Prosecute the torture.

March 31, 2013

News For This Easter

They're still fighting the good fight in Connellsville over the unconstitutional Ten Commandments monument.
The Rev. Ewing Marietta, a leader for the “Save the Ten Commandments” group in Connellsville, called the battle “ground zero” and said it is time to take a stand.

Marietta made the statement during a meeting Wednesday at the Connellsville Eagles.

Marietta said the Freedom From Religion Foundation, the group that filed a lawsuit to have the Ten Commandments monument removed from the grounds of the Connellsville Junior High, is “trying to destroy our country.”
For those few of you not up to speed on this story, there's a decades old monument in at the Connellsville Junior High School.  It was a gift from the Fraternal Order of Eagles in 1957 and it was a PR tie-in to the Cecil B. DeMille epic, The Ten Commandments.

It's also unconstitutional.  I can't stress that enough.  According to the US Supreme Court in 1980, posting the Ten Commandments on public school grounds "has no secular legislative purpose" and is therefore Unconstitutional.  The decision went on to say that:
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.
So let's take a look at what the good Reverend has had to say about why the Commandments needs to stay on public school grounds in Connellsville:
“Our liberties cannot be taken away. They are a gift from God,” Marietta said. “The Ten Commandments are the basis of our laws. If we don't teach our children about the Ten Commandments, someday they will ask why they have to follow the laws of God and our nation.”
Each one of those statements has a problem.
  • Liberties are taken away all the time (whether "gifts" from God or not).  Ask anyone who's in jail.  Or in prison.  You can even extend the argument (albeit it's on a much smaller scale) to anyone boarding a plane or a few decades ago anyone drafted into the Armed Forces.
  • According to the Constitution (which fails to mention God at all), the Constitution itself is the Supreme Law of the Land.  If anyone can explain how the commandment "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" or the commandment "Thou shalt not make to thyself any graven images." or any of the others has anything to do with the Separation of Powers, or the First Amendment's prohibition (even at it's most narrowly drawn) of a State Religion, please let me know.
  • It's this last sentence that's the most trouble for the Marietta.  To see why, just flip his argument over: The posting of the Ten Commandments will enable them to understand that they have to follow the laws of God.  How is that possible in a society governed, in part, by this sentence:
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof;
Unless he was taken out of context (and there's no reason to think this), the Reverend Ewing Marietta wants the Connellsville school district to impose one particular religious idea onto the entire student body.

This is surprising to me (as I've written before) as his own church's website, on a page titled "What We Believe", in a section describing "Religious Liberty" we read:
Church and state should be separate. The state owes to every church protection and full freedom in the pursuit of its spiritual ends. In providing for such freedom no ecclesiastical group or denomination should be favored by the state more than others.
And:
The church should not resort to the civil power to carry on its work.
And yet, this is precisely what Marietta wants.  He's free to preach all he wants about the value of the Commandments but he's not free to use the civil authorities to amplify his message to anyone else.

March 28, 2013

Well, THIS Is New

And what might that be, you ask?

Well, dear friends, it looks like I've been endnoted.  (For those of you bibliographically challenged, an "endnote" is kinda like a "footnote" except it's at the end of a book or a chapter and not at the bottom or foot of a page.)

And where have I been endoted?

Here.  I'm the 88th endnote in chapter 4 of David Lampo's book A Fundamental Freedom: Why Republicans, Conservatives, and Libertarians Should Support Gay Rights.


And who is David Lampo?  From the Huffingtonpost:
He is also the director of publications at the Cato Institute and a member of Log Cabin Republicans.
I was endnoted by a Log Cabin Republican/Cato Institute sort of guy??

While I have to admit that's really not my thing, I also have to admit it's certainly very flattering to see my name on his pages.  The only problem is that I now have to go find a copy of the book to see why I was endnoted in the first place.

All I can tell you is that this was the blog post that was cited - it's a blog post criticizing The Trib editorial board (now that's a surprise!) for calling U.S. District Judge Vaughn R. Walker, he who declared California's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, a "liberal activist judge."

Speaking of Cato, my friend Eric, he who writes Da Funk, sent me some links from there that he thought might appeal to my more progressive friends.  Eric and I agree on few things but he's a good guy - very thoughtful and smart.  I just disagree with his politics.  Doesn't mean we can't be friends.

Here's the links:

I haven't had a chance to check these out yet but if they trigger a conversation (even if you disagree) then that's a good thing.

March 27, 2013

The Trib's Got ANOTHER Thing Wrong

It's been recently reported that NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg is using some of his significant wealth to buy some air time to push for gun control.

A recent ad has gotten him into trouble with the editorial board of the Tribune-Review.  Too bad they get some very important details wrong.  Details that completely undermine their argument.

First let's see what the braintrust wrote:
In one of the ads, a supposed common guy outfitted in a flannel shirt, seated on the tailgate of a pickup truck and touting “responsible” gun ownership, violates three fundamental rules of safe gun handling.

As Emily Miller of The Washington Times first reported, the man, with children playing in the background, holds a shotgun in an unsafe position — to his side, when it should be either straight up or down.

Additionally, his finger appears to be on the trigger. Gun safety rules long promoted by that dastardly lobby known as the National Rifle Association (and every other safety group) call for the forefinger — the trigger finger — to point straight ahead, placed above the trigger guard, to prevent accidental firing.

Just as bad, the bolt, or “action,” of the pump-action shotgun being held is closed. Safety demands that a gun not ready to be fired not be loaded. And that's signified by an open action.
Now...let's take a look at that ad (what, didn't they think anyone would check?)

Luckily, Mediamatters has done all the work here.  Here's the image that's so offended Scaife's braintrust.


Mediamatters, doing the reporting work that should have been done at the Trib (I guess they decided not to do it - gee, I wonder why), found another image of the same weapon and the same guy.  Here it is:


You might have to dl the images to see them clearer.  But see that?  You can see there the trigger is in that second image.  Note where it is in relation to the rest of the weapon.  Now take a look at the man's index finger in the top image.

Point being, it's no where near the trigger.

And yet, our friends in the Braintrust said "it appears to be" there.

They must not have checked for themselves.  OR THEY DID and decided to lie to you anyway.

So which is it?  Incompetence or dishonesty?

There's another part of the story that Mediamatters tells us (but Braintrust doesn't).  Here's the Washingtontimes article that's the source of this "story."

And here's what the author says about that weapon being loaded:
The third NRA safety rule is always keep the gun unloaded until ready to use. This means a situation in which the gun is available for immediate use — such as when hunting and a deer could step out at any time or when the firearm is safely stored but ready for quick self-defense as needed.

In the ad called “Family,” the man says that, “My dad taught me to hunt, and I’ll teach my kids. I’ve owned a gun all my life, and I’ll fight for my right to keep it.”

While saying this, he holds the pump-action shotgun with the action (bolt) closed, so it is impossible to know if it is loaded. [Emphasis added.]
Now go back and read what the Braintrust said about this "loaded" weapon.  They certainly want you to think that it's loaded, don't they?  And yet the very same article they're sourcing tells us that there's no way to know whether it is.

