Prosecute the torture.

November 30, 2009

Last day to get the Early Bird Rate for the PA Progressive Summit


Today's the last day you can get a 25% discount on registration to the PA Progressive Summit that will be held in January 2010.

From the web site:
The Pennsylvania Progressive Summit is the largest gathering of progressive activists and leaders in Pennsylvania. We’re coming together to build the progressive movement and to prepare for the legislative and electoral battles of 2010.

We believe that together we can build a permanent progressive majority in Pennsylvania. The Summit is bringing together hundreds of Pennsylvanians to discuss environment, energy, health care, home foreclosures, civil rights, state finances and budget, labor organizing and other progressive issues. It will include panels led by state and national experts; identity, issue and regional caucuses; prominent political, issue and policy-oriented speakers; and the most concentrated gathering of progressive bloggers and field organizers in Pennsylvania to date.
More information and registration at http://www.paprogressivesummit.org
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File this under: Things We Already Knew

A new report says that the Bush Administration let Osama bin Laden slip from our grasp in Tora Bora.


How Bush escaped criticism for so long is explained here.
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November 29, 2009

"Flesh-colored"

Sociological Images notes the problem with describing objects -- such as this dress in an Associated Press article -- as being "flesh-colored":


See the problem now?


Pssst, white skin is not the default. (Although as many comments at SI note, the First Lady's dress is more gold/champagne than the light pinky-peach normally referred to as "flesh-colored"/"nude" so the AP even gets that wrong.)
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November 27, 2009

KDKA's Story on #ravenstahlrumors on Twitter

KDKA's Jon Delano interviews Bram Reichbaum of The Pittsburgh Comet, Chris Potter of the Pittsburgh City Paper and me about the online reaction to Lil Mayor Luke's hiring of a Philly attorney to handle speculation about his marital woes:

http://kdka.com/video/?id=65725@kdka.dayport.com

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Post-Gazette Article on #ravenstahlrumors on Twitter


Raise your hands if you think Pittsburgh's Lil Mayor Luke and his Philly attorney went overboard threatening to sue anyone and everyone who engage in any rumors/speculation about his separation from his wife.

The P-G interviews Gene Grabowski (a former reporter with The Associated Press who now specializes in crisis communications) and me about Lukey's failed media strategy which led to the rampant mockery to be found at http://twitter.com/search?q=%23ravenstahlrumors .

From Grabowski:
"Where I might differ on the strategy, however, is the aggressive statements that his lawyer's making," Mr. Grabowski said.

"For two reasons. One, [the lawyer] himself is making the suggestion of defamatory statements and smears and innuendos. He's the one raising the negativity before the reporters even do.

"No. 2, his language seems unnecessarily aggressive and litigious. I'm reluctant to second-guess other people's strategies, but I would say that if I were still a news reporter, such a statement would set my teeth on edge and actually spur me, not only to be more curious about the circumstances, but probably even more aggressive in my pursuit of the story."
You can read all of what Grabowski and I have to say on this issue here.

NOTE TO ATTORNEYS: No actual rumor-mongering/gossiping occurred during the making of this blog post (nor were any animals hurt).
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Braddock Hospital Closure Protest at UPMC Headquarters - Today!

They'll be a protest today at UPMC headquarters in downtown Pittsburgh to demand that Braddock Hospital stay open and a national health care protest in Squirrel Hill.
WHAT: Braddock Hospital Protest at UPMC Headquarters, Black Friday
WHEN: TODAY! 11:30 AM on Friday, November 27
WHERE: Gather at the US Steel Building

Next Community Planning Meeting:
Monday, November 30 at 7:00 PM Immanuel Lutheran 420 Fifth St. across from UPMC Braddock.

Go to: http://mobilizeforhealthcare-pittsburgh.ning.com/ to join nationwide health insurance corporation protests and to target UPMC for its closing of Braddock Hospital.
Also, at the same time:
Black Friday Action on Health Care

Come and support Health Care for America Now (HCAN) as we pass out the Grinch Flyer!

Meet us at the corner of Forbes and Shady at 11:30 AM for an hour's worth of flyering. Please bring your cellphone if you have one, so we can get passersby to call the number!

We will distribute the flyer in front of Pro Bikes, 5876 Forbes Avenue, because they sell North Face Wiseman products.

The flyer urges holiday shoppers to call Wiseman’s retail companies at 336-424-6192 and express their displeasure with his role in blocking health care reform. Specifically, the flyer says that Eric Wiseman is playing Grinch with Health Care Reform.


This event has been canceled.

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November 26, 2009

THE Definition of "Historical Revisionism"

Via Thinkprogress.

Former Bush Administration Spokesperson was speaking about the recent shootings at Ft Hood (calling them a terrorist attack) when she said:
PERINO: And we had a terrorist attack on our country. And we should call it what it is. Because we need to face up to it so that we can prevent it from happening again.

HANNITY: I agree with you. And why won’t they say what you just so simply said?

PERINO: They want to do all of their investigations. I don’t know. All of the thinking that goes into it. But we did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush’s term. I hope they’re not looking at this politically. I do think we ought it to the American people to call it what it is.
Watch the clip:


Does Sean Hannity CORRECT Perino?

That would be a no.

Happy Thanksgiving.

UPDATE (NOV 27): From Talkingpointsmemo:
Dana Perino is backpedaling on comments (that we reported on earlier) that seemed to suggest that terrorists have struck America on President Obama's watch but didn't on President Bush's.
And here's what she said on Twitter:
Last night on Hannity, I obviously meant no terror attack on U.S. post 9/11 during Bush 2nd term. We have the tools, just need to use them!
Fair is fair. She did correct herself. They never did catch Bin Laden, though, did they? Or the Anthrax killer.

I'm just sayin'.

Happy Thanksgiving!



Happy Thanksgiving from your friends at 2pj!

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A Thanksgiving Tradition!


I'm originally from New England.

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

November 25, 2009

Rush Limbaugh Jokes About A Military Coup



From Talkingpointsmemo:
Rush Limbaugh may have crossed another line today in his anti-Obama rhetoric -- openly joking (at least, we hope he's joking) about a military coup.

Limbaugh noted that President Obama will be delivering his upcoming speech on Afghanistan, from the United States Military Academy at West Point.

"My question is: Will they detain him?" said Limbaugh. "Hopefully."
Can we call it treason yet?

Chris Matthews Nails Bishop Tobin On Hypocrisy On Abortion



Note: Matthews mentions Tobin's Pittsburgh connection which Chris Potter elaborates on here.
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Looks like someone has their work cut out for them

http://twitter.com/#search?q=%23ravenstahlrumors

(h/t to Joshua)
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They say timing is everything

From the uncut version of the KDKA interview (about 9:33 in):
Marty Griffin: Your political advisories, here's what they're going to say tomorrow. The mayor waited until after the election to do this. This thing's been falling apart for two years.

