Democracy Has Prevailed.

February 28, 2006

Democracy for Pittsburgh March Meetup on Wednesday

REAL VOTING REFORM / END THE WAR are two of the issues that Democracy for Pittsburgh will be working on at their March 1st meeting.


Richard King from PA-Verified Voting will be speaking on the importance of supporting the passage of SB977 and what DfPgh can do to help this effort.

If we can't get our votes counted right, WE'RE ALL WASTING OUR TIME!


Plans will be made for DfPgh's participation in the March 18th (Merton Center sponsored) Anti-War March & Rally.

R.S.V.P. at:

DfP Meetup Info:
Wednesday March 1, 2006
7:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Event Location: Mario's South Side Saloon
Street: 1514 E Carson St (upstairs)
City, State, Zip: Pittsburgh, PA 15203
Phone: 412-381-5610

February 27, 2006

More low poll ratings for Bush

Take a look.
The latest CBS News poll finds President Bush's approval rating has fallen to an all-time low of 34 percent, while pessimism about the Iraq war has risen to a new high.
Oh, dear.

Here's the data (pdf file).

Some more interesting stuff. Bush's handling of the war on terror gets really bad numbers - 43/50 per cent approval/disapproval. If this poll is accurate, it means that right now, more people disapprove of our glorious leader's handling of the war on terror than approve.

So if you approve of the way Bush is handling the war on terror, you're in the minority. How does it feel?

The rest of the report is just as bad.

Go read it.

Harper's Magazine makes "The Case for Impeachment"

The Case for Impeachment

Why we can no longer afford George W. Bush

Posted on Monday, February 27, 2006. An excerpt from an essay in the March 2006 Harper's Magazine. By Lewis H. Lapham.Sources

A country is not only what it does—it is also what it puts up with, what it tolerates. —Kurt Tucholsky
On December 18 of last year, Congressman John Conyers Jr. (D., Mich.) introduced into the House of Representatives a resolution inviting it to form “a select committee to investigate the Administration's intent to go to war before congressional authorization, manipulation of pre-war intelligence, encouraging and countenancing torture, retaliating against critics, and to make recommendations regarding grounds for possible impeachment.” Although buttressed two days previously by the news of the National Security Agency's illegal surveillance of the American citizenry, the request attracted little or no attention in the press—nothing on television or in the major papers, some scattered applause from the left-wing blogs, heavy sarcasm on the websites flying the flags of the militant right. The nearly complete silence raised the question as to what it was the congressman had in mind, and to whom did he think he was speaking? In time of war few propositions would seem as futile as the attempt to impeach a president whose political party controls the Congress; as the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee stationed on Capitol Hill for the last forty years, Representative Conyers presumably knew that to expect the Republican caucus in the House to take note of his invitation, much less arm it with the power of subpoena, was to expect a miracle of democratic transformation and rebirth not unlike the one looked for by President Bush under the prayer rugs in Baghdad. Unless the congressman intended some sort of symbolic gesture, self-serving and harmless, what did he hope to prove or to gain? He answered the question in early January, on the phone from Detroit during the congressional winter recess.

“To take away the excuse,” he said, “that we didn't know.” So that two or four or ten years from now, if somebody should ask, “Where were you, Conyers, and where was the United States Congress?” when the Bush Administration declared the Constitution inoperative and revoked the license of parliamentary government, none of the company now present can plead ignorance or temporary insanity, can say that “somehow it escaped our notice” that the President was setting himself up as a supreme leader exempt from the rule of law.
You can read a longer excerpt online here.

To find a location near you that sells the magazine click

February 26, 2006

Rick Santorum's "Charity"

If you've heard Jon Delano speak about the current flap over Rick Santorum's financial dealings, you've heard him admit that he's more interested in the workings of Ricky's PAC than with the details of his mortgage.

In that vein, here's something I found from a newspaper on the other side of the state. Seems that our junior senator hasn't been too generous with the funds from a charity he founded. Here's the opening of the article:
Sen. Rick Santorum's charity donated about 40 percent of the $1.25 million it spent during a four-year period - well below Better Business Bureau standards - paying out the rest for overhead, including several hundred thousand dollars to campaign aides on the charity payroll, records show.

The charity, Operation Good Neighbor, provides grants to small nonprofit groups, many of them religious.

The Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance says charitable organizations should spend at least 65 percent of their total expenses on program activities.
Here's the website for "Operation Good Neighbor."

Out of fairness, it should be noted that the charity has already responded to the charges raised by the Philadelphia Inquirer. Here's Barbara W. Bonfiglio, treasurer of the charity.
In recent days, Operation Good Neighbor Foundation has come under scrutiny, and we welcome the opportunity to highlight the good work the Foundation does to serve those less fortunate. From 2001 to 2005, over 45% of the money raised goes directly for gifts or is in the bank for future gifts. It is important to realize that the Foundation does not have the same ability as better-known charities, such as the Salvation Army or American Red Cross, to raise money without spending much money to do so. Fundraising expenses are close to 37% of expenditures, as these fundraising events are recreational outings such as golf tournaments, and overhead is approximately 18%. The Foundation is pleased to distribute these awards to worthy social service organizations that might not otherwise get such contributions. Furthermore, during an IRS audit obligation, the Foundation learned of the Pennsylvania registration requirement, and is proceeding to meet that obligation.
The Philly paper says that 60% is overhead. Ms Bonfiglio says that 56% is "expenditures" and "overhead." So depending on how you define "overhead," it looks like we're quibbling over a difference of 4%. 4% of 1.25 million is what, $50,000? Is my math right here? Am I missing something?

The curious thing about all this is that Ms Bonfiglio works for Williams and Jensen, one of the top lobbying firms in DC. The address for the firm is listed on the website:

1155 21st Street, NW
Suite 300
Washington, DC 20036

If you google the address and add a "PAC" to it, you'll find (among other things) that these PACs are also run out of the same address:

Americans for a Republican Majority
Republican Majority Fund
America's Foundation

According to the wikipedia, Americans for a Republican Majority was formed by none other than Tom DeLay. Here's the FEC info for it. It should be noted that Ms Bonfilgio's name HAS NOT connected to ARMPAC in anyway as far as I can tell. And so I don't want it to appear that I am linking the two other than pointing out that she works for the firm that has an address linked to the bugman's PAC.

Ms Bonfiglio IS listed as the treasurer of the Republican Majority Fund, however. FEC info is here.

Now take a look at that last one. Ms Bonfiglio is also the treasurer for that PAC as well. Here's the FEC disclosure form for it. Curiously, this is the same PAC that received the 24K from the bank that gave Santorum that mortage for his house. It's also the same PAC that paid for all those trips to Starbucks. Here's what the American Prospect says about America's Foundation:
According to one expert, Santorum appears to reap personal benefits from America’s Foundation, the so-called leadership PAC controlled by Santorum, which has raised some $5 million from wealthy donors and business PACs over the last five years. The stated purpose of America’s Foundation is to support other GOP candidates, but the Prospect found that the committee spends considerably less on direct candidate aid than comparable PACs, and considerably more on operating expenses -- declaring hundreds of small- to medium-sized meals and purchases by Santorum or his political staff to be “campaign-related.”
Hmmm...sound familiar?

Rick Santorum - he knows the right people.

Technorati Links:

February 25, 2006

William F. Buckely: It's failed.

Take a look at this, gang. William F. Buckley, host of Firing Line, founder of The National Review and one time CIA agent, wrote this recently about the Bush regime's program in Iraq:
One can't doubt that the American objective in Iraq has failed.
Our mission has failed because Iraqi animosities have proved uncontainable by an invading army of 130,000 Americans. The great human reserves that call for civil life haven't proved strong enough. No doubt they are latently there, but they have not been able to contend against the ice men who move about in the shadows with bombs and grenades and pistols.
But then we knew that this would happen before the invasion, didn't we?


