Sunday

    This week's column, Jack takes on the recent Washington Press Corps Dinner.

    Newsflash: Jack Kelly thinks the Washington Press Corps is in the tank for President Obama!

    Only his "proof" is far from convincing.

    And oddly enough he spends almost half of the column on Meghan McCain - even though she's not in the tank for Obama and not a member of the Washington Press Corps - as "evidence."

    Huh?

    He describes Ms McCain with this:
    [T]he not-especially-bright daughter of Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.
    And with this rhetorical question:
    Why would a woman of no discernible accomplishment think other people ought to know who she is, or care?
    And fulfilling the comedy rule-of-three, finally with this:
    Mostly, of course, because Meghan is a spoiled brat. Her father became a hero because he believed in service to his country. She thinks that for no other reason than that she is a blood relation she ought to be served.
    Funny, 8 years ago a lot of people were saying the same thing about the Torturer President.

    But back to McCain. She's gotten into trouble with the Republicans true believers for writing things like this:
    [C]ertain individuals continue to perpetuate negative stereotypes about Republicans. Especially Republican women. Who do I feel is the biggest culprit? Ann Coulter. I straight up don’t understand this woman or her popularity. I find her offensive, radical, insulting, and confusing all at the same time.
    Though I find this odd because Jack also has had issues with Coulter:
    But the dyspeptic denizens of the Right believe in addition by subtraction. To make the GOP stronger, moderates must be calumnized and driven from it. Polemicist Ann Coulter is so angry with Mr. McCain's occasional embrace of Democratic ideas that she says she'll campaign for Democrats if Mr. McCain wins the nomination.

    Ms. Coulter says this sort of thing whenever she feels she's not getting enough attention. Her position is extreme, even among the extremists.
    I wonder if Jack still thinks McCain is "not especially bright" now?

    With little or no rhetorical segue, Jack suddenly starts in on Wanda Sykes and her performace at the White House Correspondents' Dinner:
    The entertainment at the dinner was provided chiefly by Wanda Sykes, a "comedian." Her routine, and the audience's response to it, says much about Washington's glitterati.

    Typically at these dinners, the incumbent president is lampooned. But Ms. Sykes directed her fire at conservatives. Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh is a "traitor." He would have been the 20th hijacker on 9/11, but was too strung out on Oxycontin to make the flight. She hoped Mr. Limbaugh would die of kidney failure.

    Note the ironic quotations marks. Subtle. Before we let Jack get all PC on Sykes' jokes (if Jack were writing that it would have read: Sykes' "jokes"), let's take a look at Eric Boehlert over at Mediamatters.org. Boehlert finds similar angst with James Taranto of the Wall Street Journal. Taranto wrote:
    Why do liberals find this joke funny when they should find it embarrassing? The answer, it seems clear, is that this is an example of shock humor: a genre that relies on the frisson of violating taboos. By our count, Sykes runs afoul of five taboos in her Limbaugh joke: She equates dissent with treason. She likens a domestic political opponent to a foreign enemy. She makes fun of the disabled (Limbaugh's past addiction to painkillers would entitle him to protection under the Americans With Disabilities Act). She makes light of a form of interrogation that some people consider torture. And she wishes somebody dead.
    Which Boehlert deconstructs:
    The comedy gold, of course, is that Taranto unwittingly describes, point-for-point, the Rush Limbaugh show as its been heard for nearly two decades. But over that 20 years time, how many times has Taranto taken to the Op-ed town hall to tsk-tsk Limbaugh's brand of hateful humor? This is just a guess, but I'm guessing it's a bullseye: ZERO.

    When Limbaugh or the GOP Noise Machine equates dissent with treason, likens political opponents to a foreign arm, mocks the disabled (paging Michael J. Fox), makes fun of interrogation and wishes somebody dead, it's funny and insightful. But when a liberal comedian does it, guess what? It's the end of the world as we know it.

    And what of Ms McCain? She also didn't reportedly like Sykes. From the same Daily News article Jack quotes:
    “Sen. McCain gave you grief about the new helicopters you didn’t order,” said Sykes, adding, “I think Mr. McCain was a little bitter because he wanted to be in the new helicopters. Mr. McCain, I’m sure if you ask nicely, your wife will buy you a new helicopter.”

    While the assembled crowd of politicos, journalists and celebrities roared with laughter, Meghan was not among them.

