Democracy Has Prevailed.

September 30, 2006

The Foley Affair: Where does Melissa Hart Fit In?

Now that the Other Political Junkie has covered this yet-another outstanding example of Republican morality, I want to follow up with a more local angle.

CNN is reporting that:
The House voted unanimously to launch an investigation into messages allegedly sent by former Rep. Mark Foley to a male teenage page.
The House vote came after the congressman who oversees the page program revealed he had learned about the exchange late last year and subsequently warned Foley to be "mindful" of his behavior.

Majority Leader John Boehner, an Ohio Republican, learned about the matter during the spring, but "there wasn't a level of alarm because there was no specificity about the contact," an aide to Boehner told CNN.
Boehner blocked a vote on a resolution offered by Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi that asked the House Ethics Committee to begin a preliminary investigation into Foley's conduct and the GOP leadership's "response" to it.

The California Democrat's resolution would have called for an investigation of "when the Republican leadership was notified and what corrective action was taken."

Instead, Boehner made a motion that the Foley matter be sent to the House Ethics Committee, which passed 409-0.
I guess it's a good thing for Boehner that Pelosi's resolution wasn't voted on.  In it we find this:
Whereas these charges demand immediate investigation, including a determination of when the emails were sent, who knew of the emails, whether there was a pattern of inappropriate activity by Mr. Foley involving email or other contacts with pages or former pages, when the Republican leadership was notified, and what corrective action was taken once officials learned of any improper activity;
We all know that Rep Boehner knew about the allegations last spring though now he says he can not remember whether he told the House Speaker.
The resignation rocked the Capitol, and especially Foley's GOP colleagues, as lawmakers were rushing to adjourn for at least six weeks. House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) told The Washington Post last night that he had learned this spring of inappropriate "contact" between Foley and a 16-year-old page. Boehner said he then told House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.). Boehner later contacted The Post and said he could not remember whether he talked to Hastert.
An interesting side note is that our own Missy Hart was both a supporter of John Boehner in his race for a House leadership position AND is now a member of the "House Ethics Committee (a.k.a Committee of Standards of Official Conduct).

I'm curious to see how this all plays out.  I mean, what questions (if any) will Hart face about this as she continues to campaign?

I'll try to keep you posted.

Republican Leadership on Foley: What did they know and when did they know it?


As you may already know, Rep. Mark Foley, R-Fla., abruptly resigned from Congress yesterday after questionable emails that he had sent to a 16 year-old male congressional page surfaced. Later in the day, more emails to minors emerged that were not just questionable -- they were overtly and undeniably sexual.

Now we have the sickening spectacle of the corrupt Republican House leadership falling all over themselves trying to cover up the part they played in, well, covering this all up.

Apparently Foley was questioned about his inappropriate cybersex emails to minors as far back as eleven months ago by some in leadership positions in "God's Own Party." The "investagation" by Rep. John Shimkus, R-Ill., chairman of the Page Board seemed to go only as far as asking Foley if he was doing anything wrong and Foley answering "no" and the matter being dropped (They didn't even bother to try to replace him as co-chairman of the Missing and Exploited Children Caucus).

No House Democrat was informed of the allegations at the time.

The party of "moral values" are now backtracking as fast as they can from their initial interviews with the media where they said that House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.) was informed of the situation by House Majority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).

And the reaction from Foley's local Florida Republicans? They're only sorry that he was caught. From the Southwest Florida News-Press via Daily Kos:
  • "It's devastating," said Ruth McCarthy of Clewiston. "All I can say is it's a shame he was indiscreet."

  • "It's never good when you lose a good congressman," said Lee County's GOP state committeewoman Jan Ganter. "I think the people lost a good servant. So, I regret it."

  • Charlotte County Republican Executive Committee Robert Starr said he found out about Foley's resignation around 3 p.m. Friday and was surprised. He saw Foley at an event Sunday and said he looked fine. "First of all, I'm very surprised and very sad that Mark decided to resign," Starr said. "He's really been a friend to Charlotte County."
  • Yeah, the problem was that he was "indiscreet" and had to resign, not that he was cyber-fucking minors...

    Republicans: You just can't trust them with your children!

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

    (FYI: AmericaBlog is all over this story like Foley on a 16 year-old in a chat room white on rice.)
    **(Wish I could claim this design as my own!)

    Fall Gertrude Stein Club Fundraiser Today

    The Gertrude Stein Political Club of Greater Pittsburgh is the oldest gay / lesbian / bisexual / trans-gender feminist political organization in the Pittsburgh area. They support candidates who are good on these issues and lobby elected officials on legislation.

    They are holding a fundraiser hosted by Jeanne Clark today:

    When: Saturday, September 30th, from 1:00 p.m. until 4:00 p.m.
    Where: 414 Stratton Lane in Shadyside
    Cost: Tickets $25.00 for non-members and $10.00 for members

    September 29, 2006

    Reminder: National Day of Action (Tomorrow!)

    America Votes is organizing a National Day of Action this Saturday, September 30th.

    It will be a day for for hitting the streets and talking directly to voters about the importance of this year’s elections!

    Actions are planned across Pennsylvania including rallies in:
  • PITTSBURGH: City Councilman Bill Peduto and School Board Member Patrick Dowd will be on hand.

  • Plymouth Meeting: Former Congressman Joe Hoeffel, State Senator Connie Williams, AFL-CIO Political Director Karen Ackerman, and US Action Executive Director Jeff Blum will all participate.

  • Lehigh Valley: Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski will address the crowd of volunteers.
  • After the rallies, it's time to hit the streets to educate, register, and mobilize progressive voters. (America Votes will provide you with the training and materials that you need after the rallies.)

    In Pittsburgh:
    Saturday September 30th, 9AM
    Where: America Votes Southwest PA Headquarters, 401 N. Highland Ave., Pittsburgh, PA 15206

    Sign-up at or by calling 412-661-0843.

    From Oakland: Fifth Avenue toward Shadyside, then take a left onto Highland Avenue. After crossing Penn Avenue, look for Rippey on the left (across from Home Depot). Our office is in the rear of the Vintage Building From the East: Penn Avenue to Penn Circle. Follow the circle around to Home Depot. Turn right onto N Highland Ave; look for Rippey on the left (across from Home Depot. Our office is in the rear of the Vintage Building.

    From the North: From Highland Park Bridge, take Washington Blvd. Turn left onto Negley Run Ave. Turn right onto E Liberty Blvd. Turn left onto N Highland Ave. Look for Rippey on the right before Penn Circle.) Our office is in the rear of the VintageBuilding.

    From Downtown: Penn Avenue into East Liberty. Turn left onto N Highland Ave. After crossing Penn Circle N , look for Rippey on the left (across from Home Depot). Our office is in the rear of the Vintage Building.

    Rendell Events

    Canvass for Rendell/Casey
    Saturday 9/30

    PGH 14th Ward with Shelly Onorato!
    What: Canvass for Bob Casey and Governor Rendell in Squirrel Hill
    When: Saturday, September 30th from 10:30am-2pm
    Where: Meet at 1214 Denniston, Squirrel Hill

    From Downtown – Take 376 East, off at exit 5 to Squirrel Hill. Bear Right on the Ramp and a Left at Forward Ave (over the small bridge). Bear a slight Left onto Murray Ave, continue through the business district. Take a Right on Northumberland St, go .3 miles, then a Left at Denniston. .4 Miles down at the end of the street is 1214 Denniston.

    From the East – take 376 East, off at exit 7 to Edgewood/Swissvale. Take a Right on S. Braddock Ave, then a Left on Forbes. Go 1.1 miles on Forbes, then take a Right at Denniston St. Follow that to the end of the street, where 1214 Denniston is.

    From the North – Take the Highland Park Bridge and follow PA-8 S. Bear Right at Green Belt/Blue Belt and go .4 miles, continue on the Blue Belt. After Mellon Park, take a Right at Blue Belt, then a Left at Hastings. Turn Right on Denniston to the end of the street.

    PGH 17 (South Side) with the Young Democrats!
    Canvass for Bob Casey and Governor Rendell in the South Side
    When: Saturday, September 30th from 1pm-4pm
    Where: The Beehive, 1327 E Carson St

    From Downtown – Take the 10th St. Bridge, take a Left at E. Carson St., arrive at 1327 E. Carson.

    From the East – Take 376 West, take the PA-885 S exit 3A to Glenwood. Take a right at Bates St., then a Left at 2nd Ave and then a Right across the Hot Metal Bridge. Take a Right at E. Carson St. and arrive at 1327 Carson.