Didn't they check?  And if they did, why didn't they tell you?

Again, which is it - incompetence or dishonesty?

Pittsburgh Reacts...

Last night, our friends at WTAE-TV posted a "both sides of the issue" report on the Marriage Equality arguments heard before the Supreme Court.

TAE's coverage frames the story and in doing so (though I am not sure they actually realize this) underscores the faulty nature of the "Traditional Marriage" point of view.  First, there's Gary Van Horn of The Delta Foundation of Pittsburgh
Gary Van Horn: Today I think it's been a roller coaster, up and down...
Mike Clark: Gary Van Horn has been keeping a close eye on what's happening in DC. The President of Pittsburgh's Delta Foundation, encouraged by polls showing the majority of Americans are in favor of same-sex couples getting married.
GVH: 57% of people say they have a relative or close friend that's gay.  So the country's really changing.  People's hearts and minds are changing.  It's a very emotional moment.
Then comes the other half of the frame:
MC: Opponents, though, say it's not about emotion, it's about faith.
Reverend Gary LaPietra: We have no right to tamper with what God has already said.
MC: Reverend Gary LaPietra says God makes the law, not man.
GLP: Doesn't matter what my opinion is, the president's opinion, the Supreme Court's opinion. We have the Supreme Allmighty God who has spoken in the matter. He has defined marriage and God forbid that we change it.
It's interesting to see how each side appeals to authority in supporting his argument.  Van Horn appeals to the collected opinion as shown in some recent polls.  LaPietra, on the other hand, would have none of that.  His authority is The authority - "all mighty God."  Popular opinion in a democracy doesn't matter.  Rule of Law doesn't matter.  The Constitution doesn't matter.  All that matters is how God has defined an institution.

Like this definition:
22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.
23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,
24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:22-24)
But let's get back to TAE:
MC:La Pietra says this is a moral issue, though. A matter of right and wrong, not in the hands of Justices.
GLP: I believe that there is an absolute good, and that good is God. And that final authority is what he says in his word.  That word is immutable, cannot be changed and will not be changed, no matter what laws are written by men.
Wait.  So if the Word of God is immutable and if Paul's letter to the Colossians allows for slavery, then something like this:
Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Must also be against the Word of God, right?  I mean it's a moral issue, right?  An "absolute good" that cannot be changed "no matter what laws are written by men", right?

Light the Way to Justice Vigil - Tonight!

Black, white, gay, straight -- Love does not discriminate.

Via Facebook:
On March 26th & 27th, The United States Supreme Court will hear arguments regarding DOMA (the Defense of Marriage Act). Join with us in Pittsburgh to support the repeal of this unconstitutional legislation. Support marriage equality!
Light the Way to Justice Vigil
When: TODAY! 7:00pm until 8:00pm.
Where: U.S. Courthouse, 700 Grant St. Pittsburgh, PA
Sponsor: Marriage Equality for SW PA
RSVP: On Facebook or just show up!


March 26, 2013

In Pittsburgh, it's all about the yard signs

(Source here)

It's Time.




Video of the Day (Supremes Edition)

Yep, it's time to pull this out again:

10 Years Later - Who Was Right, Who Was Wrong

Local edition.

First, we'll start with one guy who was right - Tony Norman:
Last week was the 10th anniversary of the American invasion of Iraq. With few exceptions, most of the media commentary about its own credulousness was self-serving when it wasn't simply dishonest.

After all, nothing guarantees a trip down the collective memory hole faster than an unambiguous failure like Iraq and the stinging memory of one's own complicity in that failure.

Still, print journalists are compelled to look back on what we've written, if only to figure out how to move forward with some integrity. During the lead-up to the war, those of us who argued that invading Iraq would be a treasury-emptying disaster were vilified as unpatriotic. The letters page of this newspaper was dominated by those who took the Bush administration's word as gospel.
He then goes on to quote large chunks of this column from March, 2003.  It was stuff that turned out to be completely correct.  Stuff like this:
This weekend, an army of peacemakers will converge in Pittsburgh to protest the Bush administration's plan to vanquish the exaggerated threat of Saddam Hussein's fourth-rate military. Such a lopsided war will decimate much more of the country than the Gulf War did, leading to the kind of political and military destabilization in the region that terrifies Iraq's neighbors. Who knows? Perhaps a Greater Kurdistan will be a shining beacon of democracy in the tribal cauldron that is the Near East, but somehow I doubt it.
And so on.  Tony's always worth a good read.

But I want to take a look at who got it wrong ten years ago.

Fellas like Jack Kelly - here he is from December 2002:
Few besides Iraqi functionaries maintain that Saddam has no weapons of mass destruction. U.N. weapons inspectors found thousands of tons of chemical and biological weapons and their precursors, and a well-funded nuclear development program. At the time they were kicked out in 1998, all the inspectors were convinced that there was more to find. Presumably, Saddam would not have run the risk of war by expelling them if he didn't have something to hide.
Except that in September 2002, the Guardian published this:
[Scott Ritter]: Iraq manufactured three nerve agents: sarin, tabun, and VX. Some people who want war with Iraq describe 20,000 munitions filled with sarin and tabun nerve agents that could be used against Americans. The facts, however, don't support this. Sarin and tabun have a shelf-life of five years. Even if Iraq had somehow managed to hide this vast number of weapons from inspectors, what they are now storing is nothing more than useless, harmless goo.

Chemical weapons were produced in the Muthanna state establishment: a massive chemical weapons factory. It was bombed during the Gulf war, and then weapons inspectors came and completed the task of eliminating the facility. That means Iraq lost its sarin and tabun manufacturing base.

We destroyed thousands of tons of chemical agent. It is not as though we said, "Oh we destroyed a factory, now we are going to wait for everything else to expire." We had an incineration plant operating full-time for years, burning tons of the stuff every day. We went out and blew up bombs, missiles and warheads filled with this agent. We emptied Scud missile warheads filled with this agent. We hunted down this stuff and destroyed it.

[William Rivers Pitt]: Couldn't the Iraqis have hidden some?

R: That's a very real possibility. The problem is that whatever they diverted would have had to have been produced in the Muthanna state establishment, which means that once we blew it up, the Iraqis no longer had the ability to produce new agent, and in five years the sarin and tabun would have degraded and become useless sludge. All this talk about Iraq having chemical weapons is no longer valid.
The discussion of nuclear and biological weapons is the same: eliminated programs with no evidence (and the  evidence would be easily detectable) of any restart.

Also, it turns out after the war that there were no weapons of mass destruction.  (It also turns out that Scott Ritter ran into his own rather disgusting mess - but that doesn't mean he was wrong about the WMD)

Jack Kelly was wrong about that.

Then there's Jack's claim about the linking of Iraq and al-Qaida:
So debunking evidence of ties between Iraq and al-Qaida has become an urgent task for anti-warriors. The New York Times has three times published stories casting doubt on a report that Sept. 11 hijack leader Mohamed Atta met with an Iraqi intelligence officer in Prague last year, each time to have its debunking debunked by the head of the Czech intelligence service, the Czech interior minister, and the Czech prime minister at the time. All maintain to this day that the meeting took place.