    “I didn’t like the joke about my mom [Cindy],” the young McCain told us after the dinner. “Why talk about her at all? I (didn’t mind the jokes) about my dad, but leave my mom out of it. It really wasn’t in good taste.”

    Yah, Jack left that part out.

    This is how you do it

    This is how you talk about torture:


    (h/t to Digby)
    .

    I'm less than human

    According to Cardinal Cormack Murphy-O'Connor:


    "It is a diminshment of what it is to be human, in the sense I believe humanity is directed, because made by God, I think if you leave that out, you're not fully human."
    .

    Hey! Even The Ghost of Harry Caray Sez So.

    About 3:15 in.


    Waterboarding is torture. It's like the one thing everyone in Heaven agrees on.

    May 16, 2009

    Ceoffe/Deutsch Whisper Shout Campaign Against Banahasky

    Loyal readers of the Pittsburgh City Paper already know that the race to replace retiring magistrate Eugene Zielmanski in Lawrenceville's 6th and 9th wards has already garnered more than the normal amount of attention for this office.

    Loyal readers of this blog already know that we have a lot of ugliness happening this election cycle.

    The latest nastiness is accusations that Tony Ceoffe ally and Ward 9 Chair, Ronald Deutsch, has been going around Lawrenceville intimidating people displaying Susan Banahasky yard signs and telling voters in the district that she's -- horrors of horrors -- a Jew! (See here and here.) Ceoffe and Banahasky are running for Zielmanski's office.

    For the record, she's Catholic (click here to see that her mother was honored by Diocese of Pittsburgh for her service to the Catholic Church). And, yes, I feel almost dirty having to prove that she's not a Jew -- as if there actually was something wrong if she were -- but obviously people are playing to the bigotry (perceived or real) of some in the community.

    Deutsch and Banahasky have a history. He challenged her election petitions:

    Bodack is a Ceoffe ally, and he owns the building that houses Lawrenceville United. (Bodack's father, a former state senator, owns the building containing the magistrate's office where Ceoffe hopes to work.) Meanwhile, an attorney for Dowd's 2007 council campaign, Isobel Storch, represented Banahasky in response to an aborted attempt to challenge her election petitions. And who originally filed that challenge? Ward 9 chair Ronald Deutsch, who sits on the neighborhood fireworks committee -- for which LU handles the money.
    And, as Pittsburgh is a small town when it comes to politics, it's easy to play Six Degrees of Ronnie Deutsch:
  • Deutsch was an aide to ousted Councilman Len Bodack.

  • Patrick Dowd, who won Bodack's seat, had questions about Deutsch seemingly performing campaign duties on City payroll time (again over ballot issues) during his City Council race.

  • The Post-Gazette lumped Deutsch together with former Councilman Jeff Koch and other ousted politicians who landed jobs in the Ravenstahl Administration after being turned out by the public.
  • So here's my nearly annual plea when it comes to Pittsburgh primaries:

    Don't reward bad behavior!

    Vote for Susan Banahasky, http://susanformagistrate.com
    .

    Ravenstahl, Smith & Reilly Falsely Claim Post-Gazette Endorsements

    Pittsburgh's in the middle of an epidemic, folks, but it ain't the Swine Flu. It's mendacious pols with misleading fliers which make it appear as if the Post-Gazette endorsed them when that is in fact A BIG FAT LIE.

    Only yesterday the P-G ran an editorial blasting City Councilwoman Theresa Smith for her deceptive fliers which claimed a P-G endorsement when they had in fact endorsed Georgia Blotzer for Council District 2...twice. Now the P-G reports that Lil Mayor Luke and Patrick Reilly are in on the act. They all juxtapose the Post-Gazette logo on their fliers to make it appear as an endorsement. (Is their some dank basement or dark alley where these folks meet to compare notes on how best to lie to voters?)

    Let's review:
  • The P-G endorsed Patrick Dowd for Mayor, not Lukey Steelerstahl Bathroomstahl WTFenstahl Ravenstahl.

  • The P-G endorsed Georgia Blotzer for City Council District 2, not Theresa Smith Kail-Smith Smith.

  • The P-G endorsed Natalia Rudiak for City Council District 4, not Patrick "Who?" Reilly.

  • http://www.dowdformayor.com

    http://www.georgiaforcouncil.com

    http://nataliarudiak.com

    .

    May 15, 2009

    Post-Gazette Slams Councilor Smith for False Flier


    The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette makes it clear that they did not endorse Theresa Smith in the race for Pittsburgh City Council District 2 -- they endorsed Georgia Blotzer -- twice.