    Rendell Debate Party
    Wednesday, Oct. 4th

    Join the Rendell Campaign on Wednesday for their official debate party in Pittsburgh. They've rented out the top floor of a popular local pub to watch the debate live on their televisions.

    They're opening up the doors to all of the Governor's supporters -- free of charge.

    Buffalo Blues
    216 South Highland Avenue (in Shadyside)
    Pittsburgh, PA 15206

    Debate starts at 7:00 pm

    More details at:

    They just don't want us to vote

    New Poll Tax!

    Do you have a passport?

    How about an enhanced kind of driver's license or nondriver's identification, containing proof of citizenship?

    You don't?

    Well, then you won't be able to vote in 2010.

    And, if you don't have photo ID, you won't be able to vote in 2008.

    H.B. 4844 was passed in the U.S. House last week by the Republican majority. The legislation is tantamount to a poll tax (what folks used in the Old South to prevent Blacks from voting), as only 25% of Americans own passports, which cost about $100 to purchase. Poll taxes were eventually found to be unconstitutional, so of course now they are calling it a security measure even though "there is no evidence that a significant number of people are showing up at the polls pretending to be other people, or that a significant number of noncitizens are voting."

    Republicans simply want to suppress the vote because less people at the polls is good for Republicans and bad for Democrats. Hell, they probably are praying for rain on November 7th because rain makes voters melt away.

    But, you still have a chance to stop this bill from becoming law:

    The bill is up for review by the Senate. Call Senators Santorum (202-224-6324) and Specter (202-224-4254) and let them known that you oppose the new voter ID legislation.

    (More on this issue can be found here at The Nation.)

    Support Emergency Paper Ballots

    From True Majority:
    Congress is about to go home, but first tell them to protect the election by providing money for emergency paper ballots.

    Senators Boxer (D-CA) and Dodd (D-CT) have introduced a last-minute bill which would provide money to any state that is willing to print up the paper ballots. It's cheap, it's easy, and there's no reason not to do it. But time is short.

    Tell your Senator to support the emergency paper ballot bill. Take action today!
    Register to Vote By Text Message

    The League is making it possible for you to register to vote via text messaging.

    To register to vote by text message, send one of the following key words to 75444: "Pa" or "Pgh" or "LeaguePA" or "LeaguePgh" and you will get a text reply back telling you to enter your name and address. (The messages are sent via a secure channel and the information provided by registrants will be kept private.)

    Within days, a partially completed voter registration form will be mailed to your house, which you must then complete (sign and choose a party) and mail to the Allegheny County Elections Division.

    The address for the Allegheny County Elections Division is:
    Division of Elections
    Allegheny County
    542 Forbes Ave., Room 601
    Pittsburgh, PA 15219-2953

    Now, how much easier can they make it for you?

    (Post-Gazette article on this here.)

    Help Register Voters

    Traditional Field Training and Outreach
    Saturday, September 30th, 9AM- 1:00 PM

    Meet at America Votes, 401 Negley Ave, East Liberty

    The League is starting their traditional voter registration and outreach program! Help them door-knock in targeted areas throughout the City and join us for a rally at America Votes beforehand.

    Student-Led Canvass for Rendell/Casey
    Saturday, September 30th, 10:30 AM-2:00 PM
    Meet at Councilmember Bodack's Office
    4825 Butler Street, Lawrenceville

    The P-G doesn't like Rick Santorum Much

    Take a look at this editorial from today's paper.  It slams him on BOTH the residency issue and the cyberschool issue.

    Poor Ricky.
    Sen. Rick Santorum must rue the day he decided to out-source himself to the Washington, D.C., area in order to do Pennsylvania's business. The residency issue is one that refuses to go away -- and for good reason.

    The latest example is small in dollars but large in significance. In an attempt to put an end to a controversy about his residence in Virginia, Sen. Santorum has sent a letter to Allegheny County property assessment officials formally requesting that they remove the homestead exemption on the house he owns in Penn Hills.
    We've written about this recently here.  It's good to know (heh-heh) that the P-G isn't that far behind us.
    That Sen. Santorum should turn down the exemption is, of course, the right thing to do. Unfortunately, this is not a case of the senator leveling with his constituents. His letter insists that he is entitled to the exemption but he chooses not to take it because of the political furor.

    "My home in Penn Hills is my only residence in Pennsylvania and it has always been my primary residence or domicile," he says. That would be news to the neighbors in Penn Hills or, for that matter, those in Virginia where he has settled. After all, where he lives is not in serious dispute. Indeed, the famous campaign ad featuring his children opens with one of his sons innocently confirming the obvious: "My dad's opponents have criticized him for moving us to Washington so we can be with him more."
    But even that's a lie - as we wrote about here, the Santorum's don't live in "Washington."  They're about an hour outside of DC.  As I wrote back then, "a minor lie, but a lie nonetheless."
    Regular Pennsylvanians can only marvel at how the commonsensical meaning of primary residence or domicile is mocked here, but it isn't about plain meaning and all about maintaining a legal fiction. Sen. Santorum is pulling a Bill Clinton, who once parsed the meaning of "is" -- only the senator strains the definition of what a primary residence is. Surely it is something more than a place of occasional visits when the Senate is not in session.
    Let's take a look at that Rick's website has to say about all this.
    • I heard around the water cooler that Rick Santorum doesn't live in Pennsylvania.

    When Senator Santorum was elected to the U.S. Senate, he made a pledge to visit all of Pennsylvania's 67 counties each year. Pennsylvania is geographically-large and politically-diverse, and Rick Santorum has met that pledge every year for the twelve years he has served in the U.S. Senate, staying in close touch with every corner of the state. He is the first Senator in Pennsylvania's history to make and honor this pledge. Often times, Senator Santorum makes multiple visits to each county; he's been to Philadelphia 243 times, traveled around Allegheny County to over 300 events, and visited the Harrisburg area 142 times, just to cite a few examples.
    Notice that this paragraph has nothing to do with the question, a sure sign of a BS artist at work.

    When Rick Santorum served in the U.S. House of Representatives, his family lived in Pittsburgh and occasionally traveled with him to Washington, DC. This worked well in the House, which is in voting session Tuesday afternoon through Thursday afternoon about 30-35 weeks a year. But the Senate is very different. Typically, the Senate is in voting session from Monday afternoon to late Thursday night or Friday morning 35-40 weeks a year. Given that schedule, and at the time having three very young children, the Santorums decided it was best for their family to live in Washington, DC those 35-40 weeks out of the year. Since DC is close to Pennsylvania, even when the Senate is in session, Rick always spends Mondays and frequently Fridays and Saturdays in the state on official business. [emphasis added]
    So he admits to spending between 9 and 10 months of the year someplace other than Penn Hills, PA.  Can someone explain it to me (and to Ricky, I guess) how he still thinks he can get away with saying that his "primary residence" is in Penn Hills?

    - Just where does he live?  And where does he say he lives?  And why are they different places?

    September 28, 2006

    I Interviewed Bob Casey

    I interviewed Bob Casey this evening. No joke - he was on a cell phone in a busy (and noisy!) airport somewhere and I was in my quiet apartment in Shadyside.

    I knew he didn't have a lot of time so I wanted to make sure the first question was something interesting, so I worked it over for the last few days and came up with something that went like:
    Pundits from across the state have been saying that no matter what the polls look like, it's going to be a close race. Given that, and given the fact that Bob Casey is not from (and this was not meant as a criticism) the liberal wing of the Democratic Party, what is he doing, or planning on doing to reach out to that section of the electorate that has a political philosophy more left leaning than his? In other words, there are lots of people in the state that will vote for him precisely because he's NOT Rick Santorum, but will that be enough? And if not how will he be reaching out to the States progressives to make sure he has enough votes?
    Something like that.

    He started by saying that he was looking to make the choice very clear for the voters. On his side there's a "new direction" and on the other, there's "stay the course" with Bush/Cheney. He went beyond that rather simple dichotomy, however, and said that he's not going to be working on just the major priorities (Economy, War on Terror, etc) but also on getting back to the basics of the Democratic Party (Education, Fighting for the powerless, etc) and reiterated a few things that we've all known for a while - Santorum's 98% voting record with Bush and Santorum's connections to Big Oil.

    On Abortion specifically, he pointed out while he differs with the pro-choice community, he's hoped that his positions on other connected issues (family planning/caring for new mothers before and after the births of their children) would make a stronger case for a vote for Casey as opposed to a vote for Rick Santorum.