Luke Ravenstahl: Well, it hasn't been falling apart for two years. But we did wait. Uh, Erin and I, we've worked through this for, uh, almost a year now. Uh, we decided to wait, uh, because of those political reasons. We didn't want to mix this personal issue into the midst of a political campaign. We wanted to handle it on our terms. Uh, that was something that both her and I agreed to. Uh, and our political adversaries are going to say what they're going to say. Uh, you know, they'll spread rumors as they always have. Uh, you know, they'll throw stones as they always have. Uh, and we've dealt with that and we'll continue to deal with that. It does nobody any good. Um, but that's the nature of being the mayor and being in such a high profile position and both Erin and I have accepted that.
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November 24, 2009

Fear Factor


The Ravenstahls have hired Philadelphia attorney Richard Sprague to represent them in contacts with the media. According to Sprague, his job is "to prevent there being a whole bunch of smears, innuendoes, defamatory things being suggested. If that is so, I will bring appropriate legal action."

In light of the background on Sprague found at the Pittsburgh City Paper, this will now be 2PJ's Official Statement on the Ravenstahl Separation:
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl is the bestest mayor in the world! Richard Sprague is the bestest lawyer in the world! The Ravenstahls had and have the bestest marriage in the world! The separation is no more and no less than an Act of God.
For those keeping score at home -- in secret I hope -- you can get $50,000 for flipping off a cop in Pittsburgh, but you may be sued if you get caught gossiping about our mayor. What does this remind me of...

UPDATE: Just in case you were wondering, here's a small sample of what people are googling tonight on the intertoobz and how they are making their way here:




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Mayor Luke Ravenstahl Moves Forward (from his family)

Honestly, I'm not taking glee in this. Saturday when someone from the audience brought up Lil Mayor Luke at the end of the night, I took no real shots. I think I said something like, "I'm so tired of talking about him. What's the point? Folks love Pittsburgh's Favorite GrandsonTM."

The real question is:

Will Pittsburgh still love the guy after last night's revelation that he and his wife have separated?
(Living apart that is -- there's no legal separation in PA.)

Some things just may stick in their craw:
  • Can it be just a coincidence that the announcement occurred three weeks after the election and not, say, three weeks before the election?

  • He does seem to be saying that he chose his political career over his family.

  • The half of Pittsburgh who had not already heard of rumors of infidelity by Lukey have now heard it broached in public.

  • Those already less than happy with his holier-than-thou stances on issues like same-sex marriage and the privacy rights of women at health clinics may be less inclined to cut him a break that he's somehow forced into these positions because he's a Catholic.
  • That said, many of Pittsburgh's bubbas and nonnas probably have a real grandson who is separated/divorced. And, they also can't really fault him for using his family while campaigning because all pols do that and, for whatever reason, we seem to want our elected officials to come tied up in a neat happy family package.

    But, if those bubbas and nonnas do remember some campaign lit they got during the primary this year, I can't help but think that they are going to recall the photo on the last page and say to themselves, "but he's so young" -- and they won't be thinking of the boy mayor.

    Luke's got four more years to make it up to Grandma.
    .

    Well, THAT Didn't Take Long

    On Saturday, we posted this.

    Today, the Richard Mellon Scaife's Brain Trust went with this. It's all there:

    The Daily Telegraph of London reports that some of the world's top climate scientists engaged in nothing less than fraud to perpetuate the theology that man is responsible for supposedly cataclysmic global warming.

    The purported evidence comes in the form of thousands of e-mails and other documents pilfered from the computer servers of the world-renowned University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit.

    One e-mail "refers to a 'trick' being employed to massage temperature statistics to 'hide the decline' in temperatures." Which only solidifies the credibility of those who contend the "science" of global warming is anything but "settled" and is in every way "junk."

    To their credit, The Trib's editorial board did NOT cite any sources financed (as far as I can tell) back to the Sarah Scaife Foundation or any other foundation controlled by the Trib's owner, Richard Mellon Scaife. No circle-jerk here.

    But who did the Brain Trust cite?
    Couple this revelation with a new book by Christopher Booker that, claim by claim, debunks what the grim reapers of climate change have been peddling.

    Nevertheless, the world's politicians are "proposing the most damaging measures ever put forward in history -- cuts in carbon emissions, if implemented, would plunge our world back to the Dark Ages -- to meet a crisis which it now seems was never going to happen anyway," writes Mr. Booker.

    And you'd think that this "Christopher Booker" is some sort of climatologist, right?

    Wrong. He's a journalist writing for...the Daily Telegraph, the same source used by the Brain Trust to begin with. And that quotation? It's from here - a column Booker uses to promote his book.

    So Booker's no scientist but he might still be a credible source for writing about science, right?

    Wrong - he's written that "white asbestos" is chemically identical to talcum powder. Something the British HSE has publicly called "irresponsible."

    But Booker's misrepresentations about Climate Change are so egregious that George Monbiot, writer for the Guardian has made up the "Christopher Booker Prize for Bullshit".

    Monbiot on Booker:
    Claim 2:

    "Nothing was more laughable than the sequence showing a huge poster of the infamous 'hockey stick' temperature graph being driven round London on the back of a lorry, without any mention of the expert studies which have made the 'hockey stick' one of the most comprehensively discredited artefacts in the history of science."

    Fact:

    Far from being discredited, the hockey stick graph of past temperature reconstructions has been supported by a large number of further studies, as you can see in this graphic and on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's site. Those who claimed to discredit it have been comprehensively rebuffed. You can read more about this on the A Few Things Ill Considered blog and on Real Climate.

    Claim:

    "As late as August 28 this year it [the BBC] was still predicting that Arctic ice might soon disappear, just as this winter's refreezing was about to take ice cover back to a point it was at 30 years ago."

    Fact:

    This is complete trash. See the latest results from the National Snow and Ice Data Center. It reports: "Average Arctic sea ice extent for the month of December was 12.53m square kilometres (4.84m sq miles). This was 140,000 sq km (54,000 sq miles) greater than for December 2007 and 830,000 sq km (320,000 sq miles) less than the 1979 to 2000 December average." And: "Average ice extent in December was well below average and very close to that measured in 2007."

    Yea, Booker's a good fit for the Trib's brain trust. Completely wrong, of course, but a good fit.

    November 23, 2009

    Rep. Jason Altmire does not want to cover the uninsured


    You pay for my family's health insurance.
    Suckers!

    From the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:
    "The goal of this bill and the selling point for it when they were trying to round up the votes was, 'Isn't it wonderful that we're going to cover 30 million uninsured people?' That shouldn't be the goal. The goal is, we want to bring down the cost of health care for families and small businesses and especially the government," Altmire said.
    Shorter Altmire: If you don't have health insurance now shut up and die.
    .

    November 22, 2009

    PALIN 2012


    .

    Jack Kelly Sunday

    Now THIS is interesting.

    This week's column, by Jack Kelly, seems to be in two versions. There's the first published over at the Toledo Blade and a second edited version published by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

    Here's the opening in Toledo:
    WHAT were President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder thinking when they decided to try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the chief architect of the 9/11 attacks, and four other al-Qaeda bigwigs in a civilian court in New York City?

    From the standpoint of politics, this decision makes no sense. According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Monday, only 34 percent of Americans support the decision to try the al-Qaeda leaders in a federal district court. Sixty-four percent say they should be tried by a military commission, as the Bush administration planned to do.