    They had to make it clear as Smith has been distributing completely misleading fliers to voters:
    Campaign fliers being distributed by city Councilwoman Theresa Smith in her bid to be renominated in Tuesday's primary have left a bad taste in our mouths here on the Post-Gazette Editorial Board.

    [snip]

    Nonetheless, after voters chose Ms. Smith, we published a congratulatory message welcoming her to council and wishing her well in the tasks ahead. It is that editorial that Ms. Smith has reproduced on campaign material, under the headline: "Endorsed Democrat for City Council." It is true that she was backed by the local party committee, but the reprinting of our editorial below it suggests to many that she was endorsed by the newspaper.

    So we'll reiterate. The Post-Gazette endorses Georgia Blotzer for City Council because we believe she is the strongest candidate for District 2 Democrats and would best serve the city as a whole.
    Read the full editorial here.

    Kudos again to Bram for posting the fliers!

    Blog Reactions:

  • Councilwoman Smith: Lying Her (Bleep) Off , The Pittsburgh Comet

  • Pittsburgh City Councilor Theresa Smith's Deceptive Fliers, 2 Political Junkies

  • Friday: In the Hands of Hobbits..., The Pittsburgh Comet

  • PG edt blasts Smith camp, Early Returns


  • * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Obligatory Disclaimer: As mentioned before, I've been paid by the Georgia for Council campaign to create and maintain her web site: http://www.georgiaforcouncil.com/

    .

    More On Cheney's Use of Torture

    It starts here.

    After writer Lawrence Wilkerson, Secretary of State Colin Powell's former chief of staff, points out some obvious facts about the Bush Cheney administration, for example:
    First, more Americans were killed by terrorists on Cheney's watch than on any other leader's watch in US history. So his constant claim that no Americans were killed in the "seven and a half years" after 9/11 of his vice presidency takes on a new texture when one considers that fact. And it is a fact.
    he drops the big one on us:

    Likewise, what I have learned is that as the administration authorized harsh interrogation in April and May of 2002--well before the Justice Department had rendered any legal opinion--its principal priority for intelligence was not aimed at pre-empting another terrorist attack on the U.S. but discovering a smoking gun linking Iraq and al-Qa'ida.

    So furious was this effort that on one particular detainee, even when the interrogation team had reported to Cheney's office that their detainee "was compliant" (meaning the team recommended no more torture), the VP's office ordered them to continue the enhanced methods. The detainee had not revealed any al-Qa'ida-Baghdad contacts yet. This ceased only after Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, under waterboarding in Egypt, "revealed" such contacts. Of course later we learned that al-Libi revealed these contacts only to get the torture to stop.

    Then there's this from McClatchy:
    The Bush administration applied relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime, according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a former Army psychiatrist.

    Such information would've provided a foundation for one of former President George W. Bush's main arguments for invading Iraq in 2003. In fact, no evidence has ever been found of operational ties between Osama bin Laden's terrorist network and Saddam's regime.

    It leads us here. Robert Windrem at the Daily Beast reports:
    Two U.S. intelligence officers confirm that Vice President Cheney’s office suggested waterboarding an Iraqi prisoner, a former intelligence official for Saddam Hussein, who was suspected to have knowledge of a Saddam-al Qaeda connection.

    The former chief of the Iraq Survey Group, Charles Duelfer, in charge of interrogations, tells The Daily Beast that he considered the request reprehensible.

    Much of the information in the report of the 9/11 Commission was provided through more than 30 sessions of torture of detainees.
    While that intelligence official wasn't waterboarded, he WAS an official POW. For Cheney to suggest waterboarding a real life honest to goodness POW is disgusting in itself.

    Joe Conason over at Salon.com adds:
    Yet evidence is mounting that under Cheney’s direction, "enhanced interrogation" was not used exclusively to prevent imminent acts of terror or collect actionable intelligence -- the aims that he constantly emphasizes -- but to invent evidence that would link al-Qaida with Saddam Hussein and connect the late Iraqi dictator to the 9/11 attacks.