    I then went on to ask him about something I'd seen on his website. It's written there that if he were to be elected Senator, he'd ask the "tough questions" and "demand accountability" so I asked which tough questions, exactly? Accountability for what?

    That's when we began to talk about Iraq.

    He said that when a nation faces a very serious matter such as war, the very minimum a Senator (or House Member) should do - whatever the party affiliation - is to ask questions about all aspects the conflict. Here he pointed out that Rick Santorum didn't ask a single tough question about the war.

    Casey said he would have asked about the body armor, an exit strategy, whether there's a plan to disarm the militias (important now that there are issues of a nasty Civil War at hand) and so on. He would have asked how specifically the President would be working to bring the Oil production up to pre-war levels. Now, he said, all you get is spin from Bush and a rubber stamp from Santorum.

    On challenging questions in general, he said that as a Senator "It's your job" to ask them. He feels that of the two of them, he's a far more independent candidate than Santorum is - much to the consternation of his party.

    I'd read in a few places on line that the RNC or the RSCC claimed that we'd only seen the beginning of the negative campaigning from the GOP. I asked him if he had a general strategy for dealing with it. What happens, I asked him, when Rick produces a TV ad that puts him in a motel room with Jane Fonda and Janeane Garofalo?

    (That was a hypothetical, of course, but if the Santorum campaign stoops so low as to actually produce such an ad and considering the "Jailhouse/Campaign Team" ad, I wouldn't put it past them, remember you read it here first.)

    He chuckled a bit at that and said that in general the number of negative ads coming out of the Stantorum camp really speaks to their character and a sense of desperation. He's fully expecting the same "blizzard of fear and smear" from them. This time, however, he doesn't expect it to work. Consider this: the poll numbers haven't moved much, even after the Santorum crowd has spent roughly $10 million on TV ads.

    God, I hope he's right.


    News on the Altmire Campaign

    Got a press release this afternoon that says that Jason Altmire's been added on to the DCCC "Emerging Races" list. From the DCCC page.
    The DCCC Emerging Races list is made up of candidates who have taken traditionally non-competitive districts and, through the strength of their campaigns, put themselves in a position to win in November.
    So I guess this means that the DCCC thinks Altmire can win. But here's the real news (again from the DCCC website):
    “With less than two months to go, the DCCC is excited to give our top candidates the necessary strategic and financial boost they will need to win in November,said Congressman Rahm Emanuel, Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee."
    See that? FINANCIAL BOOST.

    That has to be good news for the Altmire Campaign and bad news for the Hart Campaign.

    From the press release:
    “I am grateful for this vote of confidence from the DCCC. Their decision to add my campaign to the Emerging Races list clearly demonstrates the strong momentum my campaign has been gaining in recent weeks,” said Altmire.

    The decision by the DCCC to include Altmire’s campaign on the Emerging Races list comes after a recent poll showing a statistical dead heat in Pennsylvania’s 4th district. Vulnerable incumbent Melissa Hart fell under the majority mark with 48% to Altmire’s 44%. These numbers fall within the poll’s 4.9% margin of error.
    Just think - all this in a district that Missy Hart won with a whopping 63% of the vote two years ago.

    (Not quite) Live Nudes!

    Art Teacher Loses Job After Kids See Nude Sculpture
    Children Were On School-Approved Field Trip

    An award-winning Texas art teacher who was reprimanded after one of her fifth-grade students saw a nude sculpture during a trip to a museum has lost her job.

    The school board in Frisco has voted not to renew Sydney McGee's contract after 28 years. She has been on administrative leave.


    The Fisher Elementary School art teacher came under fire last April when she took 89 fifth-graders on a field trip to the Dallas Museum of Art. Parents raised concerns over the field trip after their children reported seeing a nude sculpture at the art museum.

    The parents had signed permission slips allowing their children to take part in the field trip.

    McGee's lawyer said the principal at Fisher Elementary School admonished her after a parent complained that a student had seen nude art.
    Q. What kind of people don't know that a major museum in a major US city would in all likelihood contain a nude or two?
    A. People in Texas.

    Q. What kind of people want to get an art teacher fired for "exposing" their children to the kind of nude art you'd see in the Dallas Museum of Art?
    A. People in Texas.

    Q. What kind of people would fire a teacher for this "offense" after the school had approved the field trip?
    A. People in Texas.

    Q. What should be done about this now?
    A. There's only one remedy: kick Texas out of the US.


    FYI: Here are some of the nudes that these obviously traumatized-for-life little Texas kiddies could have been exposed to at the Dallas Museum of Art:

    Nude Dude

    Nude Lady

    Semi-nude lady

    Semi-nude lady in the museum's Scupture Garden
    (outside and everything!)

    (h/t to Spork)

    Keith Olbermann asks "What did Bush do?"

    In case you didn't now, George W. Bush did virtually nothing to prevent 9/11 from happening including:
  • In February 2001, the Taliban in Afghanistan offered that they were ready to hand over Osama Bin Laden to Saudi Arabia if the US would drop it's sanctions. There is no record of any substantive discussion of that matter by the Bush Administration (you know, they hate diplomacy). Of course, charges are still made by Wingnuts to this day that Clinton dropped an offer by Sudan on Bin Laden even though that claim has been debunked in the 9/11 Commission Report.

  • The Bush Administration did nothing in retaliation for the USS Cole attack. Yes, I said "Bush" did nothing about the Cole. Again, despite wingers trying to lay this off on Clinton, it was confirmed that the Cole attack was Al Qaeda backed during Bush's term, not Clinton's.

  • More on Condoleezza Rice's lie (blogged on by Dayvoe here) that the Clinton Team did not leave them with a "comprehensive strategy to fight al Qaeda."
  • When dealing with Republicans, you always need to remember that one of their favorite tactics is to project their own sins on to Democrats. Generally speaking, the more they attack Democrats on an issue, the more likely they are to be guilty themselves.

    You can watch the entire report here:

    Finally, A Sane Religious Republican

    I saw this at the Washington Post website this morning and I could barely believe my eyes.
    The potency of the Christian right in the Republican Party is limited, former senator John C. Danforth of Missouri is telling audiences this month. A lifelong Republican moderate disturbed by his party's direction, he contends that the political center has a future.

    Describing himself as a "a Republican for the old reasons," Danforth, 70, is promoting a new book that describes religion as a divisive force in the United States today and accuses the religious right and its political supporters of creating a sectarian party. [emphasis added]
    A Republican believes this? A religious Republican?

    There's this as well:
    "The problem with many conservative Christians is that they claim that God's truth is knowable, that they know it, and that they are able to reduce it to legislative form," Danforth writes. "The popular question, 'What would Jesus do?' can be difficult enough to contemplate with respect to everyday interpersonal relations. It is mind boggling when applied to the complex world of politics."
    I wonder how long the party of Santorum will even let this guy into the clubhouse.

    But the Washington Post isn't the only place Danforth's getting press. Here's something from Gannett News.
    Former Republican Sen. John Danforth of Missouri urged his party Wednesday to "disengage" from the Christian right, saying religion has become too divisive a force in American politics.

    Danforth, 70, an Episcopal priest, said politics today is too polarized and that the GOP spends too much time trying to appeal to the Christian right, the base of the party.
    Amen, brother. Later on in the piece:
    Most Americans don't want a religious party, he said. He added that the GOP is drifting away from the center of American politics by using religion to divide the electorate.

    Gay marriage, Danforth said, is an example of how Republicans are pandering to the Christian right. The issue lacks substance and is used to "make people angry and win political support," he said.

    As a senator for 18 years, Danforth said he "spent every day worrying about the budget and never worried a minute about gay marriage. Now it's the other way around."
    There's this from the Kansas City Star:
    “I’d like to see our party debate whether or not we’re a religious party,” Danforth said Wednesday over eggs and sausage with reporters. “Do we attempt to energize a base, or do we try to reconstitute a center in American politics? … I’m trying to create a backlash.”
    Take a look at that. In order for there to be a debate, there has to be people who agree and those who disagree with the statement that the GOP is a religious party. Danforth obviously sees that there's enough disagreement within the Republican party for there to be a debate.

    I'd like to say that I like this guy, but as soon as the words begin to form themselves in my brain, I remember that he's the one who brought us Clarence Thomas. Oh well. Life's messy sometimes.

    September 27, 2006

    Santorum’s Main Problem is Santorum

    Rick Santorum's favorite reporter, Brett Lieberman offers up another gift to Lil Ricky.
    It’s all about Rick Santorum.

