Prosecute the torture.

September 29, 2012

Corbett, TANF, and The Welfare Waiver Myth

As usual, we start with an editorial at the Scaife-owned Tribune-Review:
In no uncertain terms, Gov. Tom Corbett has rejected the Obama administration’s re-election-year pander allowing states to dispense with the work requirement under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program.
Note that the Scaife's braintrust uses the verb "to dispense with" in its description of the TANF work requirement.

Too bad that description just isn't true.  The work requirement under TANF is not being "dispensed with".  How do I know?

Factcheck.org.  In its discussion of the now-debunked Romney ad on TANF, they say:
Work requirements are not simply being “dropped.” States may now change the requirements — revising, adding or eliminating them — as part of a federally approved state-specific plan to increase job placement. [Emphasis added.]
If you're not a fan of factcheck, how's about CNN?  They called the debunked Romney ad "nuts."

So the braintrust's frame is simply wrong.  But guess what we find when we dig just a little deeper?

First the Trib:
Moreover, of six states that have reduced their welfare rolls during the recession, four match work requirements with time limits, writes Elizabeth Stelle for the Commonwealth Foundation.
Never a mention of the millions Scaife's given to the Commonwealth Foundation.

September 28, 2012

More On Connellsville's Unconstitutional Monument

From TAE this afternoon:
An atheist and agnostic group filed a federal lawsuit against the Connellsville Area School District over a large plaque of the Ten Commandments on the grounds of the junior high school.

Currently, the five-foot monument is covered by a wooden board. A school district attorney declined to comment, but many residents have asked the district to fight requests to remove it.

The nearby Connellsville Church of God has offered to prominently display the monument and light it up at night.

The Rev. Nelson Confer told WTAE Channel 4 Action News that there's a deal to allow the school to use church property although they don't own it.

However, the lawsuit filed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation also seeks to prevent the monument from being displayed by the church because it's next to some school athletic fields and might be seen by students.
As I wrote sometime ago, this monument is unconstitutional.

And that's not a "Rand Paul deciding what's unconstitutional despite being completely at odds with a Supreme Court decision" sort of assertion.  It's the actual Supreme Court saying that displays of the 10 Commandments on public school grounds is unconstitutional.

But take a look at those last two paragraphs from TAE.

Depending on what they actually mean, it could be troubling.  I've written that the monument should be moved to the church grounds.  What's all this about preventing the church from displaying the commandments on church grounds?

That's the troubling part.  If it's church property, the church should be able to do whatever they wanted with it.  Point it in whatever direction they want to point it in.

Here's what the lawsuit has to say about it.  From the Introduction:
Since 1957, the Connellsville Area School District (“District”) has maintained a monument of the Ten Commandments in front of one of its schools in violation of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution. District students come into contact with the monument while attending or visiting Connellsville Area Junior High School. The Plaintiffs seek a declaration that the District practice of displaying the Ten Commandments in front of its public school is unconstitutional, an injunction requiring the Ten Commandments to be moved away from public school property, nominal damages, and attorneys’ fees and costs.  [Emphasis added.]
The confusion, I think, comes from this part:
40. Upon information and belief, the District received or solicited an offer from Connellsville Church of God to accept the monument and display it next to Connellsville Area Senior High School.

41. Upon information and belief, the proposed arrangements with Connellsville Church of God would place the Ten Commandments monument on the edge of the Church of God property, which borders the high school and one of its athletic fields.

42. Upon information and belief, the District rents and uses an athletic field owned by the Connellsville Church of God. The church field borders a Connellsville Area Senior High School athletic field. [Emphasis added.]
And this part from the end which almost matches the text of the introduction:
WHEREFORE, Plaintiffs respectfully request the following relief from this Honorable Court:

A. A declaration that the Defendants’ maintenance, display, and presence of the Ten Commandments monument on District property is unconstitutional;

B. A permanent injunction directing the District to remove the Ten Commandments and requiring that the Ten Commandments monument not be relocated near District property, including Connellsville Area Junior High School, Connellsville Senior High School, and other property utilized by the District; [Emphasis added.]
Ah - "other property utilized by the District".  That would be, I take it, the land rented by the District and owned by the Church and used as an athletic field.

I still think this is iffy.  If it's church property, the church can do what it wants with it.

Though a clue might be found in the penultimate sentence from TAE's reporting:
The Rev. Nelson Confer told WTAE Channel 4 Action News that there's a deal to allow the school to use church property although they don't own it. [Emphasis added.]
The District is still banned from pushing a non-secular set of ideas onto the school students.  That being said, the District should not be "using" church property to push religion onto its students.

This is echoed, actually, from something from the law suit:
Arrangements to move the Ten Commandments monument to the Connellsville Church of God so that it is in direct view of District students, including students who cannot avoid it when playing on athletic fields, would have the primary effect of advancing religion.
Yea, still iffy. But if The District is moving the monument to the church to advance religion then it's wrong. If the District is moving the monument from school grounds to the church in order to avoid any more constitutional entanglements, allowing the church to do with it want it will, then I guess it's not.

That last part's for the judge to decide.

In any event the monument still has to go.

September 27, 2012

Bill Peduto Files for Mayoral Run, Already Endorsed by County Exec Rich Fitzgerald

Pittsburgh City Councilman Bill Peduto announced this morning via Twitter/Facebook that he filed the paperwork necessary to make him eligible to run for Mayor of Pittsburgh:

Pretty much simultaneously, an email was sent by Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald that he had contributed the maximum donation allowable by law to Peduto:

Peduto will officially announce his run for Mayor after the November 6th election.

This was covered on TV by the local noon news shows as well as (so far) by the following:
(As well as predicted yesterday by John McIntire's AntiSocialCommentator.)

As anyone who's read this blog for any length of time knows, I've been all for Bill since its inception back in 2004 because I see him as a smart progressive with a real love and vision for this city. I feel obliged to mention, once again, that I've been working for People for Peduto since 2010. I want to mention that in that time, my respect for him has only grown stronger.

GO BILL!

September 26, 2012

The Latest On The GOP's Voter Disenfranchisement Bill

It might get blocked.

From the Philadelphia Inquirer:
With just six weeks until the presidential election, a judge raised the possibility Tuesday that he would move to block Pennsylvania's controversial voter ID law.

"I'm giving you a heads-up," Commonwealth Court Judge Robert E. Simpson Jr. told lawyers after a day's testimony on whether the law is being implemented in ways that ensure no voters will be disenfranchised. "I think it's a possibility there could be an injunction here."

Simpson then asked lawyers on both sides to be prepared to return to court Thursday to present arguments on what such an injunction should look like. There is no hearing Wednesday because of Yom Kippur.
And from the P-G:
Judge Simpson ruled last month that the new law requiring photo ID of all voters was being implemented appropriately and he declined to grant an injunction halting the statute.