    In one report after another, from journalists, former administration officials and Senate investigators, the same theme continues to emerge: Whenever a prisoner believed to possess any knowledge of al-Qaida’s operations or Iraqi intelligence came into American custody, CIA interrogators felt intense pressure from the Bush White House to produce evidence of an Iraq-Qaida relationship (which contradicted everything that U.S. intelligence and other experts knew about the enmity between Saddam’s Baath Party and Osama bin Laden’s jihadists). Indeed, the futile quest for proof of that connection is the common thread running through the gruesome stories of torture from the Guantánamo detainee camp to Egyptian prisons to the CIA's black sites in Thailand and elsewhere.

    And he ends with:
    Whether Bush, Cheney and their associates were seeking real or fabricated intelligence, they knowingly employed methods that were certain to produce the latter -- as American officials well knew because those same techniques, especially water torture, had been used to elicit false confessions from captured Americans as long ago as World War II and the Korean conflict.

    Cheney now claims that he preserved the country from terrorism and saved thousands and perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives. We need a serious investigation, with witnesses including the former vice-president under oath, to determine what he and his associates actually did with the brutal powers they arrogated to themselves -- because instead their actions cost thousands upon thousands of American and Iraqi lives, all in the service of a political lie.

    Investigate the torture. Prosecute the torture.

    May 14, 2009

    City Paper Update

    Oh, I'll say it on the record: Go read Chris Potter.

    He may have completely sold out whatever remnants of "cool" he may once have had when he cut off his more than shoulder length hair (and I say that as someone who also has no claim to any cool AND who cut off his shoulder length hair more than 15 years ago) but he's worth the trip to the stacks of the City Paper in the corner of the coffee shop - despite the creepy American Apparel ads on the back cover.

    That having been said, I was struck with something he posted today:
    Apologies for the delay in this blog post. It's been a sort of surreal few days. I mean, it's not every week that Marty Freakin' Griffin takes time away from investigating ministers' sex lives to accuse us of disregarding people's privacy.
    Chris is being far too kind - but let's dive deeper into his initial point about Marty Griffin.

    This article, by Melissa Meinzer.

    It tells the story about Paster Brent Dugan a local Presbyterian minister who committed suicide in 2006 rather than face life after being confronted by none other than KDKA's own Marty Griffin:
    In the days prior to [Dugan's] death, KDKA-TV had been running teasers for a story about him, a story set to air Thu., Nov. 2. The snippets never named Dugan, but he was clearly visible on Pittsburgh screens -- being confronted by investigative reporter Marty Griffin at a McKeesport adult bookstore.
    Here in a nutshell was what Dugan faced:
    During the last days of October, KDKA started running teasers in which Griffin confronted Dugan about his visit to an adult-book store. The promos never made clear what Dugan had allegedly done wrong: Griffin would later tell viewers that the station had "uncovered illicit, possibly illegal, activity by a local minister, activities which at the very least violated the rules of his denomination."
    Here's what Dennis Roddy had to say about Marty Griffin back then:
    Marty Griffin, the go-for-broke reporter who worked the story was quoted saying that Rev. Dugan's behavior, if not illegal, might have violated the rules of his church.

    While it is gratifying to know that KDKA has taken on the job of enforcing rules for the Presbyterian Church, it might have been nicer to know just what of public interest lay in the decision to pursue a story that turned out to be fatal to a subject who must have surprised everyone by feeling ashamed. KDKA, which presumably thought it necessary for the public to know about Rev. Dugan's sex life, has gone rather mute.

    Meinzer had some interesting footnotes to Griffin's Dugan story:
    In 1997, Griffin's then-employer, Dallas station KXAS-TV Channel 5, paid a reported $2.2 million to settle a defamation suit arising from a story Griffin aired about Dallas Cowboys receiver Michael Irvin. In that story, a topless dancer accused Irvin of participating in a rape with two other men -- accusations she later recanted, and which resulted in perjury charges against her.
    Then there's this:
    Griffin also conducted a hidden-camera investigation of Irvin's purported drug-buying activities, a story for which KXAS paid an informant $6,000. The station admitted no wrongdoing in the 1997 settlement, which Griffin opposed.
    Yea, Griffin is the guy to lecture Chris Potter and the City Paper on respecting privacy. I'll let Potter explain what they were trying to do:
    We were seeking an explanation about how and why the court gave the Scaifes a courtesy the average divorcing couple doesn't get: the ability to have their dirty laundry aired only in secret.

    This is Journalism 101, even if Griffin doesn't recognize it: If somebody says you can't get access to files or meetings that are ordinarily public, you ask why.
    Short haired Potter.