    No matter what the Republican senator says or does or how many television ads he runs, he remains unable to sway many voters’ negative opinion about him, according to pollsters and every public poll on the U.S. Senate election.

    “Santorum’s main problem is Santorum,” said Clay F. Richards, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute, which released a poll yesterday that shows Democrat Robert P. Casey Jr. has doubled his lead in the last month.
    The Patriot-News reporter reports.
    “His negatives have just wiped him out,” Richards said of Santorum.

    The Quinnipiac poll, based in Hamden, Conn., which shows Casey leading 54 percent to 40 percent among likely voters, comes on the heels of several recent surveys that show millions of dollars in advertising, a focus on immigration reform and the threat of Islamic fascism have done little to help Santorum narrow the deficit.
    The Other Political Junkie mentioned this recently (well, yesterday). I'm just having too much fun blogging about it.
    Only about one in three Pennsylvanians has a favorable opinion of Santorum, polls say, a number that his re-election campaign has not been able to alter despite ads about his work on homeland security, welfare reform and the environment.
    "Santorum's reputation in the state was pretty established, and there wasn't much more for people to learn," said Michael Hagen, a Temple University researcher who conducted a recent poll for The Philadelphia Inquirer that showed Casey with a 10-point lead.
    Here's the part that has to worry Ricky:
    Hagen said he was "astounded" when 24 percent of voters surveyed rated Santorum a zero on a scale of zero to 10. Twenty-six percent of independents -- a key group for which Casey and Santorum are competing -- rated him as zero as well.
    The part that has to worry Ricky is not that Hagen was astounded, but that a quarter of the population scored him a zero out of ten. That about sums it up.

    - How much more can we dislike him?

    Bobbing For Truth

    I'm thinking that I should just not watch TV anymore. I should probably forgo the Internet, newspapers and magazines as well. I would feel a lot better. It would do wonders for my blood pressure and for my voice. I would no longer be compelled to scream at the screen. I would be a happier person.

    I mention this because as I was watching Rep. Joe Wilson (R-SC) and Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) early this morning on C-SPAN's Washington Journal go through the same old slippery logic and lies on torture and Iraq and the NIE assessment, I had what is becoming an increasing familiar feeling.

    As Wilson went on about doing whatever is necessary to fight terrorism (read: torture, suspension of habeas corpus, conferring the rights of a king on this president); as he used the Republican talking points about stirring up a hornets nest (we're breeding hornets, you ass, not stirring them up!); as he claimed we went there (Iraq) because that's were the terrorists were (they weren't until we went there); as Hoekstra continued later with poo-pooing the NIE report; a rage built up within me.

    It started when Wilson tried to claim that waterboarding wasn't really torture, and if it was, it doesn't matter. It grew and grew as a caller reminded Wilson that if the Geneva Conventions are as "vague" as Bush claims then why doesn't Bush and his minions spell out exactly what torture is rather than saying it is whatever Bush says it is or isn't.

    It reached its peak when I had to acknowledge once again to myself that I now live in a country which will no longer state that it doesn't believe in torture. A country which no longer believes in habeas corpus -- one of the backbones of a free society.

    And then my thoughts turned to Fall.

    No, not "The Fall" (though the thought of sin would be appropriate here as is how much torture must make The Little Baby Jesus cry who I'm sure these representatives all claim they believe in).

    No, my thoughts turned to Autumn. The changing leaves. The harvest.

    And, bobbing for apples.

    And at that point, I realized that I wanted to have a big, shiny, galvanized metal tub. I wanted that tub to be filled with sparkling, clean, fresh, cool water.

    And apples!

    Big crisp, shiny apples! Golden Delicious apples! Fujis, Galas and Winesaps!

    I wanted the tub to be brought onto the Washington Journal set.

    I wanted Rep. Wilson to be blindfolded and for him to be taken to the tub and told to start bobbing for the crisp, shiny apples.

    I wanted to watch him be a good sport and play along and dip his head into the tub.

    However, when he would inevitably try to come up for air, I wanted a hand to push his head back into the big shiny galvanized metal tub. As he struggled, he would hear a voice say that he would not be allowed back up until he said "waterboarding is torture."

    As his gasping grew stronger and it was obvious that he was near drowned, the hand would pull his head out of the water.

    The representative of my government would be coughing, crying, snot running out of his nose -- trying to regain his breath.

    He might even vomit a little into the tub.

    At that point, his head would be pushed back into the tub.

    This would be repeated. If he passed out, he would be revived and the "bobbing" would continue.

    He would endure more "bobbing" until he managed to repeat the words, "waterboarding is torture."

    He'd have to bob again until he said, "America does not torture."

    Then he'd have to bob again until he cried "Uncle!" or "My Mom's a ho!" because, you know, torture is stressful on the torturer too and everyone would need a little laugh by that point.

    And, then he'd be incarcerated in some undisclosed location until...whenever. (After all, we'd only went over torture and hadn't addressed the whole habeas corpus thingy yet.)

    And, the really cool thing is if I was, say, a CIA agent or army interrogator, the above FANTASY would be perfectly legal according to Wilson, himself, as long as George W. Bush had declared him an enemy combatant based on George W. Bush's sole discretion as to what and who an enemy combatant is.

    Wow! Glad I got that off my chest.

    I must say that it feels good to feel like a true patriotic American again -- one who embraces torture -- just like the Republicans do.

    Welcome me back to the fold, won't you?

    Condoleezza Rice caught in a lie

    Via Rawstory.

    Here's how the story begins:
    A memo received by United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice shortly after becoming National Security Advisor in 2001 directly contradicts statements she made to reporters yesterday, RAW STORY has learned.

    "We were not left a comprehensive strategy to fight al Qaeda," Rice told a reporter for the New York Post on Monday. "Big pieces were missing," Rice added, "like an approach to Pakistan that might work, because without Pakistan you weren't going to get Afghanistan."
    And here's the link to the document Richard Clarke included in a memo to (now wait for it) Condoleezza Rice. The title of the document?

    Strategy for Eliminating the Threat of al Qida: Status and Prospects

    Of course there was no comprehensive strategy. In that document (page 5 of 13) you can read this:
    The United States goal is to roll back the al Qida network to a point where it will no longer pose a serious threat to the US or its interests, as was done previously to robust terrorist groups such as the Abu Nidal organization and the Japanese Red Army. In order to significanly reduce the threat, al Qida poses to US interests, every element of its infrastructure must be considerably weakened or eliminated, most notably:
    It then goes on to list things like the facility structure in Afghanistan, al Qida's funding, recruiting, etc.

    The next section is titled, Implementing the Strategy: The Record to Date

    Do I really need to go on with this?

    She lied. She lied. Condoleezza Rice lied to the American people to cover up the incompetence of her boss - the President of the United States.

    - A Liar.

    September 26, 2006

    Lil Ricky Santorum Caves! Admits that he doesn't really live here anymore.

    Why else would "Santorum withdraws tax break claim for Penn Hills house" (as the headline reads)?

    Because he know that he doesn't really live in PENNSYLVANIA.

    From the Post-Gazette:

    U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum no longer claims a contentious property tax exemption on a home in suburban Pittsburgh, according to Allegheny County real estate records.
    Actually, as the article further states:
    The change came before Allegheny County Council was scheduled to vote on legislation calling for strengthened oversight -- and in some cases prosecution -- of property owners who improperly claim a "homestead exemption."

    The exemption is a property-tax break that can only be claimed on a primary residence. It is worth about $70 a year.
    We wrote about County Council's resolution here.

    Lil Ricky's wrongfully taking a Homestead Exemption was originally brought to light by the Santorum Cybergate blog all the way back in January of 2005.

    The cause was then taken up by Democracy for Pittsburgh (DfP) members who gathered petitions asking Allegheny County officials to look into the matter.

    DfP held a press conference and then took the petitions to a scheduled meeting with District Attorney Stephen Zappala, Jr. (Both Political Junkies attended this meeting.)

    Zappala turned the matter over to the county manager.

    Meanwhile, the National Republican Senatorial Committee got involved suggesting that DfP was backed by George Soros (I'm still waiting for my check, George!) and that DfP were "purveyors of porn." Santorum merely called us “rabid Democrat activists” working at “the behest of Casey and others.” (More DfP press here.)

    At that point the county more or less dropped the ball when they announced that they couldn't find the original exemption form.