The task of the debunkers is getting more difficult. In the current issue of Vanity Fair, David Rose reports that a special intelligence unit in the Pentagon has found nearly 100 separate examples of Iraq/al-Qaida cooperation going back to 1992.
Jack was wrong about this, too.  There was no meeting between Iraqi Intelligence and Mohammad Atta.  From the Washington Post May 1, 2002 (a few months before Jack published his column, by the way):
There is no evidence that the alleged leader of the Sept. 11 hijackers, Mohamed Atta, met in April 2001 with an Iraqi intelligence agent in Prague, a finding that eliminates a once-suggested link between the terrorist attacks and the government of President Saddam Hussein, according to a senior administration official.
And:
But after months of investigation, the Czechs said they were no longer certain that Atta was the person who met al-Ani, saying "he may be different from Atta," the administration official said. More recently, FBI and CIA analysts who went over thousands of travel records concluded that "there was no evidence Atta left or returned to the U.S." at the time he was supposed to be in Prague, the official said.

That determination was first disclosed in Newsweek magazine this week.

"We ran down literally hundreds of thousands of leads and checked every record we could get our hands on, from flight reservations to car rentals to bank accounts," FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III said in a speech in San Francisco last month, setting out for the first time the extent of the investigation and its results.
Huh. FBI Director Robert Mueller said that?

Jack was wrong.

Turns out we were right and Jack Kelly and those cheering for invasion in 2003 were wrong.  There were no WMD and there was no operational connection between Saddam Hussein's Iraq and al-Qaeda.  And all of the death and suffering that happened because they insisted they were right and we were wrong was all completely necessary.

Yea, that's not really something to be celebrated, of course.

But it still nice to know that George W Bush has a pleasant hobby.

Yea, You Wanna Click This Link.

Ten Years After the War

March 25, 2013

March 25 - Birthdays

Holy Crap - there's a lot of really interesting birthdays today.

We shall proceed chronologically, first with the musicians:

Arturo Toscanini:


Aretha Franklin:


Elton John:


And some non-musicians:
Kinda eradicates any sense that astrology has any merit, doesn't it? 


March 24, 2013

When Studies Collide (Said George Pal To His Bride)

In today's Tribune-Review, Scaife's Braintrust has effectively endorsed this Texas A&M study on the minimum-wage.  They write:
A new Texas A&M study concludes that raising the minimum wage retards job creation. Additionally, the study says raising the government-dictated wage floor would not stimulate the economy. It's so simple and fundamental that even a “progressive” should be able to understand it. [Bolding in original.]
I realize there's a lot of competing economic theories on the effects that the raising minimum wage on our nation's employment.  For example in this discussion via Minnesota Public Radio, the "pro" side says it would  pump more money into the economy since those working minimum wage jobs pay for things immediately.  On the other hand, there's the argument that minimum wage jobs are rarely the primary income for a household and raising the rate too high would make jobs "disappear" and hurt the families you're looking to help.

I'm not here to settle that discussion - oh no.

I'm here to look at some of the details from the study endorsed by the Braintrust.  In the paper's abstract we read:
The voluminous literature on minimum wages offers little consensus on the extent to which a wage floor impacts employment. For both theoretical and econometric reasons, we argue that the effect of the minimum wage should be more apparent in employment dynamics than in levels. Using administrative data in a state-year panel, we evaluate each employment margin directly. We find that the minimum wage reduces gross hiring of new employees, but that there is no effect on gross separations. Moreover, despite having an insignificant discrete effect on the employment level, increases in the legal wage floor directly reduce job growth. Neither labor force turnover nor the entry or exit rate of establishments are affected. [Emphasis added.]
So what they're saying, as I understand it, is that raising the minimum wage, while it would reduce the rate at which new jobs are created, won't effect, on the whole, the current level of employment ("no effect on gross separations" and "Neither...entry or exit rate of establishments are affected").  So raising it won't kill any existing jobs.

Again, I am not here to discuss whether that's true, only to point out how much that idea conflicts with other things we've found at the Trib.

For instance this from last July:
Jake Haulk, a former Mellon Bank economist and president of the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy, a conservative think tank in Castle Shannon, said the minimum wage is bad policy.

"They're fighting reality," said Haulk. "If you force a minimum wage (increase), you're just going to cost people their jobs."
So I guess the study the Trib just quoted is in direct disagreement with the President of the local think-tank that the Trib's owner supports.  And for those who aren't following the numbers, according to the Bridgeproject, Scaife's various foundations account for about 89% of the support given to the Allegheny Institute for Public Policy.  They've given $5,331,000 to the institute since 1955 1995 (sorry for the typo).  Adjusted for inflation that's about $6,629,320 in today's dollars.

I wonder if they'll be correcting themselves anytime soon.  And I wonder how long it'll be before we see the Trib declare that raising the minimum wage will result in people losing their jobs.

March 21, 2013

The Braintrust Gets It Wrong. Again.

On today's editorial page of the Tribune-Review we find:
Kudos to Pennsylvania Congressman Mike Kelly for leading the charge against the Obama administration's all-but-certain reversal on an odious United Nations gun treaty.

Even before Secretary of State John Kerry could suggest conditional support of the U.N. Arms Trade Treaty, the Butler Republican, along with Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., organized opposition from at least 28 senators and 121 representatives.

And with very good reason.

“(W)hy would we ever sit down with bad actors and let them decide what our (gun) policy will be going forward?” asks Mr. Kelly. Especially when the United States already has some of the strictest statutes in the world on the import, manufacture and export of firearms, says Ted Bromund, a security policy expert at The Heritage Foundation.
That would be the same Heritage Foundation, of course, that's received (by my latest sifting of the numbers at the bridgeproject) almost $28 million from foundations controlled by the Trib's owner, Richard Mellon Scaife.  $28 million also turns out to be about 26% of the total foundation support received by Heritage.

Let me put it another way: More than a quarter of the foundation support The Heritage Foundation has received over the years has come from one man: Richard Mellon Scaife, owner of the Tribune-Review, employer of whomever wrote the above editorial - the one that omits the boss' financial entanglement with the think tank being quoted.