But the state Supreme Court sent a challenge of the law back to the lower court last week, asking it to ensure there is "liberal access" to new voting-only IDs and there will be "no disenfranchisement" of voters on Nov. 6. A supplemental opinion is due back to the Supreme Court by Oct. 2.

Judge Simpson said this morning that he does not intend to wait until that deadline to issue his updated opinion.

"I think the sooner the better for everyone," he told the courtroom audience.
Of course Brad Bumstead of the Trib doesn't see what the problem is:
A poll released on Wednesday by Franklin & Marshall College found 99 percent of respondents had IDs suitable for use when voting.

Fifty-nine percent said they support the law, compared with 39 percent who do not. Even if inadequate IDs kept eligible voters from casting ballots, 75 percent said they still support the law.

Opponents, who include the American Civil Liberties Union, argue that hundreds of thousands of voters would not have proper identification to vote. They believe the law would mostly restrict minorities and low-income and elderly Pennsylvanians.

“The data doesn’t support that there are hundreds and hundreds of thousands of people without ID,” testified Kurt Myers, a deputy PennDOT secretary
Brad, the State Supreme Court wasn't talking about almost no disenfranchisement but NO disenfranchisement.

But that's the Trib.

September 25, 2012

The Trib Presents You With Yet Another Partial Picture

Take a look:
A survey conducted for the Trib by Susquehanna Polling & Research finds the Democrat incumbent in a statistical tie with the Republican challenger, 47 percent to 45 percent, with a margin of error of 3.46 percentage points. Like a castle in the sand, Mr. Obama’s “record” — particularly on matters economic — cannot withstand the incoming tide of public opinion as voters post-Labor Day turn their attention to the presidential election. Two national polls also released Sunday mirror the Trib poll results.
So the election in Pennsylvania is close, right?

It's a statistical tie, right?

But then why has the Romney campaign abandoned our lovely state?  From The Times-Tribune of Scranton:
Not so long ago, Pennsylvania stood unquestionably as a swing state, one presidential candidates of both major parties thought they could win.

Democratic candidates knew they had to win the state to get elected. Republican candidates knew that if they won it, they would likely be president.

Maybe Republican nominee Mitt Romney still really believes he can win Pennsylvania, but with the decision by the presidential campaigns and their affiliated super PACs to stop advertising on television in Pennsylvania after Labor Day, the state is President Barack Obama's to lose.
But this should not be news to Scaife's braintrust.  Their own paper reported more or less the same thing just a few day ago:
Two percentage points separate President Obama and Republican nominee Mitt Romney in a state poll conducted for the Tribune-Review, even though the campaigns largely are ignoring Pennsylvania and concentrating on other battlegrounds.
And:
Other recent polls showed a larger margin for Obama, leading some to speculate that Pennsylvania — which hasn’t voted for a GOP presidential candidate since 1988 — no longer is a swing state. Two of those last four polls gave Obama a lead larger than his margin of victory in 2008, when he defeated Sen. John McCain of Arizona by 10 percentage points.
The braintrust didn't tell you that, did they?  It's almost as if they didn't think you needed to know it.

They didn't tell you that, for example, one day before the Susquehanna poll, Republican-friendly Rasmussen released some numbers that show Obama up by 12 points:
President Obama has jumped to a double-digit lead over Mitt Romney in the battleground state of Pennsylvania.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Voters in Pennsylvania shows Obama with 51% of the vote to Romney’s 39%. Three percent (3%) prefer some other candidate in the race, and seven percent (7%) remain undecided.
Now go back and read what the braintrust presented to you and ask yourself this question: What planet do they live on?

The Romneys: In Their Own Words

Sources (after the fold):

September 24, 2012

Mitt Romney doesn't understand why you can't open a window on a plane


This is from the Los Angeles Times, not The Onion:
“I appreciate the fact that she is on the ground, safe and sound. And I don’t think she knows just how worried some of us were,” Romney said. “When you have a fire in an aircraft, there’s no place to go, exactly, there’s no — and you can’t find any oxygen from outside the aircraft to get in the aircraft, because the windows don’t open. I don’t know why they don’t do that. It’s a real problem. So it’s very dangerous. And she was choking and rubbing her eyes. Fortunately, there was enough oxygen for the pilot and copilot to make a safe landing in Denver. But she’s safe and sound.”
There are no words...

September 23, 2012

The Tribune-Review STILL Gets The Science Wrong

From today's Sunday Pops:
Writing at Forbes.com, James Taylor notes that Antarctic sea ice continues to set records — not for melting but for increasing. In fact, he says such sea ice “has been growing since satellites first began measuring the ice 33 years ago and the sea ice has been above the 33-year average throughout 2012.” Throw another log on the fire, honey, it’s getting cold outside...
This is the Taylor article Scaife's braintrust references - it's filled with all sorts of interesting bits if info.

Before we delve into it, let's see how Mediamatters frames the whole thing:
In order to distract from the announcement this week that Arctic sea ice is at a record low, right-wing media are pointing to Antarctic sea ice as proof that climate change isn't occurring. But Antarctic sea ice gains have been slight, whereas Arctic ice decline -- a key indicator of climate change -- has been extreme. Furthermore, scientists have long expected the Arctic to experience the first impacts of climate change, and still project that in the long run, sea ice in both regions will decline as greenhouse gas concentrations increase.
So there's a difference between Arctic Ice and Antarctic Ice.  But this is nothing new.  Take a look at this from 2008:
While the Arctic and the Antarctic experience similar greenhouse gas levels and solar radiation, each region responds in a dramatically different way, especially in temperature and loss of sea ice, says an international team of scientists that includes a NOAA oceanographer. While the Arctic is warming, most of Antarctica is not, largely because of the ozone hole, but projections indicate that is likely to change.

“While some people would say this is a paradox, these different responses are mostly consistent with what we know about how the climate system works,” said James Overland, lead author and an oceanographer at NOAA’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory in Seattle.
This was four years ago.  Four years ago.  So how is it "new"? Now let's go back to Taylor, who pleads:
Please, nobody tell the mainstream media or they might have to retract some stories and admit they are misrepresenting scientific data.
Again, guess who is misrepresenting the science.  The anti-science climate deniers.  Let's take in some more data and see what the reality is.  First Micheal Lemonick at ClimateCentral:
The sea ice that covers the Arctic Ocean has plummeted to its lowest level on record — but down at the other end of the world, the sea ice surrounding Antarctica has swelled. That’s no surprise, considering that winter is just ending in the Southern Hemisphere — but what may be surprising is that the overall extent of Antarctic ice has grown by about one percent per decade, on average, since satellite records began a little over 30 years ago.

You might reasonably suspect that all the fuss about disappearing Arctic sea ice is overblown, then, given the growth of ice down south.

But you’d be wrong, for all sorts of reasons.