    But, then the Allegheny County Council picked the ball up and tossed it at Sen. Man-On-Dog (R-VA).

    Council President Rich Fitzgerald spoke about the matter on PCNC's Night Talk. The show's host, Ann Devlin, said that Santorum had claimed that he had already asked verbally to be taken off the exemption list. Fitzgerald reminded Ann that a request like that needed to be in writing -- no special privileges for senators or anyone else.

    And, so faced with the prospect of a stronger law (and possible prosecution):


    Just like the WATB he is:

    Of course, Ricky's still claiming that he's in the right:

    In a letter dated Sept. 18, Mr. Santorum requested that county officials remove his name from the tax-exemption list. Mr. Santorum wrote that his Penn Hills home is his primary residence and that he qualifies for the exemption, but that he was voluntarily giving it up.

    "Because the tax status of my home has been the subject of recent news reports . . . I have voluntarily elected not to claim the homestead exemption for my Penn Hills residence," he wrote in a letter obtained by The Associated Press.
    But he isn't.

    And he isn't right when he made all Pennsylvania taxpayers pay for his children's special cyber-schooling. He needs to PAY IT BACK now and stop nickel-and-diming those who actually live here -- those who he's paid to serve.

    Then, we need to vote on November 7th and ensure that Sen. MAN-ON-DOG STAYS (in VA).

    Good News from Fox News

    No, they haven't folded up shop and left the business, but they are reporting this:
    HARRISBURG, Pa. — Democrat Bob Casey appears to have doubled his lead over Sen. Rick Santorum in Pennsylvania's Senate race, according to a poll released Tuesday.

    Casey had a 14-point lead in the Quinnipiac University Poll, with 54 percent of likely voters saying they planned to vote for him compared to 40 percent for Santorum. One percent said they wouldn't vote and 6 percent said they didn't know. Casey had a seven point lead among likely voters in a match up between the two in the same poll on Aug. 15.

    On Monday, a state judge said Green Party candidate Carl Romanelli would be removed from the ballot because the party did not have enough valid signatures in its nominating petitions _ a move pundits said would help Casey.

    In a three-way matchup, Casey led Santorum 51 to 39 percent among likely voters with 4 percent saying they would vote for Romanelli, the poll found. Five percent were undecided.
    As W would say: Hehehehehe

    However, I'm not certain if they reported this:
    A classified National Intelligence Estimate says that the War on Iraq has "helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks."

    Jason Altmire Interivew

    I was lucky enough to snag some interview time last night with Jason Altmire, candidate for Melissa Hart's congressional seat.

    He was nothing if not quietly solidly optimistic about the race.

    Those Poll numbers.

    Recently, the Altmire campaign released some poll numbers that showed it to be within striking distance of Missy Hart - a point that the Hart campaign vigorously and quickly denied, of course.

    Here's the story from Altmire: Back in June they took a poll that showed them down 53/39 percent. But as the summer progressed he began to feel that, based on what he'd heard on the campaign trail, things were changing. A few weeks ago word got back to him that the Hart campaign had done a poll (still curiously unreleased by the Hart camp) that showed the two candidates within the margin of error.

    Altmire then turned to his pollster and asked for a poll to be done - to see if indeed the numbers were that close.

    And, according to the pollster, they were.

    Though with only a 21% name recognition, it has to be assumed that a large chunk of his support is anti-Hart rather than pro-Altmire.

    To Altmire, it's all a matter of getting the voters comfortable with him. He sites the June poll numbers. In June the pollsters asked whether the person being polled would vote for Melissa Hart "or someone else." The results, with Altmire at a 16% name recognition at the time, were a close 50/45 in favor of Hart.

    Seems to be lotsa folks in that district that aren't big fans of Missy - go figure.

    Out campaigning, he said he's met by people who say, "If you're running against Melissa Hart, you've got my vote." He's confident that once the voters get to know him better and see the differences between his campaign and Hart's more clearly, the numbers will look even better.

    The differences between the two

    To Altmire, Melissa Hart is just another part of Bush's "rubber stamp" Congress - she votes 93% of the time with Bush, supports Bush's war, etc while still trying to present herself as an "independent voice in Washington."

    One big difference can be found in the candidates' attitude toward Social Security. Melissa Hart brought Vice President Cheney to town a while back to drum up support for the President's plan to privatize it. Altmire opposes privitization. He said it would be a "disaster" to move Social Security to Wall Street. He added that it's "exactly the wrong thing to do."

    The system's worked for 71 years and it's problems are certainly correctable without the president's plan. One of Altmire's solutions is to raise the $92,000 cap on personal (but not business) payroll taxes. So for those making less than $92K, the change is meaningless while still increasing the revenue for Social Security.

    On prescription drugs, the candidates differ as well. The cost is "spiralling out of control" said Altmire. Hart voted against allowing the reimportation of drugs from Canada. He called the recent prescription drub plan "ludicrous." Group discounts were banned, leading to higher profits for Pharmaceutical companies. Allowing for those discounts (as Altmire supports) would have saved tax payers billions of dollars - billions of dollars.

    National Exposure

    Altmire said that Carl Cameron of Fox News sat with both campaigns yesterday (the piece should be broadcast today) and so the race is certainly getting national exposure. DNC chair Howard Dean was in the area a few weeks ago. And while admitting some differences with the party Nationally on some issues he said he's confident that he's instep with the voters of his district - far more than Melissa Hart as there are 55,000 more democrats than republicans there.

    He had a rhetorical question for the voters: Why would you stay with an administration that has been so wrong on so many things?

    Given Hart's "stay the course" loyalty to the Bush administration, well you can finish the sentence, yourselves.

    "I know we can win this race," he said, "It's for real."

    Technorati Tags:,

    "just a comma"

    That's what El Presidente Bush believes that the War on Iraq will look like someday.

    "just a comma"

    I'm sure that make the families of the dead and wounded soldiers and Iraqi civilians feel really, really special.

    We, at 2pj, think that Dear Leader looks like just an ass right now.

    Maybe he felt compelled to say that because a classified National Intelligence Estimate says that the War on Iraq has "helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks."

    For those keeping track, this is what a comma looks like:


    This is what the War on Iraq looks like:

    The Dead:

    Those Who Mourn Them:

    The shredded limbs, cracked skulls, and burnt flesh of the Innocent Iraqi Children:

    Do they look like "just a comma" to you?

    When can we impeach this sociopathic bastard?

    Taking it to the streets!

    From NARAL:
    Question: What happens when two NARAL Pro-Choice America staff members get their hands on a video camera?

    Answer: You get fun, simple ways to help win back a pro-choice Congress in November.

    We started the Amber and Jen Project to help win back a pro-choice Congress on November 7th. We've been fighting on the front lines at NARAL Pro-Choice America, doing everything we can to protect the values of freedom, privacy, and personal responsibility, and this is the next step. It will take six victories to put the U.S. Senate in pro-choice hands and 15 seats to put pro-choice leaders in charge of the House. With your help, we will win. And have fun doing it.

    We're making the Amber and Jen Project for everyone, but we especially want people our age to check it out.

    Getting started is easier than you think. We've got two informative and fun - mostly fun! - videos for you to watch.
  • Check out our new video, "Taking it to the Streets," to learn how to spread the word in your area, armed with only flyers, tape, and scissors. Click here to watch.
  • In case you missed it, check out the first episode of The Amber and Jen Project: The 3 Ps, all about getting your friends to pledge to vote pro-choice on November 7th.

  • If you're ready now, click here to get the flyer, and start spreading the word. Take a photo of yourself with the flyers you put up and email them to with your name and address. We'll send you a "Pro-Choice? Follow me to the polls" bumper sticker.

    Remember, Casey and Altmire are not pro choice, BUT voting for them can lead to a PRO CHOICE MAJORITY CONTROL OF CONGRESS!

    Another reason why we need Democrats in control in Congress:
    A classified
    National Intelligence Estimate says that the War on Iraq has "helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks."

    Progress Pittsburgh Blog Update has had a major update. The blog is now part of the front page and it is easy to add comments and join the discussion.

    The RSS feed is: feed:

    If you would like to post to the blog please contact Lindsay for further instructions.

    By the way:
    A classified
    National Intelligence Estimate says that the War on Iraq has "helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks."

    Save this Date: Sat., Sept. 30th

    America Votes Day of Action - Canvass in Pittsburgh, PA

    Mark your calendars now, the America Votes coalition is organizing a national Day of Action on Saturday, September 30th, 2006. Head to our office in Pittsburgh for a rally and then hit the streets to speak with voters.