    Joe Torsella Won't Challenge Arlen Specter

    Joe Torsella drops out of the Democratic Senate race. His video statement from his web site:



    (h/t to pa2010)
    .

    Pittsburgh City Councilor Theresa Smith's Deceptive Fliers

    Bram at The Pittsburgh Comet has posted a flyer from Theresa Smith who is running in the primary election on Tuesday for City Council in District 2. He points out that the flyer makes it seem as though Smith won the endorsement of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    The P-G endorsed Georgia Blotzer (both for the May 19th primary as well as in the shockingly low turnout February special election which Smith won):
    Blotzer in District 2: She's the best council choice for the Democrats
    Thursday, April 30, 2009
    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    Active choice: Blotzer deserves a seat on City Council
    Tuesday, January 27, 2009
    Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
    Moreover, Smith's flyer also misleads voters about what funding she has secured.

    Naturally, she's the Committee endorsed candidate.

    [sigh]

    On the brighter side, Georgia Blotzer has won the endorsement of Michael Lamb.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

    Obligatory Disclaimer: As mentioned before, I've been paid by the Georgia for Council campaign to create and maintain her web site: www.georgiaforcouncil.com
    .

    Jim Burn: Democratic Committee = "a paramilitary operation"

    According to a source who attended Tuesday night's Democratic City Committee election meeting, Jim Burn, Chair of the Allegheny County Democratic Committee, let it be known that the Democratic Committee is a "paramilitary operation" with a clear chain of command and no room for dissent (even in a Democratic primary).

    He also compared supporting someone other than an endorsed candidate to crossing a union picket line. If you follow Burn's logic, the late Pittsburgh Mayor Dick Caliguiri was a scab.

    Nice one, Jim!

    Looks like they're back to marching in lockstep (guess we should forget any previous musings from Burn on the possibility of ever having an "open primary").

    Ugh!

    The Ideal Committee Member (according to Burn):

    .

    How The Bush Administration Supported The Troops

    If you look around, you can still see some of those colorful "Support Our Troops" magnets that some put on their cars.

    Too bad the Bush Administration didn't support the troops like they expected the rest of us to.

    Case in point: Water.

    The CBS reported:
    Stories of short supplies for American forces in Iraq, such as inadequate body armor or unshielded Hummers, have been around since the war began. CBS affiliate KHOU-TV in Houston has discovered that some soldiers were forced to ration water, perhaps as little as 2-3 liters per day, because there was never enough.
    According to the report, the Army recommended 15 liters of water per day could be lost in the desert heat and these guys got as little as 2, maybe three liters.

    Good thing was that it wasn't widespread:
    While many soldiers have said they had adequate access to water, and even Gatorade, KHOU found that the differing experiences seemed to have a great deal to do with when and where a soldier was deployed in Iraq, and their assignment.
    Here's KHOU's report.

    So early in the war, some of the boots on the ground had some harsh choices:
    Army Staff Sgt. Dustin Robey told KHOU correspondent Jeremy Rogalski that soldiers would throw up or pass out from dehydration.

    Chronic dehydration can lead to such problems as kidney stones, urinary infection, rectal afflictions and skin problems, and can have long-term health problems, including kidney injury.

    Robey said in 2003 his company would run out of water on missions, forcing them to improvise, like drinking water from whatever taps they found.

    Unfortunately, the often-untreated Iraqi water can cause intestinal illnesses. Robey said 50 to 60 members of his company got dysentery.
    Hmm...dysentery or dehydration.

    Any idea who was in charge of water over there in Bush's war? That's right:
    The water was supposed to be processed by Houston-based company KBR.
    Ah...the one-time Halliburton subsidiary, KBR. The same KBR responsible for all the dirty water and bad electrical work.

    But:
    KBR told KHOU that a Department of Defense Inspector General's report has concluded "KBR has (since) satisfied applicable water standards," adding that "the DoD has not found any illness which it attributes to water in Iraq."
    Looks like they've fixed things. Tell that to Robey:
    He says he's passed hundreds of kidney stones since returning form Iraq, and because of his condition the Army forced him to retire. His family is now facing foreclosure.
    Another great moment for the Bush legacy.

    May 13, 2009

    Going Galt! (maybe next week)

    Pandagon notes that even the blogger for Going John Galt hasn't managed to get around to going galt. These guys are just like Texas -- secede already!

    And, their post gives me an excuse to put up a graphic that I did back in March but never got around to using here. I give you Going Galt! magazine:


    (Click for larger image)

    .