The first is that the one percent growth per decade in the Antarctic pales next to the much faster 15.5 percent drop per decade in the Arctic. They aren’t even in the same ballpark. Not only that: while the sea ice bordering Antarctica has been growing slightly, the massive ice sheets that sit directly atop the frozen continent are shrinking, at an accelerating rate, with worrisome implications for global sea level rise.
Overall the ice is declining across the planet.  If because of the ozone hole or whatever it's increasing slightly on one pole or the other, does not, despite what Scaife's Braintrust would want you to believe, change that basic scientific fact.

There's one thing of Taylor's I wanted to point out.  It's a seemingly out of place sentence at the end of his piece:
Interestingly, a new NASA study finds Antarctica once supported vegetation similar to that of present-day Iceland.
Not sure what that has to do with "debunking" climate science but when you look at the study, you'll see it's about what Antarctica looked like in the middle Miocene period - 16.4 and 15.7 million years ago and that:
"The ultimate goal of the study was to better understand what the future of climate change may look like," said Feakins, an assistant professor of Earth sciences at the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. "Just as history has a lot to teach us about the future, so does past climate. This record shows us how much warmer and wetter it can get around the Antarctic ice sheet as the climate system heats up. This is some of the first evidence of just how much warmer it was."
He's not saying that we're entering into a cycle of Antarctic warming that recurrs every 16 million years is he?

Yet another bit of anti-science BS pushed by the right wing media to "debunk" established science.

September 21, 2012

Latest PA Voter ID Law News

1. Good on County Exec Rich Fitzgerald! He's using a loophole in the new Voter ID Law to allow nursing homes and colleges to issue their own free photo ID for voting in Allegheny County -- for any registered voter who wants it, not just residents and students. Plus, the requirements to get these IDs are not as onerous as the ones to get a PennDOT ID. The Kane Regional Center nursing home system and Community College of Allegheny County will be participating in this. Locations and dates to be announced later.

2. PA State Rep. Daryl "I don't Speak Mexican" Metcalfe says only lazy people will be disenfrachised from voting by PA's new Voter ID law -- just like those 47% Romney was talking about. Via Think Progress:
HOST: Are you absolutely convinced…that the methods to implement this law are effective and will in fact make sure no legitimate voter will be disenfranchised?  
METCALFE: I don’t believe any legitimate voter that actually wants to exercise that right and takes on the according responsiblity that goes with that right to secure their photo ID will be disenfranchised. As Mitt Romney said, 47% of the people that are living off the public dole, living off their neighbors’ hard work, and we have a lot of people out there that are too lazy to get up and get out there and get the ID they need. If individuals are too lazy, the state can’t fix that.

3. PA Comwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson will hold a hearing on September 25th on the new Voter ID Law. Testimony will be taken from both sides. In the meantime, the PA branch of the ACLU has asked Simpson for a preliminary injunction to block the new law.

4. The Tea-baggers are revolting (no pun intended). Via PoliticsPA:
The Independence Hall Tea Party PAC, “warned today that it will organize to defeat Pennsylvania Supreme Court Justice Ron Castille, a Republican, and PA Supreme Court Justice Max Baer, a Democrat, in their respective 2013 retention races, if Voter ID is not implemented in the November, 2012 General Election,” the group wrote in a press release.

Mitt "Panderface" Romney on Univision


A lot of people (Gawker, Jezebel, HuffPo, Wonkette, DU, to name a few) have noticed that SeƱor Romney looked a tad different when he appeared on Univision. Perhaps it was just a bad makeup job, perhaps he thought he was going to be on a telenovela instead of a news show, perhaps he's taking tanning tips from Boehner now, or maybe he really believes that he'd "have a better shot at winning" the presidency if his father had been born to Mexican parents.

Mitt Gets It Wrong. Again.

From Politifact:
After getting criticized for saying that 47 percent of Americans are "dependent on government" and "believe the government has a responsibility to care for them," Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign fired back by accusing President Barack Obama of supporting redistribution of wealth.

First, a 1998 tape of Obama surfaced in which he said, in part, "I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level to make sure that everybody's got a shot."

Then, Romney brought up the topic during a Sept. 19, 2012, appearance in Atlanta.

Romney said that Obama "really believes in what I’ll call a government-centered society," according to an account in POLITICO. "I know there are some who believe that if you simply take from some and give to others then we’ll all be better off. It’s known as redistribution. It’s never been a characteristic of America. There’s a tape that came out just a couple of days ago where the president said yes he believes in redistribution. I don’t. I believe the way to lift people and help people have higher incomes is not to take from some and give to others but to create wealth for all."
Besides the fact that Romney got it wrong about what Obama actually said (from NBC News):
Following a few hours of internal confusion yesterday, NBC News obtained exclusive access to the full-length video of Barack Obama’s remarks at Loyola University in 1998 -- all but defusing the Mitt Romney campaign's efforts to use a brief clip from the fourteen-year-old video against the president.
Politifact finds that Romney's assertion that Redistribution "has never been a characteristic of America" as a "pants on fire" lie.

September 20, 2012

The Empire Strikes Back (or Tries To).

Remember this from Thinkprogress?  It's about how Judicial Watch is at the forefront of the conservative push for "VoterID" laws and about how Richard Mellon Scaife has thrown serious amounts of money at Judicial Watch.

Well, now that the Pennsylvania State Supreme Court has issued its ruling, sending the case back to the Commonwealth Court, the Scaife braintrust responds accordingly:
Under the standard set by the state Supreme Court in remanding Pennsylvania’s contested voter ID law to Commonwealth Court, there never can be such a law in Penn’s Wood.

The high court, ruling 4-2 on Tuesday, gave Commonwealth Court Judge Robert Simpson until Oct. 2 to determine if the state is providing “liberal” access to new photo ID cards or if any voter will be unable to cast a ballot because of the voter ID law. (It was Judge Simpson who, in August, declined to enjoin the law’s implementation.)

But by the Supreme Court’s standard, any voter — perhaps someone who’s never voted and has no intention of voting but is recruited by any anti-voter ID sympathizers? — effectively can scotch the law.

The fix is in.
Yes.  They have it exactly right.  By making sure that no one (NO ONE) is disenfranchised by this law, "the fix is in."

They even try an old, unsupported attack:
Thus, the Supreme Court’s ruling is a poison pill bordering on a Hobson’s choice that will guarantee that elections in Pennsylvania will continue to be loosey-goosey affairs.
"Continue to be..."?  "Loosey-goosey"???

That's the case only if one assumes a reality that doesn't, in fact, exist.

Randy Bish even gets into the act:


Um, do I need to remind my friends at the Trib that (as USAToday reported):
In a pretrial stipulation, Pennsylvania officials said they would offer no evidence that "in-person voter fraud has in fact occurred in Pennsylvania or elsewhere" or that "in-person voter fraud is likely to occur in November 2012 in the absence of a Photo ID law."

Pennsylvania officials, who responded to the News21 public-record requests, also reported no cases of Election Day voter-impersonation fraud since 2000. [emphasis added.]
So when the braintrust posits a history of "loosey-goosey" elections in Pennsylvania or when Randy Bish raises the scary spectre of in person voter fraud in the future as a result of this ruling, they're just simply lying to you.