February 24, 2006

Bush shows comtempt for the law - again

Waaaay back in the Summer of 2003, the Congress of the United States of America (remember them? The members of both the House and the Senate are our elected representitives) passed a Defense Appropriations budget that contained this text:
    SEC. 8120. (a) LIMITATION ON USE OF FUNDS FOR RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT ON TERRORISM INFORMATION AWARENESS PROGRAM- Notwithstanding any other provision of law, no funds appropriated or otherwise made available to the Department of Defense, whether to an element of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or any other element, or to any other department, agency, or element of the Federal Government, may be obligated or expended on research and development on the Terrorism Information Awareness program.
    (b) LIMITATION ON DEPLOYMENT OF TERRORISM INFORMATION AWARENESS PROGRAM- (1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if and when research and development on the Terrorism Information Awareness program, or any component of such program, permits the deployment or implementation of such program or component, no department, agency, or element of the Federal Government may deploy or implement such program or component, or transfer such program or component to another department, agency, or element of the Federal Government, until the Secretary of Defense--
      (A) notifies Congress of that development, including a specific and detailed description of--
        (i) each element of such program or component intended to be deployed or implemented; and
        (ii) the method and scope of the intended deployment or implementation of such program or component (including the data or information to be accessed or used); and
      (B) has received specific authorization by law from Congress for the deployment or implementation of such program or component, including--
        (i) a specific authorization by law for the deployment or implementation of such program or component; and
        (ii) a specific appropriation by law of funds for the deployment or implementation of such program or component.
    (2) The limitation in paragraph (1) shall not apply with respect to the deployment or implementation of the Terrorism Information Awareness program, or a component of such program, in support of the following:
      (A) Lawful military operations of the United States conducted outside the United States.
      (B) Lawful foreign intelligence activities conducted wholly against non-United States persons.
They even included a "Sense of the Congress"
      (1) the Terrorism Information Awareness program should not be used to develop technologies for use in conducting intelligence activities or law enforcement activities against United States persons without appropriate consultation with Congress or without clear adherence to principles to protect civil liberties and privacy; and
      (2) the primary purpose of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is to support the lawful activities of the Department of Defense and the national security programs conducted pursuant to the laws assembled for codification purposes in title 50, United States Code.
And so, do I even need to ask what the Bush regime did?

They ignored the law, ignored the "sense of the Congress" and simply changed the name (to protect the guilty) and moved the program elsewhere. Read about it here.
A controversial counter-terrorism program, which lawmakers halted more than two years ago amid outcries from privacy advocates, was stopped in name only and has quietly continued within the intelligence agency now fending off charges that it has violated the privacy of U.S. citizens.

Research under the Defense Department's Total Information Awareness program -- which developed technologies to predict terrorist attacks by mining government databases and the personal records of people in the United States -- was moved from the Pentagon's research-and-development agency to another group, which builds technologies primarily for the National Security Agency, according to documents obtained by National Journal and to intelligence sources familiar with the move. The names of key projects were changed, apparently to conceal their identities, but their funding remained intact, often under the same contracts.
Are we really surprised about this? An administration that does what it wants when it wants, flouts the law while doing it, questions the patriotism of those who disagree, and then wraps itself in the flag (and sometimes drapes that flag on the cross) when it's finally forced to explain itself would not be above such a childish shell game.

This is yet another example of this administration's contempt for the rule of law. How many more examples do we need?


Self-serving Blog Entry

Along with my duties here at 2PJ, I also write a column for The Front. My latest can be found here. It begins like this:
A few months ago, the Pittsburgh City Council voted 6-3 on an ordinance that’s got some local (and nearly local) folks annoyed. While the title reads, “Public Safety at Health Care Facilities,” and the text is very general about “health care facilities,” it’s really about what goes on in front of the city’s abortion clinics. The ordinance sets up boundaries, of sorts, for the people who protest outside of the clinics. Since it was passed, the outer limits of the zones were spray painted onto the sidewalks of Liberty Avenue. If you walk down that side of the street, you’ll see them.
I wanted to see exactly what happened outside the clinic every Saturday morning. It was an odd experience. The "streetcorner counsellors" and the "clinic escorts" all knew their jobs and did them with practiced precision.

Sometimes you win one

From the Post-Gazette:
Abstinence group loses federal grant over 1st Amendment

A Pittsburgh-area organization dedicated to abstinence education has lost $75,000 in federal funding as part of a settlement of a lawsuit alleging that the group's activities violated the First Amendment.

The Silver Ring Thing, based in Moon, has received more than $1 million in federal funding over the past three years.

The group -- which operates worldwide -- advocates abstinence through lavish three-hour sound-and-light productions and $12 silver rings, which signify a pledge to remain virginal until marriage.

In May, the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the federal government in U.S. District Court in Boston, charging that it was allowing the Silver Ring Thing to use public tax money for primarily religious purposes. The suit charged that there was no secular component to Silver Ring Thing activities, which violated federal standards for faith-based organizations and the First Amendment.


She said that the ACLU is currently suing another Pennsylvania organization, Firm Foundation, for its lack of secular options in a jail work release program in Bradford County.
So when do we get back the rest of the taxpayer $$$ given to them?

February 23, 2006

Need something to do?

THURSDAY 2-23-06

Discover Pittsburgh 2006!
Progress Pittsburgh will be sharing a table with the League of Young Voters at Discover Pittsburgh! tomorrow, Thursday, 2/23 from 5:30 to 8:30 pm at the Soldiers & Sailors Memorial Hall (corner of Bigelow & Fifth Ave, Oakland). A gazillion other organizations will also have tables -- check out what Pittsburgh has to offer. Brought to you by PUMP.
Click here for more details.

Georgia Berner New Castle Petition Party @ Edwards
Edward's, 909 Wilmington Avenue, New Castle, PA
Thursday, February 23rd, 2006
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Stop by and say hello to Georgia. Sign a petition or pick up one to circulate.
Cost: FREE! Food will be provided, Cash bar.
Click here for more info/to RSVP

SATURDAY 2-25-06

Zelienople Meet & Greet with Georgia Berner
Beecher's, Main Street (Route 19), Zelienople, PA
Saturday, February 25th
1:00 PM - 3:00 PM
Stop by and say hello to Georgia. Sign a petition or pick up one to circulate.
Click here for more info/to RSVP

SUNDAY 2-26-06

ACDC Endorsements
This Sunday the Allegheny County Democratic Party will be holding their endorsement vote at the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) on the Southside. The Hall is located at the intersection of the Hot Metal bridge and Hot Metal Bridge Street (used be 28th Street) in the new Southside Works Complex. The event is from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM. But even if you have 2 hours to give, that would be great!!

All Democratic Candidates need visibility and help collecting signatures at this event. Whether or not you are currently circulating a petition or just want to come and sign a few petitions, say hello to everyone, put on a sticker or button for your candidate, this is a great event for Democrats.

For example, we need folks to get signatures for Governor Ed Rendell, candidate Georgia Berner in the 4th District, candidate Valerie McDonald Roberts for Lt. Governor, Conressman Mike Doyle in the 14th District, Chuck Pennacchio who is running against Rick Santorum, Rob Frank running for State Democratic Committee in the 42nd Senatorial District (State Senator Wayne Fontana's District), etc., etc!

Want to help?
For Rendell
, contact: Janis Williams:
For Berner, contact: Sam Hens-Greco 724-766-8027
For McDonald Roberts, contact: Janis Williams:
For Doyle, contact: Janis Williams:
For Pennacchio, contact me: or Janis Williams:
For Frank, contact: Rob Frank 412-431-4828

MONDAY 2-27-06

Candidate Forum for the District 3 City Council Race
Monday, 2/27 at 8:30 pm
Kurtzman Room of the Pitt Student Union
Candidate Forum for the District 3 City Council race. This is an open forum -- and a good opportunity to meet the candidates as well as residents of all parts of District 3. Please plan to come, and ask challenging questions.

* Live DJ: Enjoy the sounds of Omar-Abdul (Phonograffiti) on the wheels of steel.

* FREE FOOD: provided by the Pittsburgh League of Young Voters Education Fund.

* For more information contact: The Pittsburgh League of Young Voters Education Fund at 412-728-2197 or

TUESDAY 2-28-06

Tuesday, 2/28 at 6:00 pm
Andrea from progress Pittsburgh will be chatting with City Paper editor Chris Potter on WRCT about the District 3 race -- tune in to 88.5 FM and let them know what you think.