    “The decision to bring Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in front of a civilian court is universally unpopular — even a majority of Democrats and liberals say that he should be tried by military authorities,” said CNN polling director Keating Holland.

    The decision is unlikely to grow more popular with time. At a minimum, a highly publicized trial will remind Americans of the 9/11 attacks, something Democrats have been encouraging us to forget.
    And the opening in Pittsburgh:
    From the standpoint of politics, this decision makes no sense. According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Monday, only 34 percent of Americans support the decision to try the al-Qaida leaders in a federal district court. Sixty-four percent said they should be tried by a military commission, as the Bush administration planned to do.

    The decision is unlikely to grow more popular with time. At a minimum, a highly publicized trial will remind Americans of the 9/11 attacks, something Democrats have been encouraging us to forget.
    This can't be a simple cut-and-paste error - the first and third paragraphs from the Toledo version are gone from the P-G. So something about the content of those paragraphs must've triggered an erasure (two, actually). But it gets odder from there. The first and third paragraphs are found in the version, published on November 17, at Jewish World Review but NOT in the version, published November 22, at RealClearPolitics. So unless RealClearPolitics just republishes the content published at the P-G, we can't assume the editing came from Jack's editors on the Boulevard of the Allies.

    NOW I gotta ask myself, why the erasures of some of the references to Khalid Sheikh Mohammed? They didn't erase him entirely and it leads some clumsy sentences later. For example:
    To fail to turn over intelligence sought through discovery is to run the risk that KSM and his co-conspirators might be acquitted on a technicality.
    Because Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's name is edited out from the opening, I guess we have to guess that KSM = Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. It's a pretty safe guess but not one newspapers usually force you to make.

    But let's get back to KSM and Jack. I do want to note that in his first paragraph (at the P-G) Jack is spinning already:
    From the standpoint of politics, this decision makes no sense. According to a CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll released Monday, only 34 percent of Americans support the decision to try the al-Qaida leaders in a federal district court. Sixty-four percent said they should be tried by a military commission, as the Bush administration planned to do.
    Now let's look at that poll. The question at hand reads:
    Now here are some questions about Khalid Sheik Mohammed who may be responsible for planning the 9/11 attacks and who is now in custody at a U.S. military prison in another country: If you had to choose, would you rather see Khalid Sheik Mohammed brought to trial in a criminal court run by the civilian judicial system, or would you rather see him tried by a military court run by the U.S. armed forces?
    It's Jack's last phrase that's the spin because the next question reads:
    And regardless of which court system you think he should be tried in, if you had to choose, would you rather see Khalid Sheik Mohammed brought to the U.S. to stand trial or would you rather see him tried in a U.S. facility in another country?
    And you know what? 60% said they like to see KSM "brought to the U.S. to stand trial" and 37% saying they'd like to see him tried in another country. Put the two together and you've got a sizable chunk of those asked saying yes to a military commission - as long as it's in the US.

    But what did the Bush Administration plan to do? Try them at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

    See Jack spin. Spin, Jack, spin.

    Considering some of the other stuff Jack's gotten through the filter and onto the pages of the P-G, I can't imagine that's the only reason for the editing.

    November 21, 2009

    How Long Before We See This At The Trib?

    The Competitive Enterprise Institute has a story on its website and I am wondering how long it'll take for our friends on the Pittsburgh Tribune-Reviews editorial board (aka Scaife's Brain Trust) to write about it.

    Let's all take a moment to remember that the CEI is funded (in part) by the Sarah Scaife Foundation and the Sarah Scaife Foundation is controlled by Richard Mellon Scaife who owns the Pittsburgh Tribune Review.

    And they've circle-jerked with the CEI before.

    Here's what the CEI posted:
    Scientists engaged in major global warming research and data collection have waged and discussed an internal smear and data manipulation campaign targeting critics of catastrophic global warming predictions. This was revealed when unknown hackers this week broke into the database of the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (CRU)—an academic institution that has for decades compiled raw climate science data. The CRU, embroiled in another recent scandal after it admitted deleting much of its raw data, has since acknowledged the authenticity of the hacked e-mails.
    Rush Limbaugh even chimed in on this (and when Rush chimes in, you know it's right. He has "talent on loan from God" doncha know). Here's a transcript from Mediamatters:
    I don't know if the jury's still out on that, but more and more people are picking up on this. The whole thing as we've -- I've instinctively known this from the get-go 20 years ago. The whole thing's made up. And the reason I know it is because liberals are behind it. When they're pushing something, folks, it's always bogus. It's never what they say it is. There's always a hidden reason behind the objective. The objective -- stated objective is just designed just to get you feeling guilty, responsible, frightened, scared -- and your kids as well. But it looks like substantial fraud, a lot of evidence of substantial fraud in reporting the evidence on global warming. And Clarice Feldman at the AmericanThinker.com is posted one this, and she's got a sample of the purportedly hacked materials on here -- of the 1,079 emails and 72 documents, and they are available online -- the hackers put them up.

    "Dear Roy -- or Ray, Mike, and Malcolm, Once Tim's got a diagram here we'll send that either later today or first thing tomorrow. I just completed Mike's nature trick of adding in the real temperatures to each series for the last 20 years, i.e., from 1981 onwards, and from the 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline in temperature." To hide the decline in temperature. "Mike's series got the annual land and marine values while the other two got April-September for NH land N of 20 north. The latter two are real for 1999 while the estimate for 1999 for NH combined is --" blah-blah-blah-blah-blah.
    RealClimate has the real story about the (let's all admit it, illegal) hack:
    No doubt, instances of cherry-picked and poorly-worded “gotcha” phrases will be pulled out of context. One example is worth mentioning quickly. Phil Jones in discussing the presentation of temperature reconstructions stated that “I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.” The paper in question is the Mann, Bradley and Hughes (1998) Nature paper on the original multiproxy temperature reconstruction, and the ‘trick’ is just to plot the instrumental records along with reconstruction so that the context of the recent warming is clear. Scientists often use the term “trick” to refer to a “a good way to deal with a problem”, rather than something that is “secret”, and so there is nothing problematic in this at all. As for the ‘decline’, it is well known that Keith Briffa’s maximum latewood tree ring density proxy diverges from the temperature records after 1960 (this is more commonly known as the “divergence problem”–see e.g. the recent discussion in this paper) and has been discussed in the literature since Briffa et al in Nature in 1998 (Nature, 391, 678-682). Those authors have always recommend not using the post 1960 part of their reconstruction, and so while ‘hiding’ is probably a poor choice of words (since it is ‘hidden’ in plain sight), not using the data in the plot is completely appropriate, as is further research to understand why this happens.
    Wired has this bit of fun:
    Bloggers allege that an e-mail from Kevin Trenberth, head of the Climate Analysis Section at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, suggests that reality contradicts scientific claims about global warming:
    Well I have my own article on where the heck is global warming ? We are asking that here in Boulder where we have broken records the past two days for the coldest days on record. We had 4 inches of snow. The high the last 2 days was below 30F and the normal is 69F, and it smashed the previous records for these days by 10F. The low was about 18F and also a record low, well below the previous record low….