Enough of that, what about Representative Kelly and this treaty?  Representative Kelly has introduced a resolution:
Expressing the sense of Congress regarding the conditions for the United States becoming a signatory to the United Nations Arms Trade Treaty, or to any similar agreement on the arms trade.
Included in the resolution is:
Whereas the Arms Trade Treaty poses significant risks to the national security, foreign policy, and economic interests of the United States as well as to the constitutional rights of United States citizens and United States sovereignty;

Whereas the Arms Trade Treaty fails to expressly recognize the fundamental, individual right to keep and to bear arms and the individual right of personal self-defense, as well as the legitimacy of hunting, sports shooting, and other lawful activities pertaining to the private ownership of firearms and related materials, and thus risks infringing on freedoms protected by the Second Amendment;
Turns out this is completely incorrect.  How do I know this?  From the Preamble of the Treaty being negotiated:
The States Parties to this Treaty,

Guided by the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations,

Recalling that the Charter of the United Nations promotes the establishment and maintenance of international peace and security with the least diversion for armaments of the world’s human and economic resources,

Underlining the need to prevent, combat and eradicate the illicit trade of conventional arms and to prevent their diversion to the illicit market and for unauthorized end use,

Recognizing the legitimate political, security, economic and commercial rights and interests of States in the international trade of conventional arms,

Reaffirming the sovereign right and responsibility of any State to regulate and control transfers of conventional arms that take place exclusively within its territory, pursuant to its own legal or constitutional systems, [Italics in original.]
See those last two?  The ones starting with "Recognizing..." and "Reaffirming..."?

Then there's this part from a few paragraphs later:
Taking note of the legitimate trade and use of certain conventional arms, inter alia, for recreational, cultural, historical and sporting activities and lawful ownership where such ownership and use are permitted and protected by law, [Italics in original.]
Now go back and read what Representative Kelly is concerned enough about to mention in his resolution.  How silly does it sound now?

I guess he and his co-resolutionists never got as far as the Preamble when they read the treaty (a necessary step, one would presume if one is writing a Congressional Resolution against it).

Perhaps they did read it and just didn't understand it.

Which one makes them all look sillier?

I'll let you decide.

March 19, 2013

On The 10th Anniversary of the Beginning of The Iraq War

A Letter From A Wounded Soldier To George W. Bush.

Some highlights:
I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.

I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.
Go read the rest of it.  It'll break your heart.

Coming full circle

You have to admit, there's a nice symmetry to it. Lil Mayor Luke's very first scandal involved the police and an Officer Frank Rende and now his administration is up to its eyeballs in police scandals and the latest involves an Officer Frank Rende.

Back in 2006, Ravenstahl had to drop his public safety director nomination of Dennis Regan. Part of the reason was because police Cmdr. Catherine McNeilly had sent an email to city officials warning them that "Mr. Regan undercut her effort to discipline city Detective Francis M. Rende, the brother of the woman with whom Mr. Regan shares a Point Breeze home." The article in the Post-Gazette back then noted that Rende had a "dozen accusations of conduct unbecoming an officer, verbal abuse and excessive force" including coming back to have sex with a woman who was depressed and very drunk when he had answered a domestic call earlier that day. Rende was also calling off sick for his police job to work side jobs and had been using another officer's password to pick up even more work. The other part was because Bill Peduto (and others) were hammering Regan as being completely unqualified for the position. Rende kept his job.

Now, some six and a half years later, Officer Frank Rende is in the news again, but this time, Ravenstahl is calling for him to be fired. Maybe it's because this time the incident is on tape. But the snark in me says that while Luke was able to look past officers beating down Jordan Miles and look past officers having incidents of domestic violence when promoting them, this is just a case of projection on Luke's part. After all, soon he may be the drunk white guy who's partied a little too hard on the South Side:

March 17, 2013

More On Dick Morris

Dick Morris spoke at CPAC this weekend.

Let me point out, in case you've forgotten, that Dick Morris predicted a Romney landslide of 325 electoral votes - so he's eminently qualified to discuss the GOP's future.  That being said, TPM is reporting that this weekend lectured God's Own Party on a few things.

On immigration:
...Morris urged Republicans to pass immigration reform immediately. Once the immigration issue is out of the way, he argued, Latinos would embrace the conservative values, switch sides and ultimately become “the salvation of the Republican Party.”
Solid prediction, Dick.

But take a look at what TPM reports next:
But immigration reform, even with a path to citizenship that Morris supports, is not the tough sell to conservatives that it once was.

The harder sell came in his next prescription: Give up on Roe v. Wade.

In order to win back young women, Morris argued that Republicans should stop trying to make abortion illegal and instead focus on a bipartisan effort to reduce the instances of abortion.

“Single white women run screaming from the Republican Party, largely because of our pro-life position,” Morris said. Morris stressed that Republicans can remain pro-life in principle, but needed to shift their focus away from the courts and embrace polices like “adoption, adoption tax incentives, birth control, abstinence, parental notification, parental support … a whole range of efforts, some sponsored by the right, some sponsored by the left.”

Overturning Roe v. Wade, he said, was “a case we’re never going to win.”
Wow. He actually said something rational.  The only problem is, what he's proposing (" a whole range of efforts, some sponsored by the right, some sponsored by the left.") would involve something called "com-pro-mise" and "com-pro-mise" is something the anti-RINO's in Reagan's former party just simply won't do.

On the other hand, take a look at this clip from last February (h/t to Hotair.com):


Wow. This guy's good.  Good to know he's still working hard for the GOP.  They need more Dicks like him.

March 16, 2013

CPAC Underwriting

Did you know that the Conservative Political Action Conference is going on this weekend?

You did?

That's nice.  Wanna know how much Scaife money is intertwined at there?

Ok, here's what I did.  I started from this page and then cross referenced it with the info at this page and this page and then I limited the data to only that which was available in the last ten years or so (everything from 2003 to be specific) and this is what I found.

For the various sponsors and exhibitors I found, the Sarah Scaife and Carthage Foundations have given a total of $32 million.  Here's the breakdown:
  • Accuracy In Media ($750,000 from Sarah Scaife and Carthage Foundations)
  • American Enterprise Institute ($4.225 million from Sarah Scaife and Carthage Foundations)
  • America's Survival ($1.115 million from Sarah Scaife and Carthage Foundations)
  • Capital Research Center ($1.945 million from Sarah Scaife and Carthage Foundations)
  • Center for Security Policy ($2.66 million from Sarah Scaife and Carthage Foundations)
  • Competitive Enterprise Institute ($2.45 million from Sarah Scaife and Carthage Foundations)
  • David Horowitz Freedom Center ($2.35 million from Sarah Scaife and Carthage Foundations)
  • Foundation for Individual Rights ($1.025 million from Sarah Scaife and Carthage Foundations)
  • Heartland Inst ($75,000 from Sarah Scaife and Carthage Foundations)
  • Heritage Foundation ($6.6 million from Sarah Scaife and Carthage Foundations)
  • Independent Women's Forum ($850,000 from Sarah Scaife and Carthage Foundations)
  • Intercollegiate Studies Institute ($3.125 million from Sarah Scaife and Carthage Foundations)
  • Judicial Watch ($1.15 million from Sarah Scaife and Carthage Foundations)
  • Media Research Center ($2.7 million from Sarah Scaife and Carthage Foundations)
  • National TaxPayers Union ($595,000 from Sarah Scaife and Carthage Foundations)
  • NumbersUSA ($525,000 from Sarah Scaife and Carthage Foundations)
And again, that just represents just some of the money (from 2003) that's gone to some of the conservative organizations at CPAC.

So when the Tribune-Review decides to reprint, say, the Washington Post's coverage of Mitt Romney at CPAC, just remember how much money the Trib's owner has shuffled off to the various organizations supporting the conference.