Meet Bruce Kraus
Host: Bill Peduto
Location: CCI Center
64 South 14th Street, South Side (off Carson St.), PA
When: Tuesday, February 28, 7:30pm to 9:00pm

Pittsburgh City Councilman Bill Peduto and friends invite you to meet Bruce Kraus, the progressive and fiscally responsible candidate for City Council for District 3. This is your chance to get involved in changing Pittsburgh - don't leave it to someone else. The election is only three weeks away and Bruce needs your help to win. You can make the difference in this race, so please don't miss this important event and this chance to reform Pittsburgh!

Bruce has already received the endorsement of a caucus of progressives and is widely respected by numerous community groups.

Progress Pittsburgh Meeting
The regular bi-weekly P2 meeting scheduled for Tuesday 2/28 at 7:00 will be cancelled


P2PA Notary Party
hursday, 3/2 at 6:00 pm at the Brillobox (Penn Ave just off Main St. in Bloomfield/Lawrenceville) Progress Pittsburgh Political Action invites you to a happy hour and petition-notarizing social, hosted in conjunction with Run, Baby, Run. Come out and meet candidates for local office, sign their petitions, and enjoy the excellent groove of the Brillobox.

Host: Progress Pittsburgh Political Action
Location: the brillobox
4104 Penn Ave (Penn & Main), Pittsburgh, PA
When: Thursday, March 2, 6:00pm
Progress Pittsburgh Political Action candidates for Allegheny County Democratic Committee & Run Baby Run candidates for Representative in the General Assembly
& their petition circulators are invited to come to this happy hour to have their nomination petitions notarized.

EVERYONE is invited to come meet & celebrate the new (and returning) voices in Pittsburgh politics

I don't mind... all when folks use my graphics, but I wish they'd follow proper netiquette and link back when they do. Saw this at Progressive PA Politics:

And I thought it looked familiar.

Also, sorry for the lack of posts, but the health problems of some family members have left me little time to blog lately.

More on Santorum - the Ethics Complaint

From Will Bunch in Philly:
The flap over Sen. Rick Santorum's unorthodox $500,000 mortgage for his family home in Leesburg, Va., took another twist yesterday when a leading watchdog group filed a formal complaint with the Senate Ethics Committee - charging that the loan from a private bank was an illegal gift because Santorum did not meet its stated guidelines.

The complaint by the Committee for Responsible Ethics in Washington, or CREW, alleges that the mortgage from Philadelphia Trust Co. is a gift in violation of Senate Rule 35, which says that senators can receive loans or other banking services only on terms "generally available to the public."
And here's press release from CREW and the pdf file of the complaint itself.

James O'Toole (and we don't know him well enough to call him "Jim") has a story on it in today's P-G. He quotes Tricky Rick with this:
"One of the things about Mike is, in the years I've known him, he's never lobbied me for anything, never asked me for anything, never did anything that was related to my professional capacity."
Notice the room for political wiggles. Lil Ricky is talking about Mike here when he says, "He's never lobbied...asked for...did anything..." and so on. It leaves open whether any of his friend Mike's business associates ever lobbied, asked for or did anything, doesn't it?

O'Toole does say this a little later on:
The articles in the Daily News and the American Prospect, reported by Will Bunch, noted that officers of the Philadelphia firm had contributed to Mr. Santorum's campaign, but they also noted that there is no evidence that Mr. Santorum, who is a member of the Senate Finance Committee, had taken any official actions to benefit the firm.
They donated about $24,000 to the campaign. But it's naive to think that while there's no evidence that Lil Ricky took any official actions to benefit the firm, he did nothing to benefit the banking industry as a whole. I mean what's the alternative? In this Senate with this party in control, Rick Santorum did nothing to benefit the banking industry? And whatever benefits the banking industry as a whole would inevitably "trickle down" to individual banking concerns, right? Everyone takes care of everyone else, but in a way that no one's hands are dirty.

Anyway, some details from O'Toole's piece (sorry for the inadvertant pun - it would have been worse of Santorum's first name was Dick):
[Santorum's] campaign spokesman said that the interest-only loan was made in 2002 at a "market-driven rate," 5 percent annually over its five-year term, at the end of which it will have to be repaid or refinanced.
I'm not a banker, but doesn't this mean that Rick only has to pay 5% of $500,000 per year (or about $25K) for each year between 2002 and 2007? Then all he has to do is to find a way to pay back the half mil in November 2007, when he's either 10 months out of the Senate making beaucoup bucks on the Conservative speech-making circuit or still in the Senate, still on the Senate Finance Committee where refinancing the loan would be easy as pie.

And his campaign is insisting that anyone can get a deal like this?

By the way here's Rule 35. It goes something like this:
1. (a)(1) No Member, officer, or employee of the Senate shall knowingly accept a gift except as provided in this rule.
(c) The restrictions in subparagraph (a) shall not apply to the following:
(19) Opportunities and benefits which are
(E) in the form of loans from banks and other financial institutions on terms generally available to the public
So if the loan isn't generally available to the public, then Santorum can't accept it because it's a gift.

Can someone tell me how *I* can get a loan like this? (Other than me turning into a powerful republican Senator on the Senate Finance Committee, of course)

Rick Santorum - a true man of the people. Living in a half-million dollar house for only a little more than about two grand per month.


February 20, 2006

More trouble for Rick Santorum

Via attytood, I learned of some new problems for our junior senator, Rick "Man-on-Dog" Santorum. The blog post links to an article at American Prospect Magazine. The teaser at the magazine article is:
An investigation into the private and public finances of Rick Santorum suggests that the Senate GOP might want to reconsider making him its ethics czar.
Interesting - I wondered what exactly it was about. Seems that Lil Ricky's maybe got some ethics issues to deal with. Take a look:
The Prospect decided to heed Santorum’s advice by taking “an honest look at the family budget” -- his family budget. What we found is that Santorum’s exurban lifestyle is financed in ways that aren’t available to the average voter back home in Pennsylvania -- namely a political action committee that lists payments for such unorthodox items as dozens of trips to the Starbucks in Leesburg, a number of stops at fast-food joints, and purchases at Target, Wal-Mart, and a Giant supermarket in northern Virginia. Although a Santorum aide defends those charges as legitimate political costs, good-government experts say the expenditures are at best unconventional, and at worst a possible violation of Senate rules, and the purchases appear to be unorthodox when compared with other senators’ filings. Santorum’s PAC -- a “leadership PAC,” whose purpose is to dispense money to other Republican candidates -- used just 18.1 percent of its money to that end over a recent five-year period, a lower number than other leadership PACs of top senators from both parties.

The financing of the Senator's house is at issue:
Initially, according to Loudoun County property records, the purchase was financed with a $405,000 mortgage from a conventional lender, Westminster Mortgage Company. But a year later, the couple refinanced for $500,000. That was not unusual in the fall of 2002, when many homeowners were refinancing to take advantage of plunging interest rates, while also cashing in on the rising equity in their homes. What was curious was the source of the increased mortgage. It was a new private bank catering to “affluent investors and institutions” -- whose officers have contributed $24,000 to Santorum’s political action committees and re-election campaign -- called Philadelphia Trust Company.
Now we're getting to the nitty-gritty.
While bank executives and directors have donated to Santorum’s campaign or his political fund since the firm’s founding in late 1998, and Crofton is the chairman of a charity run by Santorum, there is no evidence that the senator -- who sits on the Senate Banking Committee -- took any official actions on its behalf.

But government ethics experts said that even if Santorum didn’t take any action on Philadelphia Trust’s behalf, the mortgage deal carries the appearance of special treatment, which would violate the Senate ethics rules that Santorum is now charged with reforming. “Anytime he gets something that a regular person couldn’t get, that’s an improper gift,” says Melanie Sloan, a former federal prosecutor who now heads the Washington-based Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW). Sloan said the senator’s unconventional mortgage is the latest in a series of actions -- including his role in the so-called K Street Project to place Republicans in lucrative lobbying jobs -- that show “he’s seriously ethically challenged.”
That's a bad thing, right?