Just simply lying.

September 19, 2012

From That VoterID Ruling

The OPJ's already done the important blogging on this but I wanted to point out something I found that I think is important.

From the ruling:
The Voter ID Law was signed into law by the Governor of Pennsylvania in March of this year. For the General Election this November, and for succeeding elections, the legislation generally requires presentation of a photo identification card as a prerequisite to the casting of ballots by most registered voters.

In this regard, the Law contemplates that the primary form of photo identification to be used by voters is a Department of Transportation (PennDOT) driver’s license or the non-driver equivalent provided under Section 1510(b) of the Vehicle Code, 75 Pa.C.S. § 1510(b).
The ruling quotes the VoterID law, regarding that "non-driver equivalent", that the PennDOT will issue the ID at no cost:
to any registered elector who has made application therefor and has included with the completed application a statement signed by the elector declaring under oath or affirmation that the elector does not possess proof of identification...and requires proof of identification for voting purposes.
So I guess this means all you would need is to state under oath that you don't have the proper papers and you can still get an equivalent.

And that, I take it, is the problem:
However, as implementation of the Law has proceeded, PennDOT – apparently for good reason – has refused to allow such liberal access. Instead, the Department continues to vet applicants for Section 1510(b) cards through an identification process that Commonwealth officials appear to acknowledge is a rigorous one. See N.T. at 690, 994. Generally, the process requires the applicant to present a birth certificate with a raised seal (or a document considered to be an equivalent), a social security card, and two forms of documentation showing current residency. See N.T. at 467, 690, 793.1 The reason why PennDOT will not implement the Law as written is that the Section 1510(b) driver’s license equivalent is a secure form of identification, which may be used, for example, to board commercial aircraft. See N.T. at 699-700, 728-30, 780.

The Department of State has realized, and the Commonwealth parties have candidly conceded, that the Law is not being implemented according to its terms. [emphasis added.]
So there's a conflict between the two laws.  And by the bureaucracy some actual citizens won't get to vote.

But that's OK as long as it guarantees a Romney victory in 2012!

September 18, 2012

PA Supreme Court Rules Lower Court Must Revist Voter ID Law

Via Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
HARRISBURG -- The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has ordered a lower court to revisit its decision that allowed the new voter ID law to remain in effect for the November elections.  
If Commonwealth Court finds the state's implementation of the law will disenfranchise voters in November, the high court has ordered it to issue an injunction.
Via Keystone Politics:
We should be optimistic given this ruling. The PA Supreme Court did not “punt” the issue.  
Here is the crucial, predictive paragraph from pages 6 and 7 of the ruling:
Thus, we will return the matter to the Commonwealth Court to make a present assessment of the actual availability of the alternate identification cards on a developed record in light of the experience since the time the cards became available. In this regard, the court is to consider whether the procedures being used for deployment of the cards comport with the requirement of liberal access which the General Assembly attached to the issuance of PennDOT identification cards. If they do not, or if the Commonwealth Court is not still convinced in its predictive judgment that there will be no voter disenfranchisement arising out of the Commonwealth’s implementation of a voter identification requirement for purposes of the upcoming election, that court is obliged to enter a preliminary injunction.

47%

The Trib's Misleading You. Again.

Today there's two ways that the Tribune-Review's editorial board's misleading you.

First by shifting, ever so slightly, the context of a new NYTimes/CBS Poll.  Here's how they characterize it:
A New York Times/CBS News poll suggests that President Barack Obama “is erasing” Mitt Romney’s “edge” regarding the economy. If the poll is accurate, it’s indicative of an electorate’s fatal ignorance. [emphasis added]
Note the verbs I emphasized.  The first requires no explanation but with the second, the implication is clear:  the process of "erasing" the "edge" is currently taking place.  The verb phrase actually comes from the headline of the Times piece, not the text - and so it was written by someone else.

Now let's look at the Times' original:
President Obama has taken away Mitt Romney’s longstanding advantage as the candidate voters say is most likely to restore the economy and create jobs, according to the latest poll by The New York Times and CBS News, which found a modest sense of optimism among Americans that White House policies are working.
Note the verb.  Whatever the poll shows, it's already happened. There's no "suggestion" of it. It's happened already. Past tense.

See the subtle?  Scaife's braintrust is softening the context, and thereby changing the meaning for you it's loyal readership.

But there's a deeper mislead here:That quoted phrase comes from a Monday headline on a Wall Street Journal commentary by five quite astute economists, including Carnegie Mellon University’s Allan Meltzer. Their recitation of the facts shows that the U.S. economy is on the edge of disaster because of this administration’s policies and those of the Federal Reserve.
“We risk passing an economic, fiscal and financial point of no return,” writes Professor Meltzer and four colleagues associated with Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, including former U.S. Treasury Secretary George Shultz.
Ok, let's pause right there.  Hoover Institution...Hoover Institution...where have we heard that name before?

That's right, it's the recipient of millions of dollars of Scaife Foundation money.

Again, funny how Richard Mellon Scaife's financial connections to the nation's conservative think tanks are never ever mentioned when his editorial board uses them as" informational" sources.

Disclosing that information would discredit the op-ed, so misleading you is what they do.

Mitt Romney: I don't always say what I really think, but when I do...


Uh-oh! Looks like that 47% who pay no taxes is really Mitt Romney's base!

Via The Atlantic:

(Click to enlarge)

September 17, 2012

Song of the Day

Video of Mitt Romney stating his utter contempt for half the country

And, here I thought that Paul Ryan was the big Ayn Rand fan, but here's video of Romney making it clear that he thinks that 47% of all American citizens are moochers and parasites.

Via Mother Jones:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.  
[snip]  
[M]y job is is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives.
Wow! Just wow.

It's pretty much every negative right wing cliche about Obama voters and we common folk that you hear on FOX. And, pretty much everything you thought Mitt Romney really thought about the 99% -- the stuff that would sometimes slip out in his gaffes.

Like me, you may have already seen some of the video from this event making its way round the internet, but it hadn't been verified. Apparently, David Corn was able to vet it. There's much, much more at Mother Jones (and they promise more still).

Here's the Obama Campaign's reaction (via email):
STATEMENT ON ROMNEY’S BEHIND CLOSED DOORS REMARKS  
CHICAGO – “It's shocking that a candidate for President of the United States would go behind closed doors and declare to a group of wealthy donors that half the American people view themselves as ‘victims,’ entitled to handouts, and are unwilling to take ‘personal responsibility’ for their lives. It’s hard to serve as president for all Americans when you’ve disdainfully written off half the nation.”– Jim Messina, Obama for America Campaign Manager

The Trib's McNickle Misrepresents. Again.

But that it's a surprise.  What is a surprise is that he's misrepresenting while accusing the Post-Gazette of misrepresenting.

It's called "projection" Colin.  Look into it.