    Sign up now to get involved!

    Participating groups include Clean Water Action, League of Young Voters, Planned Parenthood, SEIU Nurses, Sierra Club, Vote Kids, Working Families Win.

    When: Saturday, September 30, 2006, 9 AM

    Where: America Votes Headquarters, 401 N. Highland Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206 See Map

    REGISTER ONLINE HERE; or contact: La'Tasha Mayes at 412.661.0846; or email

    For more info on America Votes, visit

    Volunteer on National Election Action Day to win FREE tickets to the America Votes-sponsored SOUL GARDEN the evening of September 30.

    And, did you know?
    A classified
    National Intelligence Estimate says that the War on Iraq has "helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks."

    September 25, 2006

    Keith Olbermann - again

    Read the commentary here.

    Now go read it again.

    Here are some highlights:
    The Bush Administration did not try to get Osama bin Laden before 9/11.

    The Bush Administration ignored all the evidence gathered by its predecessors.

    The Bush Administration did not understand the Daily Briefing entitled "Bin Laden Determined To Strike in U.S."

    The Bush Administration did not try.

    Moreover, for the last five years one month and two weeks, the current administration, and in particular the President, has been given the greatest “pass” for incompetence and malfeasance in American history!
    After five years of skirting even the most inarguable of facts—that he was president on 9/11 and he must bear some responsibility for his, and our, unreadiness, Mr. Bush has now moved, unmistakably and without conscience or shame, towards re-writing history, and attempting to make the responsibility, entirely Mr. Clinton’s.

    Of course he is not honest enough to do that directly.
    Here's the Bush draft of our history:
    The basic plot-line was this: because he was distracted by the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Bill Clinton failed to prevent 9/11.
    And then Olbermann's reaction:
    Had it been true that Clinton had been distracted from the hunt for bin Laden in 1998 because of the Monica Lewinsky nonsense, why did these same people not applaud him for having bombed bin Laden’s camps in Afghanistan and Sudan on Aug. 20, of that year? For mentioning bin Laden by name as he did so?

    That day, Republican Senator Grams of Minnesota invoked the movie "Wag The Dog."

    Republican Senator Coats of Indiana questioned Mr. Clinton’s judgment.

    Republican Senator Ashcroft of Missouri—the future attorney general—echoed Coats.

    Even Republican Senator Arlen Specter questioned the timing.

    And of course, were it true Clinton had been “distracted” by the Lewinsky witch-hunt, who on earth conducted the Lewinsky witch-hunt?

    Who turned the political discourse of this nation on its head for two years?

    Who corrupted the political media?

    Who made it impossible for us to even bring back on the air, the counter-terrorism analysts like Dr. Richard Haass, and James Dunegan, who had warned, at this very hour, on this very network, in early 1998, of cells from the Middle East who sought to attack us, here?

    Who preempted them in order to strangle us with the trivia that was, “All Monica All The Time”?

    Who distracted whom?

    He continues:
    Thus was it left for the previous president to say what so many of us have felt; what so many of us have given you a pass for in the months and even the years after the attack:

    You did not try.

    You ignored the evidence gathered by your predecessor.

    You ignored the evidence gathered by your own people.

    Then, you blamed your predecessor.

    That would be a textbook definition, Mr. Bush, of cowardice.
    I'll let Olbmermann end with some choice words from 1984:
    "The Party seeks power entirely for its own sake. We are not interested in the good of others; we are interested solely in power...

    "Power is not a means; it is an end.

    "One does not establish a dictatorship to safeguard a revolution; one makes the revolution in order to establish the dictatorship.

    "The object of persecution, is persecution. The object of torture, is torture. The object of power… is power."
    Go read it again.

    Technorati Tag:


    If Bin Laden is already dead or dying, it will be as a free man in his own bed.


    Bill Clinton Smacks Down Fox News

    Clinton: “But at least I tried. That’s the difference in me and some,
    including all of the right-wingers who are attacking me now.”

    From an admittedly unscientific AOL Poll:

    Do you believe President Clinton did enough to try to kill or capture bin Laden?
    Yes 54%

    No 46%
    Total Votes: 116,705

    Was Clinton's anger at the question justified?
    Yes 58%
    No 42%
    Total Votes: 4,635

    Santorum Corrupt

    So says Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.
    Sen. Rick Santorum is a second-term Senator from Pennsylvania. Sen. Santorum’s ethics issues stem from the manner in which he funded his children’s education and his misuse of his legislative position in exchange for contributions to his political action committee and his re-election campaign.
    Then they go to work. On the cyberschool thing:
    Sen. Santorum lives with his wife and children in Leesburg, Virginia spending, according to the Senator, “maybe a month a year, something like that” in a home he owns in Penn Hills, Pennsylvania, but from 2001 to 2005, five of Sen. Santorum’s six children attended a Pennsylvania cyber charter school in Penn Hills, PA, at an estimated cost to local taxpayers of $72,000. In December 2004, the superintendent of the school district sent a letter to the Pennsylvania Department of Education questioning why the school district had to pay for Sen. Santorum’s children’s education. Although the Penn Hills school district initially lost its bid to recover tuition, the Pennsylvania Department of Education agreed to settle the matter in September 2006, by offering the district $55,000.

    The fact that Sen. Santorum ignored the Penn Hills school district’s residency requirements and enrolled his children in a cyber school in Pennsylvania at a time when the children clearly resided in Virginia -- at significant cost to Pennsylvania taxpayers -- demonstrates a level of dishonesty that brings the reputation and integrity of the Senate into question. As a result, the Select Committee on Ethics should investigate this matter.
    And the loan for his primary (which is what it is) house in Virginia:
    In 2002, Sen. Santorum and his wife received a $500,000 five-year mortgage for their Leesburg, Virginia home from a small, private Philadelphia bank, The Philadelphia Trust Company, that makes loans only to the bank’s own affluent investors. Sen. Santorum’s taking the loan violates Senate gift rules, which prohibit Senate employees from accepting loans not available to the general public.
    The entire report on Rick Santorum can be found here.

    I did find some interesting tidbits in the footnotes. Rick has admitted that he spends most of his time out of the state of Pennsylvania (see above), but as recently as December, 2004 he said it was "absurd" not to consider him a resident of Penn Hills. Take a look:
    Santorum said yesterday that he intends to register the children for home schooling in Penn Hills, where he considers himself a resident.

    Santorum said it was "absurd" to conclude he doesn't reside there and that the controversy is politically motivated. [emphasis added]
    Go read the report - the section on the mortage of his house in Virginia is very interesting indeed. I'll just go through the highlights:
    In 2002, Sen. Santorum and his wife received a $500,000 five-year mortgage for their Leesburg, Virginia home from a small, private Philadelphia bank, The Philadelphia Trust Company (“Philadelphia Trust”), that makes loans only to affluent investors. Philadelphia Trust advertises itself as an independent private bank for investors who have liquid assets of at least $250,000. The bank’s web site states that “banking services are available only to investment advisory clients whose portfolios we manage, oversee or administer.” The bank confirmed to the Philadelphia Daily News that it offers mortgages only to investors and not to the general public.
    The rule in question:
    Rule 35, paragraph 1(a)(1) of the Senate Code of Official Conduct states that “No
    Member, officer or employee of the Senate shall knowingly accept a gift except as
    provided in this rule.” The Ethics Manual defines “gift” to mean “any gratuity, favor, discount, entertainment, hospitality, loan, forebearance, or other item having monetary value. The term includes gifts of services, training, transportation, lodging and meals, whether provided in kind, by purchase of a ticket, payment in advance, or reimbursement after the expense has been incurred.”

    Rule 35, paragraph 1(c)(19)(E) allows Members, officers, and employees to
    accept opportunities and benefits that are available to a wide group, specifically
    providing that they may accept “loans from banks and other financial institutions on
    terms generally available to the public.”
    They then go on to show that Rick didn't meet the criteria for getting the loan from that private bank and they point out that it wasn't generally available to the public etc.

    He violated rule 35.

    Rick Santorum - Ethics Rule violator.

    Terror Card

    As The New York Times reports that a classified National Intelligence Estimate attributes that the Iraq War has "helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks" and The Nation reports that "the Bush Administration and the Pentagon have moved up the deployment of a major "strike group" of ships, including the nuclear aircraft carrier Eisenhower as well as a cruiser, destroyer, frigate, submarine escort and supply ship, to head for the Persian Gulf, just off Iran's western coast," the Republican Rubber Stamp Congress scurries to retroactively protect Bush and his Administration from any criminal charges they may face from their use of preemptive war, torture, illegal imprisonments, kangaroo courts, and spying on the American people.