And then there's this:
Around the same time that the couple became Virginia homeowners, Karen Santorum entered into an unusual working arrangement with the Pittsburgh political consulting firm that has provided all of her husband’s media work. From 1995 through 1998, Brabender Cox -- the company that handled nearly $10 million in media buys for his two Senate campaigns -- paid a retainer to the senator’s wife. John Brabender, a firm principal who is godfather to one of the couple’s children, told reporters that he paid her roughly $4,000 a month for “client development,” although the exact amount was never disclosed.
John Brabender is usually the guy John McIntire talks to when he's interviewing someone from the Santorum campaign. I've even called in when Brabender was on once. Perhaps John can ask Mr Brabender about the $4000/month "client development" deal he's made with the Senator's wife. By the way, four grand a month turns $48,000 per year. If the Senator's already a client, what's the four grand for?

The rest of the article describes "questionable" trips (on PAC money) to Starbucks and Burger King. The rest of the article is a good read.

However, I would be remiss if I didn't include this paragraph. Talk about a flip-flop!
But Santorum the conservative social critic is merely the latest incarnation of a political survivor. His views on abortion were once somewhere between pro-choice and ambivalent, and in 1990 campaign literature he noted that he had “returned to my Church after a period of absence.” Santorum has also written that his view on abortion was influenced by his 1988 marriage to then-law student Karen Garver. Last year, the Philadelphia City Paper revealed that when Garver met Santorum, she had been living with the founder of Pittsburgh’s first abortion clinic.
Rick Santorum...Seriously Ethically Challenged.


Liberal Media? WHAT Liberal Media??

Peter Daou of recently issued a challenge. Here's it is:
So here's my challenge to rightwing bloggers who assail the media for liberal bias (and to journalists who think it's all a he-said-she-said pissing match): Back up your claims. With concrete examples of bias. And without the tautological crutch that any story critical of the administration is proof of liberal bias. [emphasis in original]
He's posted some results. He writes:
So while the crickets chirped, I waited for the inevitable tide of rightwing blog posts and emails proving me wrong and demonstrating, once and for all, that pervasive claims of liberal media bias are indeed true. No such luck. All I've gotten so far is a trickle of posts, which I attribute to one of three things: either rightwing bloggers weren't aware of my challenge, they didn't think it warranted a response, or they lack the evidence to back up their claims.
He's skeptical of the first as the post was linked to a number of high visibility sites. Of the second, he writes:
I'll grant that the second possible explanation for the dearth of reactions, namely that my post simply didn't merit a response, is perfectly plausible. Just because I issued a challenge doesn't mean I should automatically expect a response.
And he concludes:
Still, to my mind, the third option seems the most likely, i.e. that there really isn't evidence to undergird the assault on the media on the part of the right.
It's a good read. Sure to flummox the more conservative readers of this blog. But if you do have evicence of liberal bias in the media, I am sure Peter Daou would love to hear from you.


February 19, 2006


Seven Candidates Get A Thumbs Up At Endorsement Meeting

Democracy for Pittsburgh (the local coalition group for Democracy for America) announced today the results of an endorsement vote that was held on Saturday, February 18, 2006.

"Candidates need to jump a high hurdle in order to win our endorsement. They needed to receive at least 75% of the votes, not counting abstentions. I believe that no other progressive endorsing group in Pittsburgh requires this level of agreement from their membership," said Lou Takacs, member of Democracy for Pittsburgh's Organizing Committee and "meeting host" for the day. "Setting such a high standard also helps to ensure that winning candidates receive not only an endorsement, but a base of volunteers to draw from," he added.

Chuck Pennacchio was endorsed for US Senate (90%). Valerie McDonald Roberts was endorsed for Lt. Governor (100%). Georgia Berner was endorsed for US Representative - 4th Congressional District (91%). Susan Banahasky was endorsed for Rep. District 20 (92%). William Sargent was endorsed for Rep. District 42 (79%). And, two longtime members of Democracy for Pittsburgh were also endorsed for the Pennsylvania House of Representatives: Dan Cindric was endorsed for Rep. District 27 (96%) and Steve Karas was endorsed for Rep. District 34 (96%).

No endorsement could be reached in the following races: 14th Congressional District, 18th Congressional District, Rep. District 21, Rep. District 24 and special election for Pittsburgh City Council District 3.

During the meeting, the host asked for a show of hands of those members who were planning on running for Allegheny County Democratic Committee and nearly a quarter of those in attendance signaled their intentions to run - most for the first time.

February 18, 2006

I Enjoy Being a Girl

Because ladies' private parts are oh so delicate -- until they are not.

(Some days it just doesn't pay to wake up in the morning.)

I Enjoy Being a Girl (Part I)
Ski Jumping:
"...not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view"

From Shakespeare's Sister (via feministing via Newsday):

Both Johnsons are among the best ski jumpers in the world. Alissa is ranked ninth among the top women who compete, about 141 spots higher than her brother sits in the men's rankings. But only 16-year-old Anders is preparing to compete for the U.S. Winter Olympic team this week in the Alps north of Turin. Not because Alissa can't fly far. But because women ski jumpers aren't allowed in the Olympics, for reasons older than the hills.

Though the top men and women competitors in the world routinely fly off the same 90- and 100-meter jumps and the very best women train on the 120-meter hills, the only Winter Olympic events in which women are not allowed to compete are ski jumping and Nordic combined, which is a combination of cross-country skiing and ski jumping.


"People always ask what it feels like to ski jump," she said. "And I say, 'It feels like you can fly.'"

To anyone acquainted with the history of women's sports, the thudding excuses the women ski jumpers are given for their exclusion from the Games are sadly, ridiculously familiar. Gian-Franco Kasper, head of the International Ski Federation, has said, "Ski jumping is just too dangerous for women. Don't forget, [the landing] it's like jumping down from, let's say, about two meters to the ground about a thousand times a year, which seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view."


The international federation will take another vote this spring on whether women should jump in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. And Alissa said, "So far, we've been told every excuse in the book. That it's too 'dangerous' for girls. That there aren't enough of us. That we're not good enough. That it would damage our ovaries and uterus and we won't be able to have children, even though that's not true. It's so outdated, it's kind of funny in a way. And then it's not."

I Enjoy Being a Girl (Part II)
Reprieve for rapist over girl's virginity

From TimesOnline UK (I thought I saw this on AmericaBlog, but their posts are getting deleted by blogger):
ITALY’S highest court has ruled that a man who raped the 14-year-old daughter of his girlfriend can seek to have his sentence reduced because the girl was not a virgin.


In 2001 Marco T. was convicted by a court in Cagliari, Sardinia, of sexual violence and threats against his partner’s daughter, and jailed for three years and four months. The judges refused his request to have the sentenced reduced on mitigating circumstances that the crime was less serious because the girl had already had several sexual partners.

Italy’s highest court said yesterday that the Cagliari judges were wrong and should reassess the decision because the girl “since the age of 13 had had many sexual relations” so could be assumed to have a “more developed” personality than one might expect.

(run, baby, run)

February 17, 2006

Hey, look what I found!

Via this post at the dailykos, I found this.

It's a survey that shows that for Pennsylvania, Bush is in deep doo-doo. According to the site, the approval/disapproval numbers for Bush in Pennsylvania are 36/60.

That means that a sliver more than one third of us here in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania answered "approve" when asked this simple question:
Do you approve or disapprove of the job George W. Bush is doing as President?
And six in ten answered "disapprove."

When you have Senator Man-on-Dog trailing boring Bob Casey by double digits (what is it now, 11% or something?) with absolutely no Presidential coat-tails for Lil Ricky to ride on, you have a recipe for disaster for our many many conservative friends.


Governor Rendell to announce his veto of House Bill #1318 in Pittsburgh on Monday

Governor Rendell will be at Hill House Auditorium on Monday, February 20th at 1:30 to announce his veto of House Bill #1318.

The Hill House is located at 1835 Centre Ave. in Pittsburgh's Hill District.

House Bill 1318 is an anti-voting rights bill.

You can read the ACLU's take on it here and more about it at Progress Pittsburg's blog here.

William Sargent, a Democratic Candidate for the 42nd Legislative District, was one of many who asked Gov. Rendell to veto the bill. In his letter Sargent states:

"Real election reform is needed in accurate counting of votes through voter-verified paper ballots. House Bill 1318 will impede some Pennsylvanians' ability to vote and distracts from the truly needed election reform contained in legislation such as Senate Bill 977 and House Bill 2000."