Here's what McNickle wrote:
The Pittsburgh Obama-Gazette (aka, The Toledo, Ohio, Block Bugler) misrepresented the facts in a poorly executed smear-itorial against Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney on Friday.

It wrote that Mr. Romney’s “mishandled response to the killings Tuesday in Libya of U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans calls into question his ability and that of his team to perform their foreign policy responsibilities if he were to reach the White House.”

But Romney’s response was to the odoriferous news release issued from the U.S. embassy in Cairo, Egypt, that was shockingly empathetic to the Cairo chapter of Anarchists for Allah while sucker punching free expression (a release issued before the violence erupted but also reiterated after). It was a statement that even the Obama administration disavowed — eventually. [emphasis added.]
See the part I bolded/italicized?  That's the part that's just simply, brazenly wrong.

This is the Romney response that the P-G criticized:
I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi. It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.
It was issued at 10:09 ET that night but embargoed until September 12.  The embargo was lifted at 10:25 that evening.

McNickle says it was in response to the "odoriferous news release" from the embassy.  Well, here's that release:
The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims - as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions. Today, the 11th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States, Americans are honoring our patriots and those who serve our nation as the fitting response to the enemies of democracy. Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others.
It was issued at 6:17 ET that morning, well before the attacks a half day before Reuters confirmed the death of a State Department official.  This confirmation was about 3 hours before Romeny's odoriferous statement.

Romney's statement says that the Administration's first response (meaning the Embassy statement issued well before the attacks) was done in response to those attacks.

And that was the problem, Colin.  You're misrepresenting the facts when you're accusing the P-G of misrepresenting the facts.

As the man said, you're entitled to your own opinion but you're not entitled to your own facts.  The chronology of events can be found here - posted on Wednesday, September 12.

Your smear was posted Friday the 15th.  If you didn't know the facts you should have and that's bad.  If you did and you went ahead with your smear anyway...well that's worse.

Which is it?  Incompetence of dishonesty?

Just for fun

http://www.Facebook.com/FullFrontalFreedom  
http://www.fullfrontalfreedom.com

September 16, 2012

Um, Selena?

You really need to check your sources better.

In her column this weekend about how many Iowa Democrats are "disgruntled" with President Obama and the direction the nation is taking.

Which, itself, is not the issue.  Heck, I'm disgruntled with Obama - though not disgruntled enough to vote for the empty suit who's got millions off shore in Switzerland and the Caymans.

But let's not go there.  Let's get back to the column.  In it, Selena Zito writes about a disgruntled small business owner:
Winery owner John Guinan said he “wanted to put a sign outside that said, ‘I can’t wait to vote,’ but I thought it was a bit over the top.”

Five years ago, Guinan and his wife, Rose, transformed an old Ford assembly plant-turned-auto-dealership into the enchanting Santa Maria Vineyard & Winery, with stone courtyards and a restaurant offering the feel of Tuscany. Guinan said it’s “the third largest winery in the state.”

He admitted his passion to vote for Mitt Romney didn’t exist until Romney picked Paul Ryan as his running mate: “Right then and there, he had my vote. Ryan is very bright, very capable, and understands the serious problems facing the finances of our country.”

The small businessman, who employs more than 70 in the town of Carroll, found Obama’s “you didn’t build that” comment “galling, but not surprising. It is reflective of the concern I had about him on the front end,” referring to the value that Obama puts on government over individuals. [Emphasis added.]
God, I really hate to do this.

According to propublica.org, Carroll County, Iowa received about $22 million in stimulus funding of which $4.8 million went in via the Small Business Administration.

According to this page at propublica.org, the Santa Maria Vineyard & Winery received a guaranteed loan from the Small Business Administration of $1,000,000.  This was the reason given:
TO AID SMALL BUSINESSES WHICH ARE UNABLE TO OBTAIN FINANCING IN THE PRIVATE CREDIT MARKETPLACE
The page dates this at April 28, 2009.

According to this page, however, the numbers are different - only $31,000.  Perhaps Mr Guinan only had access to up to a million in guaranteed loans but only took advantage of $31,000.  I don't know either way.

Doesn't matter much to my argument, of course.  He's offended at the "you didn't build that comment" even though, according to propublica, his own history supports exactly what offends him.  However successful his winery is, he didn't build it himself!  He got some help from the guv'ment.

Selena should have checked this.  But she didn't.  Took only me a few minutes to find it.  Either she should have known and she didn't or she knew and didn't include it in the piece.

So which is it, Selena, incompetence or dishonesty?

Or is the data at propublica.org wrong?

September 15, 2012

Scaife, The Trib, Judicial Watch And PA Voter Suppression

I'll let Josh Israel of Think Progress frame it this time:
Since launching its 2012 Election Integrity Project in February, the right-wing Judicial Watch has been a leading player in the push for more voting restrictions. The group — best known for its Clinton-era lawsuits — has demanded more voting roll purges like Gov. Rick Scott’s (R) failed efforts in Florida. But a ThinkProgress examination of tax filings reveals that the group has received millions of dollars from foundations tied to conservative billionaire Richard Mellon Scaife since the start of 2001.
This we've known for a while.  The only thing missing from Israel's otherwise solid reporting is the well-known fact that Scaife owns the Tribune-Review (Josh only goes so far as to call him a "media baron.") and that the Tribune-Review publishes things like this:
As it wrangles over a controversial voter identification law set to take effect in November, Pennsylvania might be the next target of a foundation that sued two states to clean their voter rolls.

Allegheny County in particular concerns the Washington-based Judicial Watch, which this summer sued Indiana and Ohio. It believes a high voter registration rate in the county — nearly 90 percent in 2010 — could point to outdated and corruption-prone voter lists, foundation President Tom Fitton said Wednesday. National voter registration averages are closer to 70 percent.
With no mention of the millions Scaife's funneled to Judicial Watch.  But in any event, did you see what they did?  They found another reason to support the Voter ID law!  The possibility of "outdated and corruption-prone voter lists"!

Only buried a few paragraphs down do we get to learn why the voter rolls in Allegheny County are higher than the national average:
Scholars suggested several factors could explain the unusually robust voter registration counts in Allegheny County. The number in Philadelphia is similarly high — 85.8 percent as of 2010, according to Judicial Watch.

“Urban areas tend to have higher mobility” as people move from city to city, among local neighborhoods or even within apartment complexes, said Justin Levitt, an associate professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. He said that can lead to multiple registrations, temporarily, under the same name.
In any event, the County can't remove those names from the rolls.  How do we know this?  It says so in the article:
As many as 30 percent of the state’s more than 8 million registered voters might be classified as inactive, but state and federal rules can keep elections officials from purging some inactive registrations for as long as nine years, local and state officials said.

Shannon Royer, deputy secretary of the commonwealth, said counties cannot clean the rolls simply “at their discretion.” [emphasis added.]
And yet, the piece in the Scaife-owned Tribune-Review is framed in such a way as to allow the Scaife-funded Judicial Watch to say that Allegheny County's to blame for it's inaccurate (i.e. "inaccurate and corruption prone") voter rolls and that the solution to that "problem" is the Voter ID law currently in front of the state Supreme Court.