    The fact is that we can’t account for the lack of warming at the moment, and it is a travesty that we can’t. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.
    But Trenberth, who acknowledged the e-mail is genuine, says bloggers are missing the point he’s making in the e-mail by not reading the article cited in it. That article – An Imperative for Climate Change Planning (.pdf) — actually says that global warming is continuing, despite random temperature variations that would seem to suggest otherwise.
    Wired goes on:

    Gavin Schmidt, a research scientist with NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, says the e-mails offer no damning indictment of climate researchers, and that bloggers are reading information in them out of context.

    “There’s nothing in the e-mails that shows that global warming is a hoax,” he told Threat Level. “There’s no funding by nefarious groups. There’s no politics in any of these things; nobody from the [United Nations] telling people what to do. There’s nothing hidden, no manipulation.

    “It’s just scientists talking about science, and they’re talking relatively openly as people in private e-mails generally are freer with their thoughts than they would be in a public forum. The few quotes that are being pulled out [are out] of context. People are using language used in science and interpreting it in a completely different way.”

    Now that a preemptive deconstruction of an expected Brain Trust editorial has occurred, I wonder of Scaife's droogs have the yarbles to spew any more of this chepooka.

    LATE UPDATE: The RealClimate link was added.

    November 20, 2009

    Fickle!

    Nothing uglier than a gaggle of pissed-off groupies.

    Seriously, Sarah Palin does seem to attract folks who are angry -- angry at the government, angry at their perceived lot in life -- angry at, well, everything.

    It doesn't take much for their anger to turn towards Palin herself when they don't get her autograph (scary!):




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    Help Lois Herr Against Joe Pitts (Stupak-Pitts Amendment)

    We've referred many times on this blog to the Stupak Amendment, but actually it's the Stupak-Pitts Amendment and the "Pitts" is one Joe Pitts: a Republican in PA's 16th Congressional District.

    Pitts has a challenger:


    Lois Herr is no Blue Dog and she can use your help -- especially tomorrow -- at this rally:
    A rally against the Stupak-Pitts Amendment to the U.S. House Healthcare reform bill is being held on Saturday, Nov. 21 at 10:30 AM in West Chester.

    The rally, to be held this Saturday, is co-sponsored by the National Organization for Women (NOW) and Planned Parenthood Pennsylvania Advocates. Lois will be a featured speaker at the rally.

    [snip]

    The Nov 21st Rally will be held at the Chester County Courthouse, 2 North High St., in West Chester, PA beginning at 10:30 AM.
    Pitts is rallying his troops against Herr and they plan to protest her at the rally:
    Subject: Protest Saturday
    I received a call from Joe Pitts campaign office today asking if we can get some people at the CC Courthouse (on High St.) on Sat. at 10:30 a.m. Lois Herr, (not related to the Herr Family) is running against Joe Pitts next year. She is all about abortion and is in lock step with all the dems in congress. She will be pushing for abortion in health care. We need people there with signs supporting the Pitts-Stupak Amendment as well , as other pro-life signs.

    Please pass this message on to any and all you think might be available to come. Also if you are able to be there, please let Jerri Lynn Wier know, so they will have an idea of how many people might be there. It is a given that the Daily Local will probably be there, and it would be good to have a good pro-life showing. Her e-mail address is: gwier@zoominternet. net.

    Pitts-Stupak Amendment: The prohibition of the "public option" from paying for abortion, except to save the life of the mother, or in cases of rape or incest; and by permanently prohibiting the use of the new federal premium subsidies to purchase private insurance plans that cover abortion.
    If you're anywhere near West Chester tomorrow, please try to attend: both in support of Herr and against Stupak-Pitts.

    http://www.herr2010.com

    .

    Dangerously Live Comedy Talk Show - Tomorrow Night

    The John McIntire Dangerously Live Comedy Talk Show is tomorrow night and features 1/2 of 2pj:


    .

    November 19, 2009

    A Follow Up On The God-Crazie


    You can find the transcript here.

    Here's how things began:
    MADDOW: “Let his days be few; and let another take his office,” “Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.” This is such strong language in secular terms about President Obama. Can you tell me if this means something less threatening to people hearing this in a biblical context?

    SCHAEFFER: No, actually, it means something more threatening. I think the situation that I find genuinely frightening right now is that you have a ramping up of biblical language—language from the antiabortion movement, for instance, death panels and this sort of thing. And what it‘s coalescing into is branding Obama as Hitler, as they‘ve already called him, as something foreign to our shores. We‘re reminded of that. He‘s born in Kenya—as brown, as black, above all, as not us. He is Sarah Palin‘s not a real American.

    But now, it turns out, that he joins the ranks of the unjust kings of ancient Israel, unjust rulers, to which all these biblical illusions are directed who should be slaughtered, if not by God, then by just men.
    And a little later Schaeffer cuts to the chase:
    But there is a crazy fringe to whom all these little messages that have been pouring out of FOX News, now on a bumper sticker, talking about doing away with Obama, asking God to kill him.

    Really, this is trolling for assassins. And this is serious business.

    It‘s un-American. It‘s unpatriotic. [emphasis added.]

    Obama's dangerous. He's the Anti-Christ. He's Hitler.

    And God-Crazies are being whipped into a God-Frenzie.

    God help us all (can an atheist actually say that??).

    Fox "News" Does It Again

    And what, pray tell, did they do again?

    They faked some crowd video. First it was a Michele ("She got teh crazie") Bachman rally:

    The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
    Sean Hannity Uses Glenn Beck's Protest Footage
    www.thedailyshow.com
    Daily Show
    Full Episodes
    Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

    Which Sean Hannity has already "apologized" for.

    Now it's this from Thinkprogress:


    From Thinkprogress:
    This afternoon, Fox News host Gregg Jarrett proudly announced that Sarah Palin is “continuing to draw huge crowds while she’s promoting her brand new book. Take a look at — these are some of the pictures just coming into us.” But the pictures that the network chose to display on-air appeared to be old file footage of Palin rallies from the 2008 presidential campaign. Individuals in the crowd are seen holding McCain/Palin signs, and others are holding pom-poms and cheering wildly. “There’s a crowd of folks,” an enthused Jarrett observed, referring to the old footage.
    Now if you're squeamish about the "appeared to be" language (and I was), don't be. Mediamatters has the proof Fox "News" doctored the tape. Again.

    Here's the opening shot from what Fox broadcast yesterday:

    And here's a photo posted from CFNews 13, a Florida TV station, about rally from last November 1 (that would be 2008, for those keeping score at home):

    Did they think no one would notice?

    November 18, 2009

    Religious Wingnuts Strike Again

    From The Christian Science Monitor:

    There’s a new slogan making its way onto car bumpers and across the Internet. It reads simply: “Pray for Obama: Psalm 109:8”

    A nice sentiment?

    Maybe not.

    The psalm reads, “Let his days be few; and let another take his office.”

    Presidential criticism through witty slogans is nothing new. Bumper stickers, t-shirts, and hats with “1/20/09” commemorated President Bush’s last day in office.