House Bill 1318 requires voters to present an original form of photo or non-photo identification at every election. Voters unable to produce ID would be allowed to vote using a provisional ballot that could possibly be contested and not counted.

House Bill 2000 and Senate Bill 977, two bills calling for a paper audit of electronic votes, remain in legislative limbo.

"It is unconscionable that the Pennsylvania House and Senate believes that it is okay that a registered voter could show up on election day and not be able to vote because of a lack of 'proper' identification, but in the same breath the same career politicians discount the need to for a paper audit of a voter's electronic vote to ensure that their vote counted."
Please join Gov. Rendell and spread the word!

If you have anyquestions, feel free to contact the Black Political Empowerment Project at 412-758-7898.

Yeah, I'm still talking about Deadeye Dick

If only because the lies and secrecy and "management" of the press over Cheney shooting an elderly man in the face and chest is emblematic of this whole fetid and corrupt administration...and, because we had years of talking about another dick.

So here's the questions that still remain:

1. What did Cheney see when he took the shot?
A. From AmericaBlog:

"The image of him falling is something I will never be able to get out my mind," Cheney said, somberly. "It was one of the worst days of my life."
If you could see him the split second AFTER you shot him, then you could see him the split second BEFORE you shot him. So either Cheney could see the guy, and shot him anyway (which completely contradicts what Cheney's people have been saying for 5 days now), or Cheney couldn't see the guy and he's now lying to the nation in order to incur our sympathy.

B. From firedoglake (you may need to scroll a bit depending on your browser):

In the report Cheney also notes that Whittington was at a lower elevation than him, and that's why he got hit in the face. From the GPS coordinates given I did a 100ft circle around that to see the changes in elevation and they are less than 1 Foot.
2. How close was Cheney to his victim?
From the International Herald Tribune:

Veteran hunters and shooting experts said Thursday that they still did not understand how the vice president injured his fellow hunting partner so badly if he was actually 30 yards away as Cheney says.

"It just doesn't add up," said John Kelly, a quail hunter from New York with more than 36 years of experience. "With a shotgun, the pellets spread out the further you get, and for that many pellets to hit such a small part of this man's body means Mr. Cheney was far closer" than the 27-meter distance cited.
3. Why was the "designated witness" someone in a car over a football field away?
From BarbinMD at Daily KOS:

Armstrong said she saw Cheney's security detail running toward the scene. "The first thing that crossed my mind was he had a heart problem," she told The Associated Press.

This is Armstrong admitting that the first evidence she saw that alerted her that something was wrong was the Secret Service running to help. And that she thought it was Cheney who was in trouble.

This says, to me at least, that she did not see the accident at all.

4. Was the reason why Armstrong was used as the "designated witness" because Cheney was trying to hide his own Lewinsky?
A. From Bob Cesca at the Huffington Post:

Sirius radio's Alex Bennett just broke a rumor that the delay in reporting the news that Cheney shot an old man in the heart was due to an effort to hide or spin Cheney's female companion.

Pamela Willeford (shown right), ambassador to Switzerland and -- yes -- Liechtenstein, was part of the hunting excursion with Cheney and Whittington. And according to Willeford's account, Cheney and the ambassador were side-by-side when the shooting of Whittington took place.

The vice president's Secret Service detail had to decide what to do with Willeford by way of perhaps covering up her relationship with Cheney, and thus the delay in reporting the news.

The rumor goes that Lynn Cheney isn't happy with Cheney's close relationship with Willeford.

Again, just a rumor.

B. From firedoglake:
name: Pamela Willeford
race: white (duh...)
age: 50ish
sex: f (duh...)
occupation: US Ambassadress to Switzerland
last seen: Sat. 2/11/06, on a ranch in Texas, in the company of the V-POTUS
details: Ms. Willeford is missing after an incident involving firearms and alcohol. SHE MAY BE IN GRAVE DANGER. Please report any information immediately to the authorities.
5. Why didn't the White House Doctors send a trauma victim to the nearest trauma hospital?
From firedoglake:

I have every reason to believe the White House docs in Cheney's traveling ICU have excellent trauma medicine skills.

So I have all the more reason to ask what they were thinking of when they decided that the 78 year old victim of severe gunshot wounds needed the slow ambulance ride to the local non-trauma hospital - rather than the fast chopper ride to the trauma center?


At the smaller hospital there would be fewer prying eyes- and it's possible some of em knew a doc there who could be counted on. Once they went to the big hospital- the chances of keeping it covered up evaporated.
6. What role did alcohol play?
From Think Progress:

The sheriff’s report does not address this question. The report does not indicate that the sheriff’s office ever took a breathalyzer test or any other blood-alcohol test. Moreover, the report indicates that although the sheriff’s office was contacted at 5:30 pm on Saturday night, they waited until 8:00 am the next morning to interview Cheney.

The report does claim that when Harry Whittington was finally interviewed on Monday, the interviewing officer said Whittington “explained foremost there was no alcohol during the hunt.” Today, Whittington’s doctors said again that they had “no comment” about whether blood tests have revealed any alcohol in his blood.

The sheriff’s report doesn’t address the question. That’s why McClellan needs to.
7. Why didn't Cheney go to the hospital with the man he shot? Wouldn't you?
From Crooks and Liars:

FRANKEN: And you have to ask yourself the following questions. Why didn't he go to the hospital if-he went back to the ranch and had dinner. Now, if you are so worried-he said that he didn‘t get the story out because he wasn‘t sure how serious this was.

If you are so concerned about how serious this is, you go to the hospital. He said-when he was asked by Brit Hume in this very softball interview, you know, did you go on—in the ambulance, he went, well, no. There wasn‘t enough—it was very crowded, and they didn‘t need another body.

Well, the—he—there‘s plenty of vans that he could have gone to the hospital in. So, it begs the question...

SCARBOROUGH: You are making a good point. You are making a good point, that, had I shot somebody, had you shot somebody, we certainly would have rushed to the hospital, even if we were vice president of the United States.

I'm just asking...


And because I could use a laugh (and you probably could too):

"Dickie and The Trigger Happy Birdie Killers" singing "Go Fuck Yourself".
(Not work friendly!)

(Not photoshopped by me)

February 16, 2006

More Bad Poll Numbers for George

From the that Bush-hating, left-leaning, latte-sipping, tree-hugging, moral relativism defending, John Kerry endorsing, bastion of liberal "news", THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ON-LINE:
President George W. Bush's job-approval ratings have fallen off slightly from January 2006, according to a recent Harris Interactive poll, while Congress's ratings have remained about the same.

Any benefit President Bush may have gained from his State of the Union speech didn't last long enough to be measured in the latest poll, as Mr. Bush's ratings are now 40% positive, down from a positive rating of 43% in January, and 58% negative, up from 56% negative.
The actual numbers aren't anything to cheer about. 40% positive/58% negative.What this means, of course, is that if you or anyone you know thinks Bush is doing a good job, you're in the minority.

And using them ole logic circuits, it follows that if you or anyone you know thinks that Bush is doing a bad job, you're with the majority.

The situation with the Congress is even worse, if that's possible. Here's the numbers: 25% Positive/71% Negative. Almost three times as many people have a negative view of Congress than a positive one. These are the numbers that have "remained about the same" since last month.

I don't think it be said (honestly) that the republicans has been successful at governing. Fact of the matter is, they've done a piss-poor job. And it doesn't help when liberal rags like the Wall Street Journal are doing their best to undermine God's Own Party.


February 15, 2006

KDKA Tonight

One of the 2 Political Junkies (me) will be on John McIntire's radio program tonight on KDKARadio.

We'll be talking about, what else? "Dead-eye" Dick Cheney.

In case you forgot - some more Abu Ghraib torture photos


The Sydney Morning Herald describes them as:
Some of the 60 previously unpublished photographs that the US Government has been fighting to keep secret in a court case with the American Civil Liberties Union.
Gee, I wonder why.