See how that works?

September 14, 2012

Welfare To Work Requirements

First the headspin from Talkingpointsmemo:
Congress’ own nonpartisan research and analysis arm, the Congressional Research Service, has concluded that a Republican bill making its way through the House will have the effect of sidestepping the work requirements that are one of the pillars of welfare reform.

Let me say that again.

While launching a series of withering, racial tinged attacks that accused Obama of gutting welfare reform (when in fact his changes to welfare would strengthen the work requirements), Republicans have been pushing through a bill that the independent CRS has now found actually does have the effect of gutting welfare reform’s work requirements. [emphasis added]
I wonder if this'll get any play in Scaife's Tribune-Review.  I mean they dutifully reported this "Welfare Work Requirement" story before:
Under a new federal directive, states can apply for waivers regarding work requirements under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, commonly known as welfare.

A memo issued on Thursday by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services indicates it can allow states to “test alternative and innovative strategies, policies and procedures that are designed to improve employment outcomes for needy families.”

Critics question the department’s authority to allow waivers and complain that the Obama administration is trying to reverse reforms from the mid-1990s.

“What they’ve done is abolished federal work standards,” said Robert Rector, a welfare expert with the Heritage Foundation, a Washington think tank. “They found a very dubious loophole and are now saying whatever is written in the law doesn’t matter.”
No where in that reporting is this statement:
The Obama administration, working with the Republican governors of states like Nevada and Utah, is giving states additional flexibility only if they move more people from welfare to work — not fewer,” Obama campaign spokeswoman Lis Smith said in a statement.
No, the staff reporter from the Scaife-owned paper simply quotes an "expert" from the Scaife-funded Heritage Foundation (with no mention of Scaife's millions to Heritage, of course) and lets that stand as "the truth."

And this is from the news division at the Trib.

September 13, 2012

All Ye Rogues, Strumpets and Pestilent Hordes: State Supreme Court Hearing on PA Voter ID Law is Today!

PCN will be live televising and live streaming today's 9:30 AM Supreme Court of Pennsylvania's oral argument session, which includes hearings on the state’s second legislative redistricting plan and the Voter ID (suppression) law (Channel 48 on Comcast Cable).

This was the law that a PA judge upheld largely based on a bigoted 1869 case called Patterson v. Barlow. Via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Amazingly, in Patterson the Supreme Court went out of its way to clarify -- and endorse -- the law's biased approach. The opinion justifies a tougher process for Philadelphia voters because "rogues and strumpets do not nightly traverse the deserted highways of the farmer. Low inns, restaurants, sailors' boarding-houses and houses of ill fame do not abound in rural precincts, ready to pour out on election day their pestilent hordes."  
For good measure, the court explained that to overturn the tighter procedures for Philadelphia voters "would be to place the vicious vagrant, the wandering Arabs, the Tartar hordes of our large cities, on a level with the virtuous and good man."
These days, we simply call them Obama voters:


Even if the Court were to overturn the law -- which they won't -- we have this to worry about:
True the Vote and other Tea Party-affiliated groups are reportedly recruiting 1 million volunteers to object to the qualifications of voters in targeted communities on and before Election Day, according to the study. These volunteers are being rallied to block, in their own words, the “illegal alien vote” and “the food stamp army.” Their stated goal is to make the experience of voting “like driving and seeing the police behind you.”
If you need information on the new Voter Suppression Law, or if you need help in getting ID, please check out the following:
http://www.866ourvote.org/  
http://www.seventy.org/Elections_Voter_ID.aspx  
http://www.aclupa.org/issues/votingissues/voterid/
Or if all else fails, better hope your kid is a celebrity!

Justice Delayed, As They Say...

And yet yesterday:
The Connellsville Area school board voted to unanimously tonight to delay making any decisions about what to do with a controversial Ten Commandments monument.
But the only real decision to be made is when to move it because keeping it on school grounds is clearly unconstitutional.

So it has to be moved.

Let's dig deeper into why the placement of the monument is unconstitutional.

Here, again, is Stone v Graham:
The pre-eminent purpose for posting the Ten Commandments on schoolroom walls is plainly religious in nature. The Ten Commandments are undeniably a sacred text in the Jewish and Christian faiths, and no legislative recitation of a supposed secular purpose can blind us to that fact. The Commandments do not confine themselves to arguably secular matters, such as honoring one's parents, killing or murder, adultery, stealing, false witness, and covetousness. See Exodus 20: 12-17; Deuteronomy 5: 16-21. Rather, the first part of the Commandments concerns the religious duties of believers: worshipping the Lord God alone, avoiding idolatry, not using the Lord's name in vain, and observing the Sabbath Day. See Exodus 20: 1-11; Deuteronomy 5: 6-15.

This is not a case in which the Ten Commandments are integrated into the school curriculum, where the Bible may constitutionally be used in an appropriate study of history, civilization, ethics, comparative religion, or the like. Posting of religious texts on the wall serves no such educational function. If the posted copies of the Ten Commandments are to have any effect at all, it will be to induce the schoolchildren to read, meditate upon, perhaps to venerate and obey, the Commandments. However desirable this might be as a matter of private devotion, it is not a permissible state objective under the Establishment Clause.
Not permissible.

This was decided in 1980 - before many of you were even born.

8

 
Staying true to tradition, I have once again failed to acknowledge this blog's birthday on it's birthday (September 6). Eight years ago, this blog had only two readers -- David and I. A big thank you to all of the rest of you who've joined us! 

The Many Smirks of Mitt Romney


Yes, Mitt Romney has doubled down on his craven and falsely-based smears aimed at the President and embassy workers. Yes, Mitt Romney started his attacks during an international terrorist attack while breaking his own 'no political attacks on 9/11' promise. Yes, from the safety of the US, he criticized Americans in a highly dangerous place who were trying to diplomatically diffuse a highly dangerous situation (kind of like how he criticized Vietnam War critics and then dodged the draft to go live in Paris). And yes, in his own talking points he "rejects" the very same movie he condemns others for criticizing and says "There is no room for religious hatred or intolerance" -- just as they did. But to top it off, he smirks his way through his presser yesterday. Smirks constantly while taking questions about an international terrorist attack that led to the deaths of four Americans. And smirks as he leaves the press conference.

What a fucking prick.






September 12, 2012

Quote of the Day

The quote of the day goes to Pittsburgh City Councilor Natalia Rudiak commenting in today's Post Agenda meeting on the difficulty registered voters in Pennsylvania are facing going through PennDOT trying to get ID which complies with the new PA Voter ID law:
"PennDOT is not the Dept. of Voting, it's not the Dept. of Democracy."
ABC News did a story yesterday which backs her up. It begins with this:
Two government offices, three hour-long lines, two 78-mile trips, two week-long waiting periods, four forms of identity and two signed affidavits later, Pennsylvanians will be allowed to vote.