    What have we come to as a country when we give a president not only the power to "interpret the meaning and application" of the Geneva Convention (putting our own fighting men and women at risk), but the power to interpret every law and bill that Congress creates through his radical and outrageous use of signing statements?

    Where does Bush's power end?

    How have the terrorists not already won?


    From Talking Points Memo:
    "Do yourself and your country a favor this morning.

    Call up your representative and senators -- Republican or Democrat, it doesn't matter -- and tell them you want the April National Intelligence Estimate ("Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States") released to the public. Now. Before the election. So the public can know what the White House has been keeping from them."

    September 24, 2006

    Ten Points Down

    Remember when Rick Santorum was "closing the gap" in the poll numbers? From CNN on August 15):
    Sen. Rick Santorum (R) has gained significant ground in the last two months on State Treasurer Robert Casey (D), who is challenging him for his Pennsylvania Senate seat, a new Quinnipiac University poll released this morning shows. But Santorum still faces an uphill battle to win re-election, as 49 percent of Pennsylvania likely voters say that the incumbent should not be re-elected.

    The poll says that Casey leads Santorum 48 percent to 42 percent among likely voters, with Green Party candidate Carl Romanelli collecting 5 percent and the remaining 5 percent of voters undecided. In a head-to-head match-up, Casey has a 47 percent to 40 percent advantage over Santorum, while a June 21 poll by the university had Casey leading Santorum 52 percent to 34 percent.
    Then there was this ten days later:
    After having lagged by as much as twenty-three percentage points this election season, Republican Senator Rick Santorum now trails Democrat Bob Casey, Jr. by only eight, 40% to 48% (see crosstabs).

    Until now the incumbent has failed to pull within single digits of his opponent. Last month, Santorum suffered an eleven-point deficit in our poll, which he'd shaved from fifteen points in June. But Santorum had also been eleven points behind in March...a gap that in May more than doubled.
    As Ponyboy Curtis might say, that was then, this is now. From the Philadelphia Inquirer:
    Disapproval of President Bush remains a powerful undertow in Pennsylvania politics, threatening Republican candidates for the U.S. Senate and House, according to a new poll by Temple University and The Inquirer.

    The Bush effect - strongest in the southeast region - is acting as a drag on Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum, and tugs at GOP House incumbents in the suburbs of Philadelphia, who are locked in three of the nation's most competitive races.

    Democrat Bob Casey Jr., the state treasurer, led Santorum, 49 percent to 39 percent, among the 666 likely voters polled. Three percent of respondents favored Green Party candidate Carl Romanelli, and 8 percent said they were undecided. [emphasis added]
    Ten Points down. We're six weeks (or so) away from the election and Lil Ricky's ten points down. That does not bode well at all - for him.

    Some more bad news for the Senator:
    "Some of the reason Santorum trails is due to national forces, but it's not the whole story," said pollster Michael G. Hagen, an associate professor of political science at Temple and director of the school's Institute for Public Affairs.

    "It is also about his candidacy and his personality," Hagen said.

    The Temple/Inquirer Poll asked respondents to rate their feelings toward candidates for Senate and governor on a scale of zero to 10.

    Twenty-four percent of likely voters gave Santorum a zero, far more than any other candidate. Democrats were the most hostile, but 51 percent of independents rated Santorum below 5 - and 26 percent of these voters gave him a zero.
    A quarter of those polled gave him a zero. Half the independents see him negatively and a quarter of the independents also gave him a zero.

    Not too many people like Senator Man-on-Dog.

    Rick Santorum - ten points down.

    September 23, 2006

    Romanelli (remember him?) Update

    From the AP:
    The Green Party's U.S. Senate candidate fell about 9,000 signatures short of the number he needs to qualify for the Nov. 7 ballot as counting stopped Friday, according to his lawyers and those of state Democrats. [emphasis added]
    And that's according to his own lawyers.

    The game's not over, however.
    Lawrence M. Otter, a lawyer for Romanelli, said Friday he hopes to persuade Judge James R. Kelley to allow Romanelli to remain on the ballot when a hearing on his nominating petitions resumes Monday.
    Not sure how it'll turn out, but it looks like Ricky's wasted tens of thousands of his supporters money trying to get Romanelli on the ballot.

    Poor Ricky.

    September 22, 2006

    What We Have Lost

  • The belief in fair and free elections

  • A wall of separation between Church and State

  • The feeling of safety from foreign attack within our borders

  • The confidence that we can freely criticize our own government without reprisal

  • Freedom of speech that is truly free and not for sale to the highest bidder

  • The belief that preemptive war can only be justified by an imminent threat of
    attack or a clear and present danger

  • The belief that our government wouldn't blatantly lie to those who give
    the last full measure of devotion

  • Usury as a negative, and the belief that a person who plays by the rules but
    meets with financial disaster deserves a second chance

  • A fair day's pay for a fair day's work for too many

  • The ability to pay for even basic healthcare for too many

  • Too many local, independent choices/voices in newspapers and radio and
    television stations

  • Too many reproductive freedoms for women in too many states

  • Scientific and research reports issued by our government that aren't
    thoroughly soaked in politics or influenced by religious beliefs

  • The belief that our government can be counted on to respond forcefully
    and competently to natural disasters

  • The belief that our personal phone calls and emails are private

  • Any real check or balance to the executive branch

  • A belief in habeas corpus

  • The ability to state that America does not torture

  • Our good name and reputation, and the goodwill of much of the rest
    of the world
  • My Second Interview with Bill Peduto

    A little more than a year ago, I interviewed Councilman Bill Peduto for this blog. Given all that's happened in city government in the last last few months, I wanted to do a follow-up. Graciously, the councilman freed up some time and we talked by phone.

    Mayoral Election Date

    While still waiting on an opinion by the County Solicitor, Peduto is pretty sure the next mayoral election will be in 2007. The question, he said, will be answered by the County Election Commission after reading the opinion from the County Solicitor. This should happen in the next couple of months. He said that, with two state supreme court cases as precident, the Pittsburgh Home Rule Charter and the Pennsylvania Election Code, 2007 will likely be the date of the next mayoral election.


    I wanted to get his reaction to this. For those not following the story, the Other Political Junkie found, on his bio page, that the Mayor's claiming to have "led the charge to move forward" on the city's Wi-Fi plans. This came as a surprise to the OPJ (me, too).

    Peduto calmly pointed out a number of things. He pointed out that he formed the Information and Communications Technologies Working Group way back in 2004. Indeed the presentation made to the City Council in April of last year begins with this:
    At the request of City Councilman, William Peduto, a working group was formed in July 2004 to evaluate the current information and communications technologies (“ICT”) environment in Pittsburgh and make recommendations on ways the City can improve the ICT environment.
    Peduto also calmly pointed out the public hearings he held on the subject, the legislation he wrote to create the WiFi network and so on. I asked him point-blank and he answered that at no time was Mayor Ravenstahl involved in the process.

    Though Peduto added, "He voted for it."

    Agenda for the Coming Year

    The most important issue facing the near-term future of Pittsburgh, Peduto said, is the budget. Not necessarily the 2007 budget, but the financial problems facing the city in the next 5 years or so. How the city deals with its budgetary issues now will detemine its overall health for many more years to come.

    He said that he'll be paying close attention to upcoming revenue projects - to spot any "phantom revenue" plans that might pop up. Started a couple of years before Act47 was implemented, "phantom revenue" streams (like revenue projections from the Casinos not yet built) have, according to Peduto, left the city on the 'brink of bankruptcy." The practice of relying on "phantom revenue" needs to be broken, he said. City government needs to be restructured with some services merged with the County, he said.

    Other Points on his Agenda

    Along with new fair tax incentives to encourage growth downtown, he's working to make the WiFi network citywide. The trick is to create a competitive system diverse enough so that smaller local ISPs can fairly compete with the larger nationwide networks and to create a system that will cover all the city, not just he wealthy parts.

    He's also working on a proactive safety system for the city streets. There's a large store of data on traffic accidents, he said, but no one's putting it to any use. In a partnership with CMU, he's looking to set-up a system to point out (using the traffic data) which intersections are more dangerous and fix them before there's any more accidents.

    There are plans for a "greener" government and the continuation of his Guyasuta Fellowship program (that's the one that provides City Council with idea from younger voices from outside City Hall).