Here's an accompanying article. In it, there's this:
Although a US judge last year granted the [ACLU] access to the photographs following a freedom-of-information request, the US Administration has appealed against the decision on the grounds their release would fuel anti-American sentiment.
Again, any wonder why? A better way to make sure "anti-American" sentiment isn't "fueled" would be to NOT TORTURE IN THE FIRST PLACE. Such civilized thoughts, I guess, are lost on the more fervently patriotic among us. Lucky us.

The piece describes the 60 pictures this way:
Some of the photos are similar to those published in 2004, others are different. They include photographs of six corpses, although the circumstances of their deaths are not clear. There are also pictures of what appear to be burns and wounds from shotgun pellets.
Please, no Cheney jokes here. This is torture. This is serious. And it was done in our name.


David Ignatius on the Bush Regime

Check out his Op-ed in today's Washington Post.

It starts here:
There is a temptation that seeps into the souls of even the most righteous politicians and leads them to bend the rules, and eventually the truth, to suit the political needs of the moment. That arrogance of power is on display with the Bush administration.
And quickly veers off to Dead-Eye Dick:
The most vivid example is the long delay in informing the country that Vice President Cheney had accidentally shot a man last Saturday while hunting in Texas. For a White House that informs us about the smallest bumps and scrapes suffered by the president and vice president, the lag is inexplicable. But let us assume the obvious: It was an attempt to delay and perhaps suppress embarrassing news. We will never know whether the vice president's office would have announced the incident at all if the host of the hunting party, Katharine Armstrong, hadn't made her own decision Sunday morning to inform her local paper.
Before you can say "Chappaquidick" he writes:
Nobody died at Armstrong Ranch, but this incident reminds me a bit of Sen. Edward Kennedy's delay in informing Massachusetts authorities about his role in the fatal automobile accident at Chappaquiddick in 1969. That story, and dozens of others about the Kennedy family, illustrates how wealthy, powerful people can behave as if they are above the law. For my generation, the fall of Richard Nixon is the ultimate allegory about how power can corrupt and destroy. It begins not with venality but with a sense of God-given mission.
It's a good read. The last two paragraphs tell the entire tale:
Bush and Cheney are in the bunker. That's the only way I can make sense of their actions. They are steaming in a broth of daily intelligence reports that highlight the grim terrorist threats facing America. They have sworn blood oaths that they will defend the United States from its adversaries -- no matter what . They have blown past the usual rules and restraints into territory where few presidents have ventured -- a region where the president conducts warrantless wiretaps against Americans in violation of a federal statute, where he authorizes harsh interrogation methods that amount to torture.

When critics question the legality of the administration's actions, Bush and Cheney assert the commander in chief's power under Article II of the Constitution. When Congress passes a law forbidding torture, the White House appends a signing statement insisting that Article II -- the power of the commander in chief -- trumps everything else. When the administration's Republican friends suggest amending the wiretapping law to make its program legal, the administration refuses. Let's say it plainly: This is the arrogance of power, and it has gone too far in the Bush White House.
Arrogance of power? The GOP? NAH!


February 14, 2006

The ABA on the domestic surveillance

Reuters (a real live news organization) is reporting that:
The American Bar Association told President George W. Bush on Monday to either stop domestic eavesdropping without a warrant or get the law changed to make it legal.
Hmm..I guess the American Bar Association thinks Bush's domestic spying is illegal. But before the conservatives in the audience raise the canard that this proves somehow that the ABA wants to stop Bush from collecting any information on al qaeda, let's take a look at the next paragraph:
"We do not say surveillance should be stopped, only that it comply with the law," said Neal Sonnett, a Miami lawyer who headed the task force formed to look at the issue not long after the spying program came to light in December.
A few lines later:
"We are not trying to limit the President's ability to go after terrorists," Sonnett told the group's House of Delegates before it passed his task force's resolution with relatively little debate.
"Nobody wants to hamstring the President," he added, "But we cannot allow the US Constitution and our rights to become a victim of terrorism," he added.

[ABA president Michael] Grecco told the group the issue is not whether the President can conduct surveillance but whether he can do it unilaterally.
The report can be found here. According to the ABA website, the recommendations now reflect official ABA policy.


Cheney "ignored his responsibility" to the American People

Guess who said that?

The person who said that also said "The responsibility for handling this, of course, was Cheney's."

While the apologists for the Bush regime snap to attention and try to blame this whole mess on anything BUT dead-eye Dick ("Whittington should have made some noise." or "The Washington Press corp is just mad that some little Texas newspaper broke the story instead of them." or "Those Bush haters just want Whittington to die!") Marlin Fitzwater, Ronald Reagan's press secretary is "appalled by the handling" of this situation. He said:
"What [Cheney] should have done was call his press secretary and tell her what happened and she then would have gotten a hold of the doctor and asked him what happened. Then interview [ranch owner] Katharine Armstrong to get her side of events and then put out a statement to inform the public."
Fitzwater also said:
"They could have done all of that in about two hours on Saturday. It is beyond me why it was not done this way."
Wait there's more:
If [Cheney's] press secretary had any sense about it at all, she would have gotten the story together and put it out. Calling AP, UPI, and all of the press services. That would have gotten the story out and it would have been the right thing to do, recognizing his responsibility to the people as a nationally elected official, to tell the country what happened," Fitzwater added.

"Secondly, it would have been confined to the vice president. By not telling anyone for 24 hours, it made it a White House story. Now it has become 'when was the president notified?', 'why didn't he put it out?' It becomes a story about the White House handling of it."
Now even other conservatives (the sane ones, at least) think the Bush White House screwed up.

In the end, it only shows the contempt the man has for his constituency and for the country he's currently ruining.


"There's something screwy around here."

Be very, very quiet. I'm hunting wabbits quail people.

OK, OK, I know that everyone and their mother has already commented on this but, since Saturday I've had three separate family members go to the emergency room on three separate occasions (the two who I escorted are still hospitalized -- everyone should be OK) so I haven't had a chance to weigh in on THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES SHOOTING AN ELDERLY MAN IN THE FACE. And, since I called dibbs on this story, Dayvoe could not comment.

And, since as one of our readers commented, this blog engages in "sophomoric humor, name calling, and [has a} general childish tone," I must comment on THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES SHOOTING AN ELDERLY MAN IN THE FACE.

Besides, I think it's fudding funny.

Yes, I know that I'm not the first to make the Elmer Fudd reference, but if the shoe fits...

(Besides, I immediately started downloading Elmer Fudd pictures when I heard about THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES SHOOTING AN ELDERLY MAN IN THE FACE on Sunday evening).

So fess up:

How many of you, like me, laughed your butt off when you heard that Darth Vader shot a 78 year old man in the face?

How many of you thought, "God, I hope the Daily Show/Letterman/leno is live on Monday?"

How many of you thought, "Jesus, he isn't content to be the cause of so much death in Iraq, he's got to start trying to shoot folks himself?"

How many of you wondered why it took almost 24 hours for this story to make the national press?

Well, from the press and media coverage so far, I know I'm not alone in my thoughts.

For your reading pleasure, I present a roundup of some of the more interesting stories resulting from THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES SHOOTING AN ELDERLY MAN IN THE FACE:

1. Here's the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department report on Vice President Dick Cheney's accidental shooting.

2. Here's Scott McClellan unsuccessfully trying to avoid the question of why the public had to find out this story from a tiny little local newspaper THE DAY AFTER IT HAPPENED.

3. Here's Ron Reagan asking why local law enforcement weren't able to immediately question the Veep like they would after any other incident when someone is shot. Questions like "Was alchohol involved?"

4. Here's firedoglake with the law on the MANDATORY REPORTING OF GUNSHOT WOUNDS in Texas and the NRA on gun safety.

5. Here's AmericaBlog letting us know that Ol' Darth didn't really have the necessary paperwork needed to hunt lil birdies in Texas.

6. Here's One of Cheney's adviser's letting us know that Cheney has nothing to be sorry for because "He didn't do anything he wasn't supposed to do." (I guess THE VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES IS SUPPOSSED TO SHOOT AN ELDERLY MAN IN THE FACE!)