Press Conference and Hearing about the Pennsylvania Voter ID Law

Via press release:
City Councilor Natalia Rudiak Rallies Citywide Groups to Fight Against Voter Suppression

Pittsburgh-- On Wednesday, September 12, 2012, Councilwoman Rudiak will host a press conference and hearing regarding Act 18 of 2012, the Pennsylvania “Voter ID” Law. Speakers will provide national and historic context on this law, as well as an explanation of what Pennsylvanians need in order to vote in November’s election, and how to get it.

What: Press Conference and Hearing about the Pennsylvania Voter ID Law
Date: Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Time: 12:45 PM
Where: City Council Chambers, 414 Grant Street, 5th Floor

Invited guests include:
  • ACLU
  • Pittsburgh United
  • Black Political Empowerment Project
  • Alliance of Retired Americans
  • Epilepsy Foundation
  • City residents impacted by new law
  • “Our democracy should not be a confusing, bureaucratic nightmare.” Rudiak said. “Unfortunately, I have heard from a number of residents across the city who want to vote, as they always have, but are not sure if they will be stopped at the polls this November 6. We need to move forward with real election reform, and leave costly partisan attempts to disenfranchise voters in the history books, where they belong.”

    Though an estimated 100,000 registered voters in Allegheny County do not have PennDOT issued photo identification cards, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has budgeted funding for only 75,000 “free” voter ID cards statewide.
    Watch live at http://pittsburgh.granicus.com/ViewPublisher.php?view_id=2  or on Channel 44 on Verizon (Channel 13 on Comcast???)

    Disgraceful Romney

    In case you missed it:
    A State Department officer was killed after armed protesters stormed the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi, Libya, furious about an amateur video that has been viewed as insulting to the Prophet Muhammad.
    About that video, here's the AP:
    The protest was a result of outrage over a movie being promoted by an anti-Muslim Egyptian Christian campaigner in the United States, clips of which are available on YouTube and dubbed in Egyptian Arabic. The video depicts Muhammad as a fraud, and shows him having sex and calling for massacres. Muslims find it offensive to depict Muhammad at all, much less in an insulting way.
    The Wall Street Journal reported:
    In the hours leading up to the rally in Cairo, the U.S. Embassy there invoked the First Amendment rights to free speech, but said the film constituted an abuse of those rights.

    "The Embassy of the United States in Cairo condemns the continuing efforts by misguided individuals to hurt the religious feelings of Muslims—as we condemn efforts to offend believers of all religions," it said in a statement. "Respect for religious beliefs is a cornerstone of American democracy. We firmly reject the actions by those who abuse the universal right of free speech to hurt the religious beliefs of others." [emphasis added]
    So how does the Romney Campaign respond to the death of a State Department officer?

    By smearing the Obama Administration with a lie:
    "I’m outraged by the attacks on American diplomatic missions in Libya and Egypt and by the death of an American consulate worker in Benghazi,” Romney said. “It’s disgraceful that the Obama Administration’s first response was not to condemn attacks on our diplomatic missions, but to sympathize with those who waged the attacks.”
    It's simple, the statement out of the embassy in Cairo was not made in response to the attacks - but to the youtube film.

    It's bad enough to politicize the death of a State Department officer, but to smear while doing it is even worse.  Everything that follows from the Romney Campaign is a lie.

    A disgraceful lie.

    September 11, 2012

    Dear Mayor Luke Frackenstahl,


    Via Pittsburgh BusinessTimes:
    As the state Supreme Court considers arguments in favor of statewide zoning for Marcellus Shale exploration, Pittsburgh’s Mayor Luke Ravenstahl encouraged people to contact City Council and ask its members to overturn a citywide ban on fracking that sends the wrong message to industry, he said Monday.  
    Ravenstahl, along with every other speaker, was extolling the opportunities of shale development at the Consumer Energy Alliance’s 2012 Pennsylvania Energy and Manufacturing Summit, when the topic came to Act 13.

    Dear Mayor Luke Ravenenstahl,

    You're wrong. The message sent by Pittsburgh City Council's ban on fracking in the city of Pittsburgh is exactly the right message:

    WE DON'T WANT FRACKING IN THE CITY OF PITTSBURGH!

    More's the pity that you simply don't want to hear that message.

    Sincerely,
    Pittsburghers Who Care About Our Environment

    9/11 Remembered...

    The OPJ and I don't usually write about the same thing, but today is different.

    This is a big deal.

    Hey, you remember that Presidential Daily Briefing from August 6, 2001?

    The one that the CIA was all shpilkes over (it was titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike US") and the one that after he was briefed on it Bush tossed it aside with a casual "You've covered your ass, now."

    Yea, that one.

    Turns out, there's more to the story:
    On April 10, 2004, the Bush White House declassified that daily brief — and only that daily brief — in response to pressure from the 9/11 Commission, which was investigating the events leading to the attack. Administration officials dismissed the document’s significance, saying that, despite the jaw-dropping headline, it was only an assessment of Al Qaeda’s history, not a warning of the impending attack. While some critics considered that claim absurd, a close reading of the brief showed that the argument had some validity.

    That is, unless it was read in conjunction with the daily briefs preceding Aug. 6, the ones the Bush administration would not release. While those documents are still not public, I have read excerpts from many of them, along with other recently declassified records, and come to an inescapable conclusion: the administration’s reaction to what Mr. Bush was told in the weeks before that infamous briefing reflected significantly more negligence than has been disclosed. In other words, the Aug. 6 document, for all of the controversy it provoked, is not nearly as shocking as the briefs that came before it. [emphasis added.]
    This is from Kurt Eichenwald, reporter from Vanity Fair writing in the New York Times.

    For years the Bush Administration said they'd not been told any details of any specific threat, right?  Eichenwald points out:
    The direct warnings to Mr. Bush about the possibility of a Qaeda attack began in the spring of 2001. By May 1, the Central Intelligence Agency told the White House of a report that “a group presently in the United States” was planning a terrorist operation. Weeks later, on June 22, the daily brief reported that Qaeda strikes could be “imminent,” although intelligence suggested the time frame was flexible.
    The neoconservatives then in command of the Pentagon, Eichewald adds, thought that it was a disinformation campaign by Bin Laden - a deflection away from his BFF, Saddam Hussein.  The grownups at the CIA disagreed but the neocons won out anyway.

    There were more warnings that summer, warnings that were dismissed.  And some very bad things followed.

    Something else we should remember whenever we hear that "Bush Kept Us Safe."

    There's stupid and then there's STUPID

    The stupid would be the recently polled 15% of Ohio Republicans who said Mitt Romney deserves more credit for killing Osama bin Laden than does President Barack Obama and the 47% who weren't sure if Romney or Obama deserved more credit.