    But the verse immediately following the psalm referenced is a bit more ominous: “Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow.”

    This part I don't understand at all:

    Still, that doesn’t push the Psalms citation into the realm of hate speech, says Chris Hansen, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

    The use of Psalm 109:8 is ambiguous as to whether its users are calling for the President to serve “only one term, or less than one term,” he says.

    Huh?? The message is clear, isn't it? It isn't about limiting Obama to one term, it's about praying to God to make his wife a widow.

    What classy folks these Bible-quoters are, huh? By the way, according to the New International Version of the Bible, the next three lines are:
    May his children be wandering beggars;
    may they be driven from their ruined homes.

    May a creditor seize all he has;
    may strangers plunder the fruits of his labor.

    May no one extend kindness to him
    or take pity on his fatherless children.

    Very classy indeed.

    In case you were wondering...

    Yes, it was sexist of Newsweek to use this out-of-context photo and headline (there's worse inside) for their Sarah Palin cover:


    And yes, this is a totally awesome photo of Hillary Clinton by Annie Leibovitz for Vogue:


    .

    Hill District Will Have To Start All Over Again Looking For A Grocery Store


    Pittsburgh's predominately African American Hill District neighborhood has been without a grocery store for 30 plus years. A year ago, it looked like they'd finally found an operator in Kuhn's Market but the deal has fallen through.

    Kuhn's Market says that it's due to one of the owners of the chain of nine stores having cancer.

    KDKA radio personality Fred Honsberger (via a FaceBook message) -- surprise, surprise -- is trying to blame it on recent talk of a prevailing wage law in City Council even though the Post-Gazette reports that "the plan began to stall over the summer."

    Having lived in neighborhoods in NYC which were predominately minority and low income (Alphabet City, Harlem, etc.) and which had supermarkets, I have never understood how The Hill could have gone so long without some operator coming in to establish one -- especially if the City would have made this a top priority.

    When you do your shopping for your Thanksgiving menu this year, try to imagine carting it all home on the bus -- make that on buses with transfers. Now, imagine doing that every week of the year.
    .

    Announcement

    From The Macyapper:
    The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Presents:

    The John McIntire Dangerously Live Comedy/Talk Show – Thanksgiving Edition!

    THANKS BUT NO THANKS – THE PEOPLE WHO RUIN IT FOR THE REST OF US

    We all can’t stand the rest of us. So let’s focus like a laser beam on the most annoying among us.

    Panelists – Post-Gazette Columnist Sam Bennett – She hates everybody.

    Alternative Comedian Gab Bonesso – She hates everybody Sam doesn’t hate.

    WDVE Movie Guy Sean Collier - What A Snotty Snotster!

    2politicaljunkies blogger Maria Lupinacci - A true hater's hater.

    Comedy by John and Gab.

    Saturday November 21st
    Cabaret Theater – 7th St. and Penn Avenue
    NEW EARLIER START TIME! 10 PM
    Food, Alcohol, Parking Available
    $5.00
    Be there and be Theater Square!
    Go Maria!

    November 17, 2009

    The Brain Trust Errs With NOAA Climate Data

    But then again, how surprising is that?

    Here's what Richard Mellon Scaife's Editorial Board had to say today about October's weather:
    Another month, another set of data that counters global-warming orthodoxy -- and another reason why the climate debate must stop generating more heat than light if it's to arrive at scientifically valid conclusions.

    The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's National Climatic Data Center has released its "State of the Climate National Overview October 2009." The report finds that the month just past was America's third-coolest October on record. All but six states and all but one of nine "climate regions" had below-normal temperatures.

    Though it covers just the U.S. climate during a brief period and the data are preliminary, it's reports such as this that, over time, add up to a most inconvenient truth for "green" high priests:

    There's been no significant warming since 1998.
    And so on. I want everyone to note the qualifiers the Brain Trust has liberally (yea, I said it) sprinkled into the text. While they admit that the data "covers just the U.S. climate during a brief period" they're using the data to counter what they call global warming orthodoxy.

    So how global is this data? And what does NOAA have to say about all this?

    On their "State of the Climate" page we find:
    * The combined global land and ocean surface temperature for October 2009 was the sixth warmest on record, with an anomaly of 0.57°C (1.03°F) above the 20th century average of 14.0°C (57.1°F).
    * The global land surface temperature for October 2009 was 0.82°C (1.48°F) above the 20th century average of 9.3°C (48.7°F), and ranked as the sixth warmest October on record.
    * The worldwide ocean temperature was the fifth warmest October on record, with an anomaly of 0.50°C (0.90°F) above the 20th century average of 15.9°C (60.6°F).
    * For the year to date, the global combined land and ocean surface temperature of 14.7 °C (58.4 °F) tied with 2007 as the fifth-warmest January-through-October period on record. This value is 0.56°C (1.01°F) above the 20th century average.
    Wait there's a link to more:
    The combined global land and ocean surface temperature anomaly for October 2009 was 0.57°C (1.03°F) above the 20th century average, resulting in the sixth warmest October on record since records began in 1880. Similar to the combined global land and ocean temperatures, the worldwide land surface temperature was the sixth warmest October on record, with a temperature anomaly of 0.82°C (1.48°F) above the 20th century average. As shown in the dot maps above, warmer-than-average temperatures during the month of October were present across much of the world's land areas. The warmest anomalies occurred in the high latitudes of the Northern Hemisphere, specifically, in Alaska and northern and eastern Russia. Cooler-than-average conditions were present across the contiguous U.S., Scandinavia, New Zealand, and parts of northern Europe, northern Australia, and southern South America.
    This is from the same folks the Brain Trust is quoting to say that there's no there there. I wonder if they realized how close to the truth they got in their money shot ending:
    The only faith that provides a proper approach to the climate debate is faith in the scientific method. Conferring unwarranted credibility on self-interested prophets of legitimately questionable doom only clouds the picture.
    Did they know they were referring to themselves?

    November 16, 2009

    Rarely is the question asked, is our children mayor learning?

    Well now, that didn't take long.

    The good press garnered by the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh -- especially the "Eds and Meds" meme -- is being countered with this headline in today's USA Today:


    The article notes that the Pittsburgh Council on Higher Education plans to challenge Lil Mayor Luke's 1% college tuition "privilege" tax in court.

    Moreover, our Overlords will likely reject Ravenstahl's budget partially based on the probable unenforceability of this tax (seems that they've been getting some letters about this issue).

    And, what does City Council think about the proposed tax? Here's one vote it won't get (from an email from City Councilor Bill Peduto):
    Thank you for taking the time to email me regarding the proposed student tax. I apologize for not being able to personally reply to each message due to the overwhelming number of emails we have received. First and foremost, I am opposed to this tax. In Pennsylvania, no municipality can create new taxes without state authorization, therefore, I believe this proposal is illegal. Additionally, attempting to solve our budget problems by continuing to raise taxes will never work. We need structural changes or else we will continue to run a deficit.

    This tax misses the mark. We should not be putting the burden of historic budget problems on the backs of students. There is something fundamentally wrong with a city that taxes students and closes libraries. That is a true sign of a city that sells the future to fund the present. This is simply a really bad idea. For all of these reasons, I am opposed and will vote no.