March 15, 2013

Thurgood at the PPT

Last night, a few other local Pittsburgh bloggers and I got to see the PPT's production of Thurgood playing at the O'Reilly dahn-tahn.  A good play, a good performance by Montae Russell, a good evening all the way round.

The play itself was written by George Stevens, Jr. and opened on Broadway in April of 2008 with Laurence Fishburne as Thurgood Marshall.  Earned the grown up Clean Miller a Tony nomination, by the way.

Told in the first person, this one-man bio relates many anecdotes of Marshall's life - including, of course, his interactions with some of the most important legal events of 20th century America.  Brown v Board of Education ranks high in those events.

In the rare event that you didn't know (or have been living under a rock for the past 6 decades or you get your news entirely from Fox News), that was the case where the Supreme Court unanimously declared that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." Plessy and educational segregation was ended.

I was curious to see how the decision played out in the local press at the time - what did the Post-Gazette have to say about it?  The Pittsburgh Press?  Luckily, the Google News Archive gives us access to both.

On May 18th, 1954, the editorial board of the Editorial Board of the Post-Gazette editorialized in favor of the ruling:


And published this editorial cartoon a day later (May 19, 1954):


One really can't fault Cy Hungerford for being a man of his time (I am sure he was a great guy and he obviously thought the end of school segregation was a good thing) but there's something mildly offensive to me about about the whole imagery.  Seems a bit patronizing - with a little more than a hint of racial caricature in how the two kids were drawn.  To my eyes, at least.

On the other hand, I'm looking in from more than five decades later - how was Cy to see that I'd be put off by his cartoon 59 years later?

The Press was similarly pleased (with a caveat of sorts) with the decision:


And the caveat?  This paragraph:


Extremists of both races?  I know what white extremism looked like on that then - this is from the front page of the Press from that very day:


What would the opposite analog be?  What was the extremism opposing segregation looking like back then?  How many troops?

59 years since Brown is a long time, to be sure.

Stumbled Across This This Morning

Working on another blog post when I stumbled across this editorial from the Pittsburgh Press, dated May 19, 1954.  Take a look:


I guess it's just startling to see such patronizing condescension in print.  On the other hand, this was May of 1954.

March 14, 2013

Damn your eyes!

Frances is at it again...No, no...The other Frances. She's written "The Ballad of Luke Ravenstahl" which you can listen to here. The lyrics are below the fold. After hearing it, I felt sufficiently moved to create an album cover for this post.


I Grew Up In Connecticut

It's usually a rational place to be.  Great weather (mostly) and great pizza (most definitely) but it's with a profound sense of befuddled bemusement that I post this from the Huffingtonpost:
Connecticut's Fox affiliate covered an International Women's Day march in Hartford, but the cameraman seemed to think that the assignment was less about focusing on the achievements of women and the struggle they've overcome, and more about pretty much just some lady's boobs. For a good 13 seconds. And that's it.
And then there's the video:





Um...guys?  Who thought that was a good idea?  Especially since, according to HuffPo:
[T]his appeared to be no accident -- when they did a shorter version of the segment later in the hour, they reran the exact same footage. [emphasis added.]
To their credit,I guess, TIC tweeted:
FOX CT apologizes for today’s file footage error. We will continue to recognize great contributions of women in CT and around the world.
But the New Haven Pizza is still good, at least we have that.

March 13, 2013

Thurgood

Last month at the PPT it was 1776.  This month it's a play called Thurgood.

From the Public Theater's website:
In 1967, Thurgood Marshall became our first African-American Supreme Court Justice. In this exuberant one-man play we hear Thurgood’s story in his own words – from humble beginnings as a waiter in Baltimore, to behind the scenes with leaders such as General MacArthur, Robert Kennedy and President Lyndon Johnson, to his triumphant rise to the highest court in the land. A journey of epic proportions, Thurgood is an eye-opening, humorous, and uplifting portrait of a true American hero.
The show opened a few days ago and will run until April 7th.  It's already attracting some local attention.

From the Trib:
In theater, whether it's telling a joke or producing a play, timing is often the key to success.
And:
[PPT Director Ted] Pappas wanted to include the play in the season because: “It's a subject that matters enormously to me and should matter to others,” Pappas says.

What Pappas couldn't have anticipated was that “Thurgood” would arrive at the O'Reilly Theater stage while the Supreme Court was pondering arguments about whether some protections for racial minorities covered by the 1965 Voting Rights Act were still necessary.
Specifically, the discussion is about Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act and Justice Antonin Scalia's assertion that the protections afforded by that section are something of an unecessary "entitlement" that Congress is not likely to vote down.  From the transcript:
And this last enactment, not a single vote in the Senate against it. And the House is pretty much the same. Now, I don't think that's attributable to the fact that it is so much clearer now that we need this. I think it is attributable, very likely attributable, to a phenomenon that is called perpetuation of racial entitlement. It's been written about. Whenever a society adopts racial entitlements, it is very difficult to get out of them through the normal political processes.

I don't think there is anything to be gained by any Senator to vote against continuation of this act. And I am fairly confident it will be reenacted in perpetuity unless -- unless a court can say it does not comport with the Constitution.
The discussion continues, I guess.

March 12, 2013

March 12 - Birthdays!

Happy Birthday Al Jarreau.  He's 72 today.

Enjoy:


It's also Ron Jeremy's birthday today (he's 59) - but you'll have to go find your own video him, sorry.

Shouldn't be too difficult to find, truth be told.

March 11, 2013

Tell the PA Senate: No immunity for frackers! (SB411)


Via PennEnvironment:
The Pennsylvania Senate could vote as soon as this afternoon to give drilling companies immunity – making it virtually impossible to hold them accountable to accidents and spills.

We all know the oil and gas industry has an atrocious record of spills and accidents in Pennsylvania -- granting them immunity for risky activity is the last thing we should do.

Join me in telling our state senators to vote NO to letting gas drilling companies off the hook from their accidents and pollution in our communities.

In a move that mixes the worst of Pennsylvania’s past pollution with its current one, Senate Bill 411 removes liability for gas drilling companies when they use contaminated water from abandoned coal mines.  
What could this mean?   
• When drilling companies have spills or accidents, it may be virtually impossible to hold them accountable.  
• If you own property adjacent to or downstream from one of these accidents, you couldn’t take actions to recover damages.   
• And the bill is so vague that it’s even unclear if enforcement agencies could hold fracking companies accountable under existing laws if they chose to violate them.
Click here to take action: http://bit.ly/NoImmunityForFrackers

VAWA "Vote" Goes National

Remember this blogpost?

It was about how Representative Keith Rothfus lied (by omission)  about his vote "for" the Violence Against Women Act (which he actually voted against).

Well, the story's getting some national attention.

First at the Maddowblog.  In a piece quoting to this McClatchy story:
At first glance it seemed as though Republican Rep. Vicky Hartzler of Missouri had broken with the majority of her fellow conservatives in the House of Representatives last week to renew an expanded version of the 1994 Violence Against Women Act, which funds programs to assist survivors of sexual assault and domestic abuse.