    The STUPID would be President George W. Bush and the neocons in his administration who it is now revealed didn't just ignore the infamous August 6, 2001 presidential daily briefing entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S,” but also numerous direct warnings about a planned Al Qaeda attack that began in the spring of 2001. There were multiple warnings that were given to the Bush Administration in May 2001, June 2001, and July 2001. All ignored. Via The New York Times:
    Yet, the White House failed to take significant action. Officials at the Counterterrorism Center of the C.I.A. grew apoplectic. On July 9, at a meeting of the counterterrorism group, one official suggested that the staff put in for a transfer so that somebody else would be responsible when the attack took place, two people who were there told me in interviews. The suggestion was batted down, they said, because there would be no time to train anyone else.
    In both cases, perhaps "stupid" is not the right word. Willful ignorance because the facts at hand do not fit their preconceived beliefs is more like it.

    September 10, 2012

    A Proper Home For The Ten Commandments

    It's a Church, of course.

    From the Trib:
    If members of the Connellsville Church of God have their way, not only will they accept a Ten Commandments monument from a public school, they will display it on the edge of their property and light it up at night for all to see.
    It'll now be on church property, where it's supposed to be.

    Now about the still unconstitutional Ten Commandments monument in New Kensington...when can it be moved?

    September 9, 2012

    Thou Shalt Not Violate The Constitution

    There's another unconstitutional Ten Commandments monument in the area?

    A few months ago I wrote about the Ten Commandments monument at the High School in New Kensington, PA.  By the way, that monument has yet to be been taken down - even though it still violates the Constitution.

    New Kensington should do the right thing, respect the religious freedom of all its citizens by not taking any sides - New Kensington needs to remove the monument because it's unconstitutional.

    Just like the one in Connellsville:
    Some people in the small Fayette County town of Connellsville misjudged a 55-year-old monument at the junior high -- if they saw it at all.

    Several thought the 5-foot-tall slab, located outdoors near the auditorium, was a war memorial. Others, including a former teacher at the school, didn't know it was there.

    But somebody noticed, enough to contact a Pittsburgh law firm last month and demand the school district remove the Ten Commandments.

    They said it violates the constitutional requirement of a separation between church and state.
    Well, it does - even if no one's noticed it in years.

    I am not sure if she knows this, but Molly Born, the staff writer who wrote that in the P-G, stumbled over an interesting piece of history:
    Now the marble monument, which district superintendent Dan Lujetic likened to the stone tablets in the 1956 Charlton Heston movie of the same name, is covered by plywood and will have a new home off school property in the next few weeks. [emphasis added.]
    Does anyone know what Born's stumbled over?

    How about the fact that the now-unconstitutional monuments were, in fact, a publicity stunt for that very same Charlton Heston movie?  From Moment Magazine:
    To promote the film, DeMille—who served on the board of the anti-Communist National Committee for a Free Europe—teamed up with a Minnesota judge named E.J. Ruegemer, a member of a Christian service organization called the Fraternal Order of Eagles (FOE). Starting in 1951, Ruegemer had spearheaded a movement to distribute copies of the Ten Commandments for public placement in courtrooms and schools, believing that “if mankind would heed those Ten, it would be a better world in which to live.” At least 10,000 prints had already been distributed when DeMille joined the cause, helping dozens of local FOE groups raise money to erect statues of the Ten Commandments. Ruegemer, DeMille, Heston and Brynner attended dedications for many of the 150 granite Ten Commandment monoliths that were constructed in 34 states and Canada. It was great publicity for the film, which grossed around $80 million and remains the fifth-highest grossing film of all time in inflation-adjusted terms. [emphasis added.]
    This is confirmed by T. Jeffry Gunn in his book, Spiritual Weapons.  In fact, to help pay for the monuments, Gunn writes, Paramount Pictures took some of the proceeds from the tickets to the movie sold by FOE members and funneled it back to them.

    Here's what the United States Supreme Court wrote in 1980:
    Held:

    A Kentucky statute requiring the posting of a copy of the Ten Commandments, purchased with private contributions, on the wall of each public school classroom in the State has no secular legislative purpose, and therefore is unconstitutional as violating the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment. While the state legislature required the notation in small print at the bottom of each display that "[t]he secular application of the Ten Commandments is clearly seen in its adoption as the fundamental legal code of Western Civilization and the Common Law of the United States," such an "avowed" secular purpose is not sufficient to avoid conflict with the First Amendment. The pre-eminent purpose of posting the Ten Commandments, which do not confine themselves to arguably secular matters, is plainly religious in nature, and the posting serves no constitutional educational function. Cf. Abington School District v. Schempp, 374 U.S. 203 . That the posted copies are financed by voluntary private contributions is immaterial, for the mere posting under the auspices of the legislature provides the official support of the state government that the Establishment Clause prohibits. Nor is it significant that the Ten Commandments are merely posted rather than read aloud, for it is no defense to urge that the religious practices may be relatively minor encroachments on the First Amendment. [Emphases added.]
    The Constitution needs to be defended - this monument (as well as the one in New Kensington and wherever else they stand  on public school property) rightly needs to be removed.

    A Republican Called For A Stimulus Plan

    An astute reader emailed this link in a day or so ago.  Written in late 2008, it's from the website of some left-leaning periodical called The National Review and it was written by some former Republican Governor of Massachusetts named Romney.

    Here's the opening:
    What is Washington waiting for? The inauguration is less than five weeks away: At the rate we’ve been going, another 500,000 jobs will be lost by then. The downward spiral is deepening and accelerating: Congress and the president must act now.

    American families have lost about $11 trillion in net worth as securities and home values have plummeted. This translates into about $400 billion less annual consumer spending, net of government safety-net funding. Exports won’t grow to make this up, as the dollar has strengthened with investors worldwide clamoring for its relative security. Investments won’t make up the gap either, as bank loans and secondary-market financing have shrunk and as fresh equity is virtually non-existent.

    So this is surely the time for economic stimulus.
    This is the same Mitt Romney who said this recently:
    At a campaign event in New Hampshire on Friday, Mitt Romney once again sharply condemned the stimulus package passed during the president's first month in office, calling it "the largest one-time careless expenditure of government money in American history."
    I know what you're saying (I do, really - I'm clairvoyant that way). You're saying that maybe the stimulus package Romney begged for in 2008 is fundamentally different from the one passed in 2009.

    Let's see what he called for.  Mitt wrote:
    The first is that tax cuts are part of the solution.
    Hey, did you know that there were almost $300 billion in tax incentives attached to the ARRA?

    Mitt also wrote:
    On the spending front, infrastructure projects should be a high priority.
    There was $29 billion in infrastructure funding.

    We could do this all day, I guess.  Mitt called for an economic stimulus package, one was passed, and now that it's politically expedient, he's against it.

    September 7, 2012

    September 7

    Whilst y'inz are recuperating from the conventions, here's something different.

    Today is September 7.  Born on this day are not one but TWO Rock and Roll Icons.

    Buddy Holly (born 1936):


    Chrissie Hynde (born 1951):

    Happy Friday, everyone!