    I don’t know if you realize this, but I am also a student. I am in school working on my Masters, so this proposed tax targets me as well.

    I am asking you to make sure your voice is heard by the Mayor, who is pushing hard for the votes on City Council. Please take one minute and contact him at luke.ravenstahl@city.pittsburgh.pa.us

    .

    This Weekend

    This weekend was Aaron Copland's birthday. He's one of my favorite composers. He's the guy who wrote "Appalachian Spring" and "Fanfare for The Common Man."

    He also wrote this:


    Which continues here:


    The amazing thing about his story, of course, is that Copland was questioned by Roy Cohn regarding his Communist sympathies. Afterwards, he was investigated by the FBI and had trouble getting a passport.

    There's more irony in the story of his being questioned by Roy Cohn, but I'll leave that up to you to discover for yourselves.

    Jack Kelly Sunday

    I never thought Jack Kelly would be so anti-US Military. But check out this week's column.

    After a gratuitous slap at "America's self-anointed elite" Jack heads straight towards the US Army (Note: Jack thinks that The Army is "America's self-anointed elite"??)

    The column starts out about Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the alleged Ft Hood shooter and winds up indicting the Army as "PC." His argument is that because there were so many "red flags" in Hasan's record, there was a "willful blindness" and a "gross negligence by his superiors permitted him to be in the position to do so much harm."

    Perhaps. But let's look at the evidence that Jack presents to see if all his dots connect. Here it is:
    Maj. Hasan produced a pro-jihadi slide show which he inflicted upon fellow physicians at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C. He had "SoA," an abbreviation for "Soldier of Allah," printed on his business cards. He attended mosques where radicals preached, and he tried to get in touch with radicals linked to al-Qaida. As he was gunning down the defenseless soldiers around him, he was heard shouting "Allahu Akbar" ("God is great"). His motive couldn't be clearer.
    Let's start with the slideshow. I want to point out that the slideshow occurred in June of 2007. If that's evidence of a "PC" Army, then it was Bush's PC Army.

    Anyway, this is how the Washington Post characterized the slideshow:
    The Army psychiatrist believed to have killed 13 people at Fort Hood warned a roomful of senior Army physicians a year and a half ago that to avoid "adverse events," the military should allow Muslim soldiers to be released as conscientious objectors instead of fighting in wars against other Muslims.

    As a senior-year psychiatric resident at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Maj. Nidal M. Hasan was supposed to make a presentation on a medical topic of his choosing as a culminating exercise of the residency program.

    Instead, in late June 2007, he stood before his supervisors and about 25 other mental health staff members and lectured on Islam, suicide bombers and threats the military could encounter from Muslims conflicted about fighting in the Muslim countries of Iraq and Afghanistan, according to a copy of the presentation obtained by The Washington Post.
    While it is kinda weird that he was supposed to lecture on a medical subject and he gave a lecture on Islam in the military. The WaPost, however, reports that:
    Hasan's presentation lasted about an hour. It is unclear whether he read out loud every point on each slide. If typical procedures were followed, his adviser would have supervised the development of his project, said people familiar with the practice.
    Watch the slide presentation and judge for yourself how "pro-jihadi" it is. If your frame of reference is "anything not profoundly anti-jihadi is, of course, pro-jihadi" then you'll find it "projihadi." But to me, while it's clumsy and obviously self-serving and slanted, it's not "pro-jihadi." Certainly not the way Jack intends it.

    And the business cards? ABC News reported:
    United States Army Major Nidal Hasan proclaimed himself a "soldier of Allah" on private business cards he obtained over the Internet and kept in a box at his apartment near Fort Hood, Texas.
    Know what's missing from the reporting? Whether the Army knew about the business cards. If they didn't, how could it have been a missed red flag?

    The next two pieces of evidence are actually the same story. Jack writes:
    He attended mosques where radicals preached, and he tried to get in touch with radicals linked to al-Qaida.
    First, note the use of the plural - each time it's wrong. We'll get back to that in a second. This story comes from Brian Ross at ABC. Watch what happens:
    U.S. intelligence agencies were aware months ago that Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan was attempting to make contact with an individual associated with al Qaeda, two American officials briefed on classified material in the case told ABC News.
    Ooo. "An individual associated with al Qaeda." Who would that be then? A few paragraphs down we read:
    Investigators want to know if Hasan maintained contact with a radical mosque leader from Virginia, Anwar al Awlaki, who now lives in Yemen and runs a web site that promotes jihad around the world against the U.S.

    In a blog posting early Monday titled "Nidal Hassan Did the Right Thing," Awlaki calls Hasan a "hero" and a "man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people."

    According to his site, Awlaki served as an imam in Denver, San Diego and Falls Church, Virginia.

    The Associated Press reported Sunday that Major Hasan attended the Falls Church mosque when Awlaki was there. [emphasis added.]
    See? It's the same story - and it's only one person, singular. Now take a look at how Gawker deconstructs Ross:
    Ross' report yesterday that Hasan had attempted to "make contact with people associated with al Qaeda" took over the internet yesterday and sparked a furious round of speculation that Hasan's attack was part of an Islamic terrorist plot. The headline, "Officials: U.S. Army Told of Hasan's Contacts with al Qaeda," said it all. The far more mundane truth emerged today in the pages of the New York Times and the Washington Post: Hasan had communicated via e-mail with Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical American cleric living in Yemen who formerly served as the imam of a mosque Hasan had attended in Virginia.
    And here's more reality-based reporting from the NYTimes:
    Counterterrorism and military officials said Monday night that the communications, first intercepted last December as part of an unrelated investigation, were consistent with a research project the psychiatrist was then conducting at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington on post-traumatic stress disorder.

    “There was no indication that Major Hasan was planning an imminent attack at all, or that he was directed to do anything,” one senior investigator said. He and the other officials spoke on the condition of anonymity, saying the case was under investigation.
    Last December, huh? That would be before the Inauguration, right? Anyway the FBI has something to say, too:
    In a statement, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said, “At this point, there is no information to indicate Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan had any co-conspirators or was part of a broader terrorist plot.” The statement concluded that “because the content of the communications was explainable by his research and nothing else was found,” investigators decided “that Major Hasan was not involved in terrorist activities or terrorist planning.”
    Jack, is the FBI PC, too? Anyway, Gawker comes to a conclusion:
    Ross' stock response to these complaints is that he only reports what his sources tell him. "We reported what we knew, when we knew it," he says. "I'm comfortable with the story." His problem, as we've said before, is that he has shitty sources. And he just repeats what they tell him. Which is how you get from "Hasan sent e-mails to his former imam, who now preaches in support of Al Qaeda. We don't know what the e-mails were about, but they didn't raise alarms at the FBI" to "Hasan tried to make contact with people associated with al Qaeda" to the headline's blunt, and thoroughly unsupported, reference to "Hasan's Contacts with al Qaeda." It would have been a good story if Ross had stuck to the first, accurate, formulation.
    Not saying the guy wasn't the shooter or that his actions should be excused or that he was anything but fulltilt crazy. But please, this is a big story. Spinning it into further a two-minute hate doesn't do anyone any good.