A statement from her office proclaimed: "Hartzler votes to protect women from acts of violence."

“Violence against women, in all its forms, is unacceptable,” Hartzler said in the statement.

But Hartzler, who was elected with strong tea party support, had voted for a Republican amendment to the bill, which failed 166-257, and against the version that’s headed for the president’s desk to be signed into law.
Which was essentially the same lie that Rothfus told his constituents.  Steve Benen at the Maddowblog goes on to say:
A spokesperson for Hartzler told McClatchy "there wasn't any intention to deceive." Oh no, of course not. Hartzler opposed legislation, then issued press releases to make it seem as if she supported the legislation. Why would anyone think she intended to deceive?

What's worse, Hartzler wasn't the only one playing this cynical game.

A Democratic source emails this afternoon to note that Reps. Tim Griffin (R-Ark.), Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), Keith Rothfus (R-Pa.), Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), Steve King (R-Iowa), Robert Pittenger (R-N.C.), and Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) all did the exact same thing.

What happened to far-right conservatives having the courage of their convictions? If they opposed the Violence Against Women Act and felt the need to vote against it, then why pretend otherwise? Why try to deceive the public instead of explaining why they opposed the legislation?

Extremism is disconcerting, but by some measures, cowardice is worse.
The story's now at the Huffingtonpost:
When Congress passed the Violence Against Women Act reauthorization bill late last month, more than 130 House Republicans voted against it. But some of those same lawmakers are putting out misleading statements that make it look like they voted for the bill instead.
Misleading deception. Disconcerting extremism. Cowardice.

These are not good phrases to describe a politician's reputation.  And yet when you unethically claim to support a bill you actually voted against, the description is accurate.

Congratulations.

"Land of the Free"


Stephen Slevin spent 22 months in solitary confinement in a New Mexico jail without trial

'He fell into a state of delirium, developed bedsores and fungus, and lost a significant amount of weight, according to his lawsuit. His toenails "grew so long they curled under his toes," the Albuquerque Journal reported. Once, in need of dental care, he pulled out his own tooth.'

Larry Delassus lost his home in California due to a typo by Wells Fargo and died in the courtroom during his lawsuit

'His death came more than two years after Wells Fargo mistakenly mixed up his Hermosa Beach address with that of a neighbor in the same condo complex. The bank's typo led Wells Fargo to demand that Delassus pay $13,361.90 ­— two years of late property taxes the bank said it had paid on his behalf in order to keep his Wells Fargo mortgage afloat.'


A bill in Kansas would ban abortion clinic employees from ‘bringing cupcakes’ to their own child’s school

'Democratic Rep. Emily Perry opposes HB 2253, and pointed out another egregious section in the bill designed “to prohibit parents from going in and volunteering at their child’s school if they work at a place that provides abortion services.” Perry’s claim was later confirmed by Republican Rep. Arlen Siegfreid, who stated that the bill would “prohibit an abortion clinic secretary from ‘bringing cupcakes to’ school for his or her child’s birthday party.”'

March 10, 2013

So Much Wrong In Such A Small Space

From our friends on the Tribune-Review editorial board today:
Sayeth pundit Ben Stein: “Fathom the hypocrisy of a government that requires every citizen to prove they are insured but not everyone must prove they are a citizen. And now, any of those who refuse or are unable to prove they are citizens will receive free insurance paid for by those who are forced to buy insurance because they are citizens.” Only in America in the 21st century. Sigh. [Bolding in original.]
Let's start with Ferris Beuller's teacher.  Did Ben Stein actually say what the braintrust said he said?

Snopes.com says no.  A couple of years ago they looked at whether he said:
Fathom the odd hypocrisy that Obama wants every citizen to prove they are insured, but people don't have to prove they are citizens.
And they wrote:
We don't know who originally came up with this statement about mandatory health insurance coverage, but it wasn't Ben Stein. The actor/economist/essayist replied in response to a query that it was not something he either said or wrote.
You'd think a news organization like the Tribune-Review would be able to check out something like this rather easily.

And then there's the second part of the quote - the part about how "those who review or are unable to prove" citizenship will be given free insurance - is THAT true?

Politifact says no.  In fact it's a "pants on fire" statement.  From politifact:
It may be the longest chain e-mail we've ever received. A page-by-page analysis of the House health care bill argues that reform will end the health care system as we know it: "Page 29: Admission: your health care will be rationed! ... Page 42: The 'Health Choices Commissioner' will decide health benefits for you. You will have no choice. ... Page 50: All non-US citizens, illegal or not, will be provided with free health care services."

Most of the e-mail's claims are wrong, and you can read our extended analysis to find out why.

One of its most bizarre claims is the one about free health care for noncitizens, "illegal or not."

We read the bill and its legislative summary, and could find nothing about free health care for anyone, much less noncitizens.
In fact, they add that:
...the legislation specifically states that "undocumented aliens" will not be eligible for credits to help them buy health insurance, in Section 246 on page 143.
How could an politically motivated editorial board attached, as it is, to a news organization get so much so wrong in such a teeny tiny space?

I think you have your answer already.

March 9, 2013

Um...What?

From today's Tribune-Review editorial page:
Avoiding even the appearance of what Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille calls “conflicts of interest and impropriety arising from a judge's staff employee practicing law ... and especially in a judicial chamber” must be the bottom line regarding a Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice's lawyer wife/chief judicial aide accepting 18 client-referral fees from law firms over the past decade.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reports such fees are routine. And, indeed, Justice Seamus P. McCaffery listed the fees of his wife, Lise Rapaport, on his financial-disclosure forms. But that doesn't allay concerns arising from him ruling on 11 cases involving law firms that paid his wife for referrals in other cases.

Mr. Justice McCaffery favored those firms' side in eight of those 11 cases — without disclosing his wife's ties to those firms from the bench. True, no state judicial rule required him to do so. But he should have recognized that his “impartiality might reasonably be questioned,” as the state Code of Judicial Conduct puts it, and recused himself, which the code urges judges in such situations to consider.
You can read the Philly.com article here.  While Scaife's braintrust dutifully pointed out that there's no state judicial requiring McCaffrey to disclose, it nevertheless just as ditifully quoted this sentence in the Philly piece:
The state Code of Judicial Conduct says judges should in general consider recusing themselves when their "impartiality might reasonably be questioned."
This being the Trib, we can assume it left something out. And it did. The very next sentence of the Philly piece:
However, the code also says the fact that a spouse is affiliated with the firm in a case before the court "does not of itself" disqualify the judge.
But I digress.  I take no position here on the rightness or wrongness of McCaffrey's situation here.  Only the braintrust's conclusion.  In their final paragraph, they write:
But to fully protect their court's integrity — already severely tarnished by the public corruption conviction of suspended Justice Joan Orie Melvin — the state's top jurists must do even more by avoiding such staff entanglements, disclosing them to litigants when germane and recusing themselves whenever even a hint of conflict might exist.
Which is kinda funny considering they wrote this only a few short years ago:
Calls for U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas' recusal from ObamaCare cases over jobs his wife has held -- and for investigation of a donation he received 20 years ago -- are just political hocus-pocus aimed at obscuring a genuine pitfall for liberal Democrats' agenda.
And, laughingly about how liberals are (wrongly) screaming for Thomas to recluse for:
...claiming the minor, now-corrected omission from her husband's financial disclosure forms of Ginni Thomas' 2010 salary from ObamaCare-repeal group Liberty Central and her Hillsdale College and Heritage Foundation jobs amount to conflicts of interest for him.
Fact-check: That "now-corrected" omission was actually 20 years worth of minor.