7. Here's Atrios with photos of the people who participated in the hunting party.

8. Here's Josh Marshall explaining exactly how Cheney really did fuck up.

9. Here's Shakespeare's Sister demonstrating that even this story has a connection to a scandal in George Bush’s past.

10. Here's firedoglake reminding everyone how snarky Chickenhawk Unka Dick was when John Kerry went hunting during the election (And Kerry did not SHOOT AN ELDERLY MAN IN THE FACE).

11. And, Crooks and Liars has Monday's Daily Show video:
Courdry: "Jon, tonight the Vice President is standing by his decision to shoot Harry Whittington. Now according to the best intelligence available, there were quail hidden in the brush. Everyone believed at the time-there-were-quail in the brush. And while the quail turned out to be the 78 year old man. Even knowing that today, Mr. Cheney insists-he still would have shot Mr. Whittington in the face."

February 13, 2006

A Recent EDITORIAL From The New York Times

In case you all missed it. You can find it here. I can't say I disagree with it. It starts like this:
We can't think of a president who has gone to the American people more often than George W. Bush has to ask them to forget about things like democracy, judicial process and the balance of powers - and just trust him. We also can't think of a president who has deserved that trust less.
And it ends like this:
Like many other administrations before it, this one sometimes dissembles clumsily to avoid embarrassment. (We now know, for example, that the White House did not tell the truth about when it learned the levees in New Orleans had failed.) Spin-as-usual is one thing. Striking at the civil liberties, due process and balance of powers that are the heart of American democracy is another.
In between the EDITORIAL BOARD takes Bush to task for three of its biggest screw-ups; Domestic Spying, The Prison Camps, and (of course) The War in Iraq.


Corruption - It's the Right thing to do.

From an editorial in today's Post-Gazette:
While the Bush administration has earned a well-deserved reputation for acting in secrecy, similar cloak-and-dagger tactics are popping up on Capitol Hill, where the Republican majority has demonstrated that it can make legislation appear or vanish without even a vote.

A case in point came before Congress' Christmas recess, when Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist inserted an immunity provision for flu vaccine manufacturers in a defense bill after other lawmakers had agreed that it would be left out.
Some details follow:
Now the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office reports that GOP officials slipped a $22 billion gift to the health-insurance industry into legislation that was supposed to cut the federal budget. The action was taken during a meeting from which Democratic lawmakers and their staff members were excluded.
Not something they sang about on Schoolhouse Rock, is it? Maybe they need a elementary primer on democracy over there in the red-tinged halls of Congress.

Here's the final paragraph from the editorial staff of the P-G:
Such tactics are more than high-handed. They are a fundamental short-circuiting of the legislative process, just one more layer in the culture of corruption that is slowly strangling Washington and making a mockery of our democratic form of government.
Can one or more Constitutional originalists in the audience (and I know you're out there) explain to me where this is spelled out in the Constitution? It's my understanding that Article 1 Section 7 outlines the process in which a bill becomes law. Where is it written that one party can highjack a bill and insert text that (in the words of the P-G) "other lawmakers had agreed that it would be left out"?

The P-G is right, it's just more corruption from the republicans. Nothing new here, citizens.

New republican motto: "Corruption - It's the Right thing to do."

And if you don't get the pun, you're part of the problem.


February 10, 2006

The ABA Poll

The American Bar Association recently conducted a poll, well I'll let them describe it:
According to a poll commissioned by the American Bar Association and released today, 52 percent of respondents said that in the fight against terrorism, the President of the United States alone cannot suspend constitutional freedoms, with an additional 25 percent saying he must obtain authorization by a court of law or Congress. Thus 77 percent of Americans express deep reservations about the president’s secret surveillance program.
Wow 77%, that's way more than a majority, huh?
The telephone poll conducted by Harris Interactive® over the past weekend found that only 18 percent of respondents believe the president can suspend constitutional freedoms "anytime the President thinks it is necessary to protect the country."
18%. That's less than 1 in 5.

I would have bolded out the important parts - but it's all important.

The data can be found here.


Delay Rewarded by his Corrupt Party

From ABC News:

Indicted Rep. Tom DeLay, forced to step down as the No. 2 Republican in the House, scored a soft landing Wednesday as GOP leaders rewarded him with a coveted seat on the Appropriations Committee.

DeLay, R-Texas, also claimed a seat on the subcommittee overseeing the Justice Department, which is currently investigating an influence-peddling scandal involving disgraced lobbyist Jack Abramoff and his dealings with lawmakers. The subcommittee also has responsibility over NASA _ a top priority for DeLay, since the Johnson Space Center is located in his Houston-area district.

"Allowing Tom DeLay to sit on a committee in charge of giving out money is like putting Michael Brown back in charge of FEMA Republicans in Congress just can't seem to resist standing by their man," said Bill Burton, spokesman for the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
The vacancy in the Appropriations Committee was created by the departure of Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Ca) who resigned after pleading guilty for accepting $2.4 million in bribes.

It was only five months ago that DeLay was indicted on a charge of criminally conspiring with political associates to "inject illegal corporate contributions into 2002 state elections that helped the Republican Party reorder the congressional map in Texas and cement its control of the House in Washington."

Any questions left as to whether or not the Republican party is thoroughly corrupt?

This is not like watching how sausage is made -- this is watching how corruption occurs

It does not matter what the people want -- Rethuglicans will do what they like:

1. Frist & Hastert rigged defense legislation, without anybody knowing they slipped in language protecting pharmaceutical lobbyists from lawsuits

2. Bush snuck Social Security privatization plan into his budget

More evidence Bush lied...

In today's Washington Post:
The former CIA official who coordinated U.S. intelligence on the Middle East until last year has accused the Bush administration of "cherry-picking" intelligence on Iraq to justify a decision it had already reached to go to war, and of ignoring warnings that the country could easily fall into violence and chaos after an invasion to overthrow Saddam Hussein.
And that's just the first paragraph. Here's the fourth:
"It has become clear that official intelligence was not relied on in making even the most significant national security decisions, that intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made, that damaging ill will developed between [Bush] policymakers and intelligence officers, and that the intelligence community's own work was politicized," [Paul R. ] Pillar wrote.
Corruption and incompetence - hallmarks of the Bush Regime.


February 9, 2006

Sidney Blumenthal on the Gonzales' lies

I think Sidney Blumenthal has it completely right. He wrote this for the Guardian.
In 1996, Governor George W Bush received a summons to serve on a jury, which would have required his admission that 20 years earlier he had been arrested for drunk driving. Already planning his presidential campaign, he did not want this information made public. His lawyer made the novel argument to the judge that Bush should not have to serve because "he would not, as governor, be able to pardon the defendant in the future". (The defendant was a stripper accused of drunk driving.) The judge agreed, and it was not until the closing days of the 2000 campaign that Bush's record surfaced. On Monday, the same lawyer, Alberto Gonzales - now attorney general - appeared before the senate judiciary committee to defend "the client", as he called the president.

Gonzales was the sole witness called to explain Bush's warrantless domestic spying, in obvious violation of the foreign intelligence surveillance act (Fisa) and circumvention of the special court created to administer it. The scene at the Senate was acted as though scripted partly by Kafka, partly by Mel Brooks, and partly by John le Carré. After not being sworn in, the absence of oath-taking having been insisted upon by the Republicans, Gonzales offered legal reasoning even more imaginative than that he used to get Bush off jury duty: a melange of mendacity, absurdity and mystery.
But the scary part comes later on:
Who was or wasn't being spied on couldn't and wouldn't be explained. When Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, asked whether the program could be used to "influence United States political processes, public opinion, policies or media", Gonzales replied: "Those are very, very difficult questions, and for me to answer those questions sort of off the cuff, I think would not be responsible." When Senator Joseph Biden, Democrat of Delaware, asked for assurances that only al-Qaida or suspected terrorists were subjected to surveillance, Gonzales answered: "Sir, I can't give you absolute assurance."
Whah??? He can't give "absolute assurance" that only terrorists (or suspected terrorists) are being watched?

The amazing thing is that this is the answer he gave even though he wasn't under oath.

How much more do we need to know about this administration before we all understand it's a real threat to our civil liberties?


WE HIT 100,000!

Take a look.

At about 10pm this evening, 2 Political Junkies hit 100,000 hits on the counter.

Someday soon, we'll all get together and have some beer in celebration.

Oh, yea.