    Let's at least try to stay close to reality, OK?

    November 15, 2009

    A Perfect Fit For The GOP

    Former (because she quit) Governor Sarah Palin, one of the major players in God's Own Party has an autobiography out. And Michiko Kakutani of the New York Times has a review. In that review we find this telling passage:
    Elsewhere in this volume, she talks about creationism, saying she “didn’t believe in the theory that human beings — thinking, loving beings — originated from fish that sprouted legs and crawled out of the sea” or from “monkeys who eventually swung down from the trees.”
    GOP, a once great American political party, suffers from a nasty religiously-based anti-intellectualism. It's obvious. And sad.

    (H/T to ThinkProgress)

    November 14, 2009

    A priest, the chairman of Pittsburgh's GOP and a pro choice blogger walk into a bar...

    Actually we -- Bob Hillen, Rev. Frank Almade and I -- walked onto PCNC's NightTalk set last night along with the show's host P.J. Maloney. Abortion, LGBT issues ,and the role of women in the Catholic Church were discussed (along with some local issues).

    I think that I could have made far more specific points if I didn't need to spend so much of my time trying to correct the spin that the Stupak Amendment merely banned the use of federal funds from paying for elective abortions.

    That seems to be all I do these days.

    [sigh]

    Still, it was fun and as a former Catholic I did have a "Holy Shit!" moment when I saw that I'd be discussing abortion with a priest. I could not resist in the Green Room introducing myself to Father Almade by saying, "Hi, I guess we know why we're both here. I'm a pro choice feminist blogger." I'm guessing that he doesn't hear that a lot.

    The conversation was all very civil, but I did have to resist doing a spit-take when Almade said that the Church considers men and women to be equal and I was compelled to rejoin with "some are more equal than others."

    Sadly, I did not get across the point that there is a problem with tax-exempt churches using church resources for political purposes (such as issuing letters to Mass participants about the Stupak Amendment) and how the Catholic Church seems to only target Democratic pro choice Catholic politicians vs. their Republican, uh, brethren (think Kerry vs. Giuliani). Thankfully someone was able to make the tax-exempt point recently on MSNBC:



    O'Neill: You know that's the first thing that I said. I don't know where
    the Internal Revenue Service is, but I hope they're paying attention.

    There does seem to be an awful lot of politicking going on by the Catholic Church lately what with them dictating amendment language to Congress, issuing an ultimatum to end social service programs if they have to follow the law, and contributing hundreds of thousands of dollars to the successful effort to prevent legalization of gay marriage in Maine.
    .

    November 12, 2009

    Now, WHO Would've Guessed This?

    The hypocrisy of the RNC is hardly surprising:
    The Republican National Committee’s health insurance plan covers elective abortion – a procedure the party’s own platform calls “a fundamental assault on innocent human life.”
    And it's been the case for a generation:
    Informed of the coverage, RNC spokeswoman Gail Gitcho told POLITICO that the policy pre-dates the tenure of current RNC Chairman Michael Steele.

    “The current policy has been in effect since 1991, and we are taking steps to address the issue,” Gitcho said. [emphasis added.]
    As they say, IOKIYAR.

    Given that the coverage has been in place since George Herbert Walker Bush was president, you'll forgive me if I find this a little hard to fathom:
    “We were not aware of this, obviously, and this will, of course, be fixed,” said James Bopp Jr., a Republican National Committeeman from Indiana. “I think Chairman Steele will see to it that that’s the case.”
    No one knew? No one checked? Since 1991???

    Yea, right.

    UPDATE: Looks like they're doing something about it. From Politico:
    The Republican National Committee will no longer offer employees an insurance plan that covers abortion after POLITICO reported Thursday that the anti-abortion RNC's policy has covered the procedure since 1991.

    I'll be on PCNC’s "NightTalk: Get to the Point" tomorrow night

    I'll be a panelist again on tomorrow's PCNC's "NightTalk: Get to the Point."

    The show airs Friday, November 13, 2009 from 8:00 PM to 9:00 PM (with repeats at 10:00 PM and 2:00 AM).

    The program commonly features conversation on a wide range of topics local to Pittsburgh, the Southwestern Pennsylvania region and some national items.

    I don't know who else will be on, so tune in to see!
    .

    Why?

    .
    .
    why?

    .
    .

    November 11, 2009

    The World We Live In

    From The St. Petersburg Times:
    Marine reservist Jasen Bruce was getting clothes out of the trunk of his car Monday evening when a bearded man in a robe approached him.

    That man, a Greek Orthodox priest named Father Alexios Marakis, speaks little English and was lost, police said. He wanted directions.

    What the priest got instead, police say, was a tire iron to the head. Then he was chased for three blocks and pinned to the ground — as the Marine kept a 911 operator on the phone, saying he had captured a terrorist.
    And about that chase:
    An exterior surveillance video of Tuesday's chase captured the two men in motion, said Tampa Police Department spokeswoman Laura McElroy:

    "You see a very short, small man running, and an enormous, large muscular man chasing after him."

    The testosterone soaked Bruce connected the dots into Terrorist! His lawyer, however, had a completely rational explanation:

    Hours after his release from Orient Road Jail on Tuesday, Bruce stood silently as his attorney, Jeff Brown, told his version:

    The bearded man wearing a robe and sandals was clearly trespassing in the garage. In a sudden move, the stranger made a verbal sexual advance and grabbed Bruce's genitals. The Marine defended himself. And immediately, he called 911 as he chased him.

    Brown said the police initially called the Marine a "hero" and said the priest was "mentally ill."

    He called the police's account "one-sided" and said the department should investigate a sergeant he said made derogatory comments about the Marine's military background.

    That's it! The bearded guy was a gay terrorist cruising for Marines in Tampa a city with an unpatriotic police force all set to cover it up!

    Ah, xenophobia so thick you can smell it! (Thanks, Fox News! Thanks, Lou Dobbs! Thanks Rush Limbaugh!) For those who don't know, the word xenophobia comes from the Greek words ξένος (xenos), meaning "stranger," "foreigner" and φόβος (phobos), meaning "fear." (Thanks, Wikipedia!)

    The world we live in.

    November 11

    Happy Birthday, Stanley Tucci, Lee Haney, Demi Moore, and Calista Flockhart.

    And of course, a Happy Birthday to Kurt Vonnegut who wrote this:
    I will come to a time in my backwards trip when November eleventh, accidentally my birthday, was a sacred day called Armistice Day. When I was a boy, and when Dwayne Hoover was a boy, all the people of all the nations which had fought in the First World War were silent during the eleventh minute of the eleventh hour of Armistice Day, which was the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

    It was during that minute in nineteen hundred and eighteen, that millions upon millions of human beings stopped butchering one another. I have talked to old men who were on battlefields during that minute. They have told me in one way or another that the sudden silence was the Voice of God. So we still have among us some men who can remember when God spoke clearly to mankind.

    Armistice Day has become Veterans' Day. Armistice Day was sacred. Veterans' Day is not.