Funny how when similar questions are raised against two Supreme Court Justices (granted, one Federal the other State of Pennsylvania), the braintrusts' responses are very different.  For the Democrat it's a serious matter reflecting negatively on the reputation of the Court but for the Republican, it's mere "political hocus-pocus."

IOKYIAR

March 8, 2013

Song of the Day

Brought to you by International Women's Day.

More On James O'Keefe

Hey, remember when videologist James O'Keefe unearthed ACORN and it's connections to human trafficking?

Here's how my friends at the Trib explained it:
Videotaping covertly while posing as a pimp and prostitute wanting a loan to open a brothel featuring underage Latin American girls, the pair sought ACORN's advice. The resulting YouTube videos show ACORN staff, apparently undeterred by the shocking, blatantly felonious inquiry, offering helpful hints about evading tax, immigration and police scrutiny.
Remember that?

Well Jimmy-boy got that one wrong and he's gotta pay for it.

From Huffingtonpost:
Conservative provocateur James O'Keefe agreed on Thursday to shell out $100,000 to former ACORN employee Juan Carlos Vera to settle a longstanding lawsuit. Wonkette first reported the development, citing court documents.

Vera was an employee of the activist group Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now in 2009 when O'Keefe and accomplice Hanna Giles traveled to his San Diego office -- dressed in pimp and prostitute attire -- to film a segment for their sting investigation, which used heavily edited footage to allege the group supported prostitution and tax-evasion. After the video's release, Vera was fired for "unacceptable conduct" over footage that appeared to show him advising the duo on how to set up a supposed child prostitution ring. It was later reported that Vera had contacted authorities and described the details of the encounter.
And Salon.com:
Conservative provocateur James O’Keefe has agreed to pay $100,000 and apologize to a former ACORN employee who was fired after being portrayed in one of O’Keefe’s undercover video stings.

The ACORN sting was one of O’Keefe’s first and most successful operations, leading to a congressional prohibition on federal funding for ACORN that caused the group to collapse. But Juan Carlos Vera, a former employee whom O’Keefe and accomplice Hannah Giles secretly filmed in a California ACORN office, said the tape violated a state law against recording someone without their permission, so he sued the two conservative sting artists.

Giles settled this summer, but the suit against O’Keefe is still in federal court.

Now, according to documents obtained by Wonkette, Vera has agreed to drop the case against O’Keefe in exchange for $100,000 and acknowledgment from O’Keefe that the video did not include the fact that Vera had called the police during the sting. The settlement, dated Wednesday, adds that O’Keefe “regrets any pain suffered by Mr. Vera or his family.” He has 30 days to pay up.

In an email exchange with Salon, O’Keefe confirmed the settlement and said a statement was forthcoming.
I wonder if any of this will get reported by Scaife's paper.

March 7, 2013

Keystone Analytics Poll Shows Peduto Ahead by Double Digits


Via Keystone Analytics:
Current Councilman Bill Peduto appears strongest out of the gate polling the highest among five potential candidates tested. Peduto, along with City Controller Michael Lamb, both have very strong name recognition with these voters but Peduto’s recognition translates to actual support with 30 percent of likely Democratic Primary voters saying they would vote for him if the election were held today.
Jack Wagner gets 20%, Lamb comes in at 13% and Jim Ferlo and Darlene Harris are in the single digits.

In other good news for Peduto, he was endorsed today by three elected officials from Pittsburgh's southern neighborhoods: PA State Rep. Erin C. Molchany, Pittsburgh City Councilor Natalia Rudiak and Pittsburgh City Councilor Bruce Kraus.

Additionally, Peduto announced he hit a half million dollars in donations this week.

Maybe Peduto is doing so well because he has actual ideas and "political imagination."


*** Obligatory Disclaimer: As everyone should know by now, I've been working part-time for People For Peduto since 2010.

Mother Teresa, Saint or Fraud?

The iconography of Mother Teresa took a bit of a hit this week with this report that:
A study conducted by Canadian researchers has called Mother Teresa "anything but a saint", a creation of an orchestrated and effective media campaign who was generous with her prayers but miserly with her foundation's millions when it came to humanity's suffering.
And here's what they did and how they did it:
Researchers Serge Larivee and Genevieve Chenard from the University of Montreal's department of psychoeducation, and Carole Senechal of the University of Ottawa's faculty of education, analysed published writings about Mother Teresa and concluded that her hallowed image, "which does not stand up to analysis of the facts, was constructed, and that her beatification was orchestrated by an effective media campaign".

According to Larivee, facts debunk Teresa's myth. He says that the Vatican, before deciding on Teresa's beatification, did not take into account "her rather dubious way of caring for the sick, her questionable political contacts, her suspicious management of the enormous sums of money she received, and her overly dogmatic views regarding ... abortion, contraception, and divorce."
For instance:
According to the study, the doctors observed a significant lack of hygiene, even unfit conditions and a shortage of actual care, food and painkillers. They say that the problem was not a paucity of funds as the Order of the Missionaries of Charity successfully raised hundreds of millions of dollars. Researchers said that when it came to her own treatment, "she received it in a modern American hospital".
But this is nothing new.  Anyone who's read Christopher Hitchens' book on her (and yes, it's called "The Missionary Position") already know this.

Then there's this piece of his from 2003:
This returns us to the medieval corruption of the church, which sold indulgences to the rich while preaching hellfire and continence to the poor. MT was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction. And she was a friend to the worst of the rich, taking misappropriated money from the atrocious Duvalier family in Haiti (whose rule she praised in return) and from Charles Keating of the Lincoln Savings and Loan. Where did that money, and all the other donations, go? The primitive hospice in Calcutta was as run down when she died as it always had been—she preferred California clinics when she got sick herself—and her order always refused to publish any audit. But we have her own claim that she opened 500 convents in more than a hundred countries, all bearing the name of her own order. Excuse me, but this is modesty and humility?

The rich world has a poor conscience, and many people liked to alleviate their own unease by sending money to a woman who seemed like an activist for "the poorest of the poor." People do not like to admit that they have been gulled or conned, so a vested interest in the myth was permitted to arise, and a lazy media never bothered to ask any follow-up questions. Many volunteers who went to Calcutta came back abruptly disillusioned by the stern ideology and poverty-loving practice of the "Missionaries of Charity," but they had no audience for their story. George Orwell's admonition in his essay on Gandhi—that saints should always be presumed guilty until proved innocent—was drowned in a Niagara of soft-hearted, soft-headed, and uninquiring propaganda.
Eric Blair was certainly right about that!