Cheney "Authorized" Libby

This is baaad news for the Bush junta. Naitonal Journal is reporting:
Vice President Dick Cheney's former chief of staff, I. Lewis (Scooter) Libby, testified to a federal grand jury that he had been "authorized" by Cheney and other White House "superiors" in the summer of 2003 to disclose classified information to journalists to defend the Bush administration's use of prewar intelligence in making the case to go to war with Iraq, according to attorneys familiar with the matter, and to court records.
And then
Libby specifically claimed that in one instance he had been authorized to divulge portions of a then-still highly classified National Intelligence Estimate regarding Saddam Hussein's purported efforts to develop nuclear weapons, according to correspondence recently filed in federal court by special prosecutor Patrick J. Fitzgerald. [emphasis in original]
The thing is, of course, that The Vice President doesn't have the authority to declassify.

And isn't releasing classified material a threat to national security?

About Lynn

So Scranton has dropped out. And then there was One Swann. (OK there's someone else but who even knows it or cares?)

There are 12 paragraphs on Lynn Swann's bio page on his website. After the first brief paragraph that basically says he was born, the next five are about sports.

I never visited Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign site, but I wonder if he had this much info about his body builder/movie career...I kind of doubt it.

And speaking of Schwarzenegger, this is who Democrats need to constantly remind voters of in the upcoming race. AHRRNOLD has made a mess of things in Cali and the voters know it.

(with even less business experience)

UPDATE: Well, not so much an update but more of an 'aside" -- something that I forgot to mention.

I know that we are not allowed to mention race in this race, but since we mentioned Swann's website I have to say that if you came to the website from outer space and knew nothing of Pennsylvania, you might conclude from the pictures on it (top graphic, photo gallery, bio page, supporters page, etc.) that Lynn Swann and his family are the only African Americans in the state. I mean, he must know some...(Democrats) .

Go ahead and fire away.

More Trouble for Santorum

Or is it the same trouble - only it's so large that it only LOOKS like more trouble?

Anyway, check this out from the Conservative American Enterprise Institute. John Fortier begins this way:
Sen. Santorum has been watching football and has learned a lesson. If an underestimated team from western Pennsylvania can win the Super Bowl, then maybe an underestimated Republican senator from western Pennsylvania can win reelection. But for Santorum to win, he would not just have to “defy the odds” but rewrite the laws of physics, or at least of political science.
And ends with this:
Perhaps the best parallel is former Sen. Tim Hutchinson (R-Ark.) in 2002, who faced Mark Pryor, a statewide office holder and son of a political icon. But Santorum’s polls are even worse than Hutchinson’s. Pryor beat Hutchinson 54-46.

If you bet on the Steelers last weekend, you made some money. If you believe in parallels between football and politics, your bookie would be happy to take your money.
It's not much fun for Lil Ricky in between either. Some highlights:
In the past, Santorum has not faced the strongest opponents, but he will in November. And his polling numbers are the worst he has ever had and worse than other Senate incumbents who have lost.
Santorum's poll numbers are abysmal. Recent polls show his job approval rating at 40 percent or below and his disapproval rating nearly 50 percent. Typically, an approval rate that dips below 50 percent is a sign of big trouble. Santorum also trails Casey by 10-16 points in head-to-head match-ups.
About the only thing I would disagree with in this article is this:
This time, Santorum is facing a tough opponent. Bob Casey Jr.'s father was a very popular governor. The candidate has held statewide office himself. He is a moderate, closer to Santorum on abortion and guns than he is to other Democrats. He even supported the confirmation of Justices John Roberts and Samuel Alito. And Democrats are solidly united behind him.
Except for that last sentence, I'd have to agree with most everything the article says.

Poor Rick. It'll be so (sniffle) sad to see him go. No more embarrassing homophobia, no more embarrassing religious pandering. No more embarrassments from him at all.


File Under: Not Even His Base Belives His BS

From the Washington Post:
Evangelicals urge action on global warming

By Alan Elsner
Wednesday, February 8, 2006; 3:24 PM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A group of 85 evangelical Christian leaders on Wednesday backed legislation opposed by the White House to cut carbon dioxide emissions, kicking off a campaign to mobilize religious conservatives to combat global warming.

The group which included mega-church pastors, Christian college presidents, religious broadcasters and writers, also unveiled a full-page advertisement to run in Thursday's New York Times and a television ad it hopes to screen nationally.


The campaign by the evangelical leaders represented a possible split in President George W. Bush's political base, in which Christian evangelical voters are heavily represented.

However, the names of most of the president's most influential Christian political backers were notably absent from the list of signatories joining the campaign. Possibly the best-known signer was Rick Warren, author of the best-selling book, "The Purpose Driven Life."


The Bush administration opposes imposing mandatory limits and backs voluntary efforts by companies. It has also refused to join the Kyoto Protocol, an international accord signed by the European Union, Japan and most other industrialized nations that sets hard targets for cutting emissions.

The Christian leaders said they were impelled by their faith to launch the campaign out of a growing realization that the threat of global warming was real and that the world's poor would suffer the most.

February 8, 2006

I always wanted to make six figures

It looks like 2pj is poised to reach 100,000 hits in the next few days so I moved the stat counter to the top of the right nav bar.

(A parade and rally are being planned for when we reach our goal to rival the QUARTER OF A MILLION who showed up to greet the Steelers yesterday. Not.)

Why it's Ok to hate Bush (Part 217)

Bush to Widows of Soldiers: "FU"
"President Bush's budget calls for elimination of a $255 lump-sum death payment that has been part of Social Security for more than 50 years..."

Bush to Soldiers: "FU"
"My nephew received a notice in the mail that the U.S. government won't be picking up the tab for his tuition as promised this semester and probably not for any other semester in the near future. "There is no more money," the letter pretty much said in clear language. Despite the promises and assurances that the government would be there for my nephew if my nephew was there for the government, his college dream is in jeopardy."

Nominees up for The 2005 Koufax Awards: Most Humorous Post

Need a laugh? (Not open for voting yet)

The 2005 Koufax Awards: Most Humorous Post

Here they are. No explanations necessary, I suspect. Comments closed until all categories are up.

2 Political Junkies: What if the Right is Right?

You can see the rest of the nominees HERE.

There are a ton of them and while I haven't had a chance to read them all, Cargoweasel's A Joke and Fafblog!'s Update From the Hunt for Bin Laden are certainly worth your time.

Short Takes

Lots of things caught my eye recently:

* PUNK KID who "corrected" NASA's scientists is not even a college grad.
* The only HERO in the Cartoon Controversy?
* Special "Re-vote" to be held in Ohio because DIEBOLD machines recorded more votes than voters.
* 99.80% ERROR RATE in warrantless spy program.
* More ERRORS: majority of Guantanamo detainees not Taliban or Al Qaeda.
* Injured soldier forced to pay for LOST BODY ARMOR
* Those crazy PENPALS: McCain and Obama.

February 7, 2006

That's Our Arlen!

Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) is often cited as one of the few remaining moderate Republicans in Congress. But where does he stand when the chips are down? While Specter is ostensibly pro-choice, he backed Alito for the Supreme Court.

And then there's Specter's penchant for being "different" as when he famously cited Scottish law to render a verdict of "not proven" on President Clinton's impeachment (his vote was recorded as "not guilty" in the Senate records).

So how did the man who declared Gonzales' explanations to date as "strained and unrealistic" and said the he believed that Bush violated the FISA law conduct the Senate Judiciary Committee's hearings yesterday?

On the one hand Specter did not have Gonzales sworn in and as Slate put it:
No witnesses other than Gonzales. No new details of the National Security Agency spying program that the committee was supposed to be inquiring about. No request for the Justice Department's internal legal memorandums about the legality of the NSA program.
On the other hand, Specter responded to Gonzales' prevarications by making such statements as:
"That's false on it's face"


"That defies logic and plain English."
Specter closed by suggesting that Bush submit the entire NSA program to FISA's secret court for review.

Mr. Gonzales responded that "we are happy to listen to your ideas."

Anyone want to hazard a guess as to whether this administration will actually do more than "listen" to ideas?

Anyone want to hazard a guess as to whether when push comes to shove, Specter will let them weasel out of any real oversight?