    So I will throw Veterans' Day over my shoulder. Armistice Day I will keep. I don't want to throw away any sacred things.

    What else is sacred? Oh, Romeo and Juliet, for instance.

    And all music is.
    All music is sacred.

    So it goes.

    November 10, 2009

    Bye-Bye, Google AdSense

    We've removed the Google Ads from this blog because despite jumping through every hoop, we haven't received any payment (and yes, we reached the payment threshold many months ago and yes, there are no holds on the account).

    Moreover, when trying to contact Google AdSense about payment we've discovered that there's no way to contact them -- no email address, no phone number, no request form, etc. There are Help Forums, but no actual Google AdSense person participates in those forums. Perhaps they sent a check and it got lost in the mail, but again,there's simply no way to contact them about it.

    Also, Google AdSense gives you no way to delete their ads other than going into Blogger settings and deleting the code yourself. They claim that they do this so that you don't accidentally delete ads and only give you the option to "hide" the code.

    I'm sure there are numerous people who actually get paid by Google AdSense. I am equally sure that there are numerous people who do not get their payments because I see their messages ignored in the Help Forums.

    So, bye-bye, Google AdSense. You owe us money and we're tired of running your ads for free.
    .

    More On Stupak's Amendment

    From Talkingpointsmemo:
    The letter of the amendment itself suggests that women who want to buy an insurance plan that covers abortion must not also be receiving government subsidies, provided for in the bill, to help cover their premiums. However, the overwhelming majority of women in the health insurance exchanges will be receiving subsidies from the government, and if any of them decide they want abortion coverage, under the terms of the Stupak amendment, they'd have to buy a supplemental plan paid for out of pocket.
    But that's not all:
    But in an interview with TPMDC, [the Director of the Women's Health and Rights Program at the Center for American Progress, Jessica] Arons suggests it may be even more complicated than that. One of the pillars of reform legislation is a provision called "guaranteed issue," which holds, basically, that insurers in the exchange must sell consumers whichever insurance policies they choose. However, the Stupak amendment would explicitly forbid people who are provided government subsidies from buying policies that cover abortion--and that contradiction could run afoul of the promise of guaranteed issue from day one.

    "It's a somewhat open question about how those two provisions would interact," Arons says.

    For the two measures to work in tandem, she says, either every plan in the exchange would have to be prevented from offering abortion coverage, or the guaranteed issue provision would have to be modified. "I would think there would have to be some sort of specific exemption to the guaranteed issue provision," Arons says.
    There's more from Arons at the Wonk Room - including something the OPJ has already posted:
    The claim that it only bars federal funding for abortions is simply false.
    Arons then describes what the Amendment actually does, including:
    It effectively bans coverage for most abortions from all public and private health plans in the Exchange. In addition to prohibiting direct government funding for abortion, it also prohibits public money from being spent on any plan that covers abortion even if paid for entirely with private premiums. Therefore, no plan that covers abortion services can operate in the Exchange unless its subscribers can afford to pay 100% of their premiums with no assistance from government “affordability credits.” As the vast majority of Americans in the Exchange will need to use some of these credits, it is highly unlikely any plan will want to offer abortion coverage.
    And:
    It allows for a useless abortion “rider”: Stupak and his allies claim his Amendment doesn’t ban abortion from the Exchange because it allows plans to offer and women to purchase extra, stand-alone insurance known as a rider to cover abortion services. Hopefully the irony of this is immediately apparent: Stupak wants women to plan for a completely unexpected event.
    Moron.

    Over on MSNBC, Dr Nancy Snyderman had some choice words about the amendment:
    [Y]ou know what I find so infuriating about this? I mean, absolutely infuriating? And this isn't about being pro-choice or pro-abortion or any of the hot button lingo. We know women pay more for insurance than men. We know women are restricted in the states. And now it's basically, if you're a 50 year old woman and you're in a monogamous relationship you suddenly find yourself pregnant, you better know that have an abortion rider in order to access health care that you thought you had? It is one more pressure on women. I mean, I'm surprised that frankly there isn't more outrage over the fact that ...this isn't fair!
    And she sums it up:
    A white man deciding a woman's…… a woman's responsibility in her own procreation. I mean I ... I find it infuriating. I mean, I really think it doesn't matter what side of the abortion issue or pro-choice issue you're on, the fact that they are now making health care harder and harder for women to navigate the system. I think it's outrageous—just outrageous. Kelly O'Donnell, thank you so much.

    And folks it's not about abortion. It really is about one more burden for women navigating the health care system.
    And our Congressional friends Mike Doyle and Jason Altmire both voted for the Amendment.

    Thanks, guys.

    November 9, 2009

    Congressman Altmire Responds

    From his website:
    As I said following the initial committee vote in July, I voted against the House’s health care reform bill in the Education and Labor Committee because it failed to effectively rein in rising health care costs; it was punitive toward small businesses; and it paid for reform by raising taxes, rather than by squeezing the inefficiencies out of and modernizing our health care system.

    After months of negotiation, I believe that the bill we voted on today contained some improvements in each of these three areas, although these improvements were not sufficient for me to be able to vote for the bill. In particular, I remain concerned that the House’s health care reform bill still fails to make our health care system more cost-efficient. Until we rein in skyrocketing health care costs, we will simply be perpetuating an inefficient system that is unsustainable over time.

    This bill is inadequate in two key areas that are critical to meaningful health care reform: cost containment and delivery system reform. Although I was unable to support this particular bill, I strongly believe that we need common-sense health care reform. I will continue working with my colleagues in the House and the Senate to create a bill that will preserve what works in our current system, reduce health care costs for American families and small businesses, and build a payment structure that better incentivizes efficiency, value and quality of care.
    So it's the cost.

    Y'all gon' make me lose my mind...

    ...Up in here, up in here


    I expect when I watch Morning Joe for their zoo crew to mischaracterize the Stupak Amendment as merely barring federal funding for abortion and that the Stupak opponents are seeking a "new entitlement."

    I expect our resident Right Wing commenter to mischaracterize the Stupak Amendment to be the "Government not paying for abortions."

    But, for the Post-Gazette's Early Returns blog to post "the Stupak amendment, which barred federal funding for abortion services" -- et tu, Brute?

    You're all driving me crazy.

    And, you're WRONG.

    Let me repeat for the fourth or fifth time (in one version or another) in the last couple of days:
    The Hyde Amendment already barred federal funding for abortion services.

    The Stupak Amendment actually rolls back private insurance coverage for reproductive rights.

    Stupak is really about getting PRIVATE insurance plans to drop abortion coverage -- which 85% cover now.

    Insurance companies will want to participate in the Public Exchange because it gives them a crack at tens of millions of new customers.

    However, with Stupak, if you participate in the exchange -- and uninsured folks will be mandated to do so -- you will not be able to purchase a plan that covers abortions EVEN IF YOU PAY FOR THE PLAN ENTIRELY WITH YOUR OWN PERSONAL FUNDS.

    So, again, we're not talking about government paid abortions -- that's already illegal -- we're talking about disallowing coverage of abortions from non government funded insurance plans.
    Got it now?
    .