Have a good day, my friends.

March 6, 2013

While Dow hits a record high, this

On the Spot Funder Tonight!


 Via Facebook:
Remember how awkward middle school was?

Imagine you are a seventh grade girl in foster care. Life is all sorts of awkward. For many local girls like this, some days are worse than awkward. For many girls in foster care or unstable family situations suddenly finding yourself in school, with your period, and WITHOUT supplies is an unfortunately regular occasion

Join us at Nico's to drink beer, and make sure that no girl in our area has to struggle to find these basic necessities!

All your (and Oprah's) favorite things will be back:
Menstrual products
Silent auction
Cookie table

$10 or $5 and a package of pads/tampons.

PS: Wednesday is Pitchers and Pizza night at Nico's, so start training your stomach for the amount of food and beer you will be ingesting.

**On the Spot is a campaign to raise funds to help purchase menstrual supplies for local schools to hand out to girls who find themselves unsupplied and ‘on the spot.’ For more information about the project check out our facebook page or go to our website: http://pghonthespot.wordpress.com/ ( You can also find out how to donate if for some reason drinks, pizza, and cookies don't sound like a good time!)
On the Spot Fundraiser
When: Tonight! March 6, 2013, 6:00pm until 8:00pm
Where: Nico's, 178 Pearl St, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15224 (map)
More Info/RSVP: Facebook
 
One of the auction items includes 2 tickets sitting in the Harris Family box to see the Penguins play on March 17th, courtesy of F. Dok Harris! 
 
The big storm was a big bust, so come out, have fun, and support Pittsburgh girls!

More On Keith Rothfus And The Violence Against Women Act

Remember this blog post?

That's the one where I list the Pennsylvania members of the House of Representatives who voted NO! on reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.

Well, take a look at this from today's P-G:
The headline on U.S. Rep. Keith Rothfus' press release couldn't have been more clear: It said "Rothfus Votes to Reauthorize Violence Against Women Act." Ditto the statement from U.S. Rep. Tim Murphy's office: "Murphy Votes To Reauthorize Violence Against Women Act."

Except they didn't.

Both Western Pennsylvania Republicans voted against the version of the bill that passed the House by a vote of 286-138 last week. Just to be clear, they were among the 138 voting "No."

They weren't lying in their statements. Technically. Both congressmen had voted "Aye" on an earlier version of the bill, one introduced in the House that failed by a vote of 166-257. Their news releases explained that, but under the misleading headline.
My friends at the P-G are being perhaps a bit too nice with Mr. Rothfus.

This is his press release:
Congressman Keith Rothfus [PA-12] released the following statement after voting for the House language reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act.

“It is important to prevent and prosecute violence against women,” said Rothfus. “The bill that I voted for today increases oversight and ensures that funds actually go to prosecuting perpetrators and providing much-needed services to victims.”

“Unfortunately, the Senate bill raises constitutional questions and could deprive certain Americans of Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights. Without the opportunity for the House Judiciary Committee to conduct hearings on the Senate bill, I could not support it.”

The Violence Against Women Reauthorization Act of 2013 (S. 47) passed the House by a vote of 286-138. The House version of the bill failed by a vote of 166-257. S.47 now goes to the President for his signature.
If you didn't know the details only a very careful reading of this blurrying press release would lead you to a faithful representation of reality (something Rothfus is counting on, I suppose) .  Rothfus, as clearly explained by the P-G and as only vaguely hinted at in this otherwise obfuscating press release, voted AGAINST the bill headed to the President for his signature.

AGAINST.

The bill he voted FOR - failed in the House.

And yet the man has the audacity to headline his press release with:
Rothfus Votes to Reauthorize Violence Against Women Act
Yea - He voted for the one that failed.

This is beyond misleading.  This is a lie of omission plain and simple.

Tea Party Keith Rothfus - doesn't trust his constituents enough to tell them the truth.

March 5, 2013

Hat Meet Ring


Hail, Hail, the Gang's All!

Lil Mayor Luke does Pittsburgh a solid and drops out of the race, but now apparently every Johnny-come-lately (and Joanne-come-lately) wants to throw their hat into the ring. Retired PA State Auditor General Jack Wagner and City Council President Darlene Harris are already gathering petitions. PA State Sen. Jim Ferlo is planning to begin gathering signatures today. And, according to The Trib, City Councilman Ricky Burgess and State Rep. Jake Wheatley are feeling out the unions, but aren't commenting to the media. They of course join City Councilman Bill Peduto and City Controller Michael Lamb.

Who's on first? According to PoliticsPA:
Today’s developments benefit Peduto most directly; Wagner and Lamb share a political base in Pittsburgh’s south side/south hills.

On The Nones - And Bishop Zubik

Yesterday the P-G published this opinion piece by Most Rev. David A. Zubik, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh.

In it he addresses some of "the nones" - the 14 percent or so of people, according to this study by the Pew Research Center, who say they have no religious affiliation - though they may believe in a God and pray.

The good Bishop is troubled:
Every generation -- every human being -- at some point has to answer a fundamental series of questions: Who am I? Why am I alive? What does my life mean and how am I supposed to live my life? But barely half of the "nones" report any reflection on these sorts of questions.

That said, the lack of religious identity in a growing number of people is of great concern to me. But I have found that many people, now in their 70s, 60s, 50s, 40s or 30s, who were lost to faith in their late tweens and 20s, have too often made a decision -- without much thought -- that lasts a lifetime. They create a life mired in consumerism.

I have to face up to the fact that some of the "nones" were created in our own churches and temples. They were the children of believers -- possibly marginal believers, but believers nonetheless -- who never caught it, or caught it and dropped it by the wayside as they entered their young adult years. The Pew Research notes that 74 percent of the "nones" were raised with some religious affiliation.
While he never actually gets around to discussing perhaps why the "nones" are growing more unaffiliated by the generation.

Luckily the Pew report gives us an answer (and this would be something the Bishop decided we didn't need to know):
Overwhelmingly, [the "nones"] think that religious organizations are too concerned with money and power, too focused on rules and too involved in politics.
Hmm...I'd hazard a guess that perhaps the collective faith in the Bishop's Church might well have been weakened over the years by the dissonance between the rules on sexual morality (pro-life, anti-contraception, anti-equality) it seeks to impose (by way of the political process, doncha know) on everyone and it's own disastrous handling of its own predatory priests:
Prosecutors who have been stymied for years in their attempts to build a criminal conspiracy case against retired Los Angeles Archdiocese Cardinal Roger Mahony and other church leaders said Tuesday they will review newly released priest files for additional evidence.

Thousands of pages from the internal disciplinary files of 14 priests made public Monday show Mahony and other top aides maneuvered behind the scenes to shield molester priests and provide damage control for the church.
How often did things like this happen while the country was being sternly lectured on the civilization-crushing moral evils of condom use or masturbation or Ellen Degeneres?