    Bill's been busy, huh?

    Altmire/Hart Race Tightens - more bad news for Missy

    PoliticsPA is running this headline/blurb on its website:
    Altmire Poll: Within Margin of Error A new poll conducted by Anzalone-Liszt Research for the PA4 Altmire for Congress race shows Melissa Hart leading Jason Altmire 48- 44. The margin of error was 4.9%
    Luckily, I got hold of the memo describing the poll results. The memo begins with this:
    Recent polling confirms that Republican Congresswoman Melissa Hart is in the toughest re-election battle of her career. With a national political environment that continues to be very rough for Republicans, Hart has dropped below 50% on the current vote and only has a four-point lead over Democrat Jason Altmire. Hart faces an electorate that believes the United States is moving in the wrong direction and favors a Democratic candidate on the generic ballot.
    None of which is good news for Melissa Hart.

    And then there's the data. They poll Altmire/Hart at 44% to 48% and say it represents a 10 point swing since last June. Take a look - Missy's below 50%. Bad news for an incumbent.

    They also point out that Hart's approval/disapproval numbers are 52% to 42%. More bad news for an incumbent.

    Remember, this is the poll data coming from the firm who did the poll for the Altmire campaign.

    Now I wonder if the Hart campaign did a poll. That's right, they did. But they're not releasing it.

    Again, I gotta wonder why.

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    September 21, 2006

    What is remarkable

    There's nothing really remarkable in Hugo Chavez, the president of Venezuela, calling Bush "the devil."

    There's nothing really remarkable in his doing so while addressing the United Nations.

    What's remarkable is how many other nations there enjoy his words -- how they laugh with him and cheer him on.

    This is where we are in the world.

    This is where Bush has brought us.

    Melissa Hart connected to Bob Ney

    I stumbled across an article this morning in the Sharon, PA Herald.
    As Jason Altmire sees it, Melissa Hart has some explaining to do.

    Altmire, the Democratic challenger to the 4th Congressional District Republican incumbent, isn’t alleging any criminal action by Ms. Hart took place, but he is raising questions about her relationship with U.S. Rep. Bob Ney of Ohio.
    Bob Ney, in case you were wondering, is expected to plead guilty for multiple counts of corruption. He's also the idiot that behind that whole "freedom fries" idea in the House restaurants.
    According to the federal campaign finance Web site, Ms. Hart — who represents Farrell, West Middlesex, Shenango Township and a sliver of Hermitage — and Ney were among four members of Congress who formed a joint fundraising committee — Good Government 2004 — during the 2003 and 2004 election cycle.

    Based on information reported at’s PoliticalMoneyLine, the committee reported receipts and disbursements of $93,185 from Aug. 15, 2003 to March 11, 2004. Disbursements after $3,427 in operating expenses totaled $89,279, with Spencer Bachus, R-Ala. and Patrick Tiberia, R-Ohio getting $23,358 each, Ney receiving $21,441 and Ms. Hart $21,122.
    $21,000 is a nice piece of change.

    But what about "Good Government 2004"? According to the FEC filing documents, the office for "Good Government 2004" was at
    1401 H STREET NW SUITE 1200
    WASHINGTON, DC 20005
    Which also happens to be the address for the Investment Company Institute. Indeed the ICI's PAC has the exact same address.

    The ICI, according to the Wikipedia is an invenstment company trade organization that does extensive lobbying on behalf of its members.

    Turns out that the chair of the House Financial Services Committee is up for grabs soon. Take a look here.
    While the race for the gavel at the House Financial Services Committee has recently become a hot topic on K Street, many financial-industry giants already have let their money speak for them.

    The contenders to succeed Chairman Mike Oxley (R-Ohio), who announced earlier this month that he would retire at the end of this session, have been waging subtle campaigns. Lobbyists consider the field to be smaller than earlier anticipated — Oxley’s heir, they say, will be either Rep. Richard Baker (R-La.) or Rep. Spencer Bachus (R-Ala.).
    Bauchus, you will recall, was one of the four members of "Good Government 2004".
    Mutual funds, under Baker’s jurisdiction and the focus of unwelcome congressional scrutiny over the past several years, have given nearly equal amounts to the two lawmakers this year through their industry trade association, the Investment Company Institute (ICI). Last year, however, the ICI formed an alliance with Bachus when its then-president and top lobbyist served as treasurers of Bachus’s joint fundraising committee.

    Bachus’s partners in that now-defunct committee, Good Government 2004, were Reps. Melissa Hart (R-Pa.) and Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio) and House Administration Committee Chairman Bob Ney (R-Ohio), said to have an interest in taking the Financial Services gavel at the end of this Congress.
    I think we may be getting somewhere.

    But where is Missy's part in all this? Her spokesperson explains:
    Ms. Hart’s campaign manager Luke Myslinski explained the committee was formed by the four lawmakers to for a “specific event,” which allowed donors to write one check to the committee before it eventually was split four ways.

    “There was no personal involvement between Melissa Hart and Bob Ney,” he added.

    Speaking on behalf of Ms. Hart, Myslinski also said there’s “absolutely no connection” between the event and what Ney has admitted doing and it’s “ludicrous” for anyone to attempt to connect them.

    "The only connection is they served in Congress together, so you could make the connection to 433 other members of Congress,” Myslinski said.
    There may not be illegalities, but there are certainly questions. What was the event?, why would Ney pick Hart to be a part of "Good Government 2004"? What does Missy Hart have to do with the House Financial Services Committee?

    And considering how dirty Ney was, we do have a right to wonder exactly what connections exist between Melissa Hart and the soon-to-be-incarcerated Bob Ney.

    September 20, 2006

    Ravenstahl: Do we call it "padding" or "lying"?

    I came across Luke Ravenstahl's bio page on the city web site the other day. As I have previously written, our new mayor seemed to have some difficulty coming up with his major accomplishments when he was on Letterman last week so let's see what he comes up with when he's not under the pressure of being on a national TV show.

    He lists four major accomplishments there (we're leaving out president of his high school student council and "captain of both the football and baseball teams" even if Luke doesn't):

  • "Shortly into his term as Council President, Luke introduced a resolution calling for new controls on council spending, including the use of explanatory invoices, lists of hourly rates and hours worked, professional service contracts, and initialed approvals for work performed."

  • "Ravenstahl also led the charge to move forward the City’s downtown Wi-Fi plan, improving the quality of life for every Pittsburgher by allowing for improved internet access."

  • "His prudent financial strategy for public/private partnerships helped to secure a $1 million dollar state grant which renovated the historic Hazlett Theater on Pittsburgh’s North Side."

  • "In July 2004 Luke immediately contributed to the betterment of his district by directing the resurrection of the Woods Run Fishing Contest, an event that had been grounded for many years."
  • The Post-Gazette called Ravenstahl's new rules for spending "Reform lite" and instead lauded the real reforms of "The Peduto/Shields amendment aimed to limit discretionary budget spending to council offices only, a move that would have eliminated the notorious WAMs (walking around money) that greases so many wheels in local politics."

    But, for the moment, I'm more interested in the second accomplishment that he listed. Here's a screen capture of it:

    As mentioned before on this blog, I've been watching city council meetings for at least a year and a half now. I remember the meetings and public hearing that were held on the Wi-Fi issue and they were led by Councilman Bill Peduto (District 8) as the Chair of the Committee on Facilities, Technology and the Arts.

    Peduto was the acknowledged "point man" on the wi-fi issue in council; he's been frequently mentioned in the press as "long a proponent of free wireless Internet access; " he's currently working on expanding the system; and if I recall correctly, free wi-fi was part of what he campaigned on when he ran for mayor.

    Some Questions:

  • Has Young Luke ever even attended a meeting of the Committee on Facilities, Technology and the Arts?

  • Has he ever been mentioned in the media on this issue before he became mayor?

  • How exactly has he "led the charge to move forward the City’s downtown Wi-Fi plan" other than showing up at the press conference on the day it came to fruition?
  • I know that when you're practically fresh out of college, the temptation must be great to pad your resume, but they fire folks for padding these days. (And, it's not exactly like We The People even hired him in the first place.)

    Even Chili's Restaurants "have an on-line application where you must detail accomplishments and then 'back them up' with a person who can verify that accomplishment."

    Can anyone back up Luke's own claim to have "led the charge to move forward the City’s downtown Wi-Fi plan"?

    Can anyone cite anything that he's personally done in getting the city free Wi-Fi?

    Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?