Democracy Has Prevailed.

June 30, 2007

An Interesting CNN Poll

Jack Kelly recently wrote about a poll showing dubya's approval rating (bad as it is) still above the approval rating of the US Congress.

Now CNN has come out with a poll that offers some intruiging details. Here's how Greg Sargent over at TPMCafe sums it up:

With approval of Congress dropping sharply in polls, we've been waiting for a survey that tries to gauge public attitudes towards Congress in a bit of detail -- such as, where do people fall on the performance of each party, for instance.

Now we have some new numbers from a new CNN poll that takes a few baby steps in this direction. The verdict? The public is pretty sour on the Dem leadership's performance -- but is still happy to have Dems in control, views the party favorably, and plans to reelect Dems in 2008. And the Republicans? Well, they're still in the soup. [emphasis added

Here are some details. It's a bit confusing to me but here's how one question is phrased:
Next, we'd like to get your overall opinion of some people in the news. As I read each name, please say if you have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of these people -- or if you have never heard of them.
The politicians' names were then, I guess, presented in random order. The poll lays out the favorable/unfavorable numbers by party. The Republicans had a 36/53 favorable/unfavorable rating, while the Democrats had a 51/38 favorable/unfavorable rating. That's what it looks like to me.

On the question:
Do you think it is good for the country or bad for the country that the Democratic party is in control of Congress?
57% of those asked answered that it was good for the country that the Democrats are in control of the congress. Only 31% said bad.

About the Democratic leaders of the Congress (not the Congress as a whole), those asked gave a sobering 42/49% approval/disapproval score.

If I am reading the poll correctly, I think Sargent has it right. The bloom is off the rose, but the people are still happy (overall) that the Democrats control Congress.

I needed that!

[UPDATE: As three different people have complained that they are having problems with the formatting of this post (looks fine to me), I'm throwing out the code that the quiz-makers gave me and creating my own version of the answer that I got on the quiz.]

After hearing Lil Mayor Luke making excuses one mo' time on the promotion of police officers with domestic abuse run-ins, I could use a little feminism right now:

Which Western feminist icon are you?

You are Frida Kahlo! You are an artistic, passionate,
vulnerable person, with openly bisexual tendancies
and were the first womyn to have her own gallery
show in Mexico. You slept with ... Trotsky?

Take this

A bonus that she just happens to be one of my favorite artists!

(h/t to Shakesville for the quiz)

June 29, 2007

(I'm just so sick of this) Ravenstahl Refuses to Rescind Police Promotions

It's not my fault!

I have "
zero tolerance" against domestic abuse, well, except for Trosky because "there are good times in careers and bad times in careers."

And, I was
"unaware of the allegations of domestic violence against two of three police officers promoted" even though days before my office said that I wouldn't talk about the effects of these promotions on women.

It's just not my fault because as mayor, I only get to approve or disapprove these promotions. It's Nate's fault! He did it! And the rules, yeah, those too!

I am
"upset and frustrated" which is why I skipped yesterday's hearing before the public and why my office can't confirm exactly where I was or even if I'll watch the video tape of the hearings.

It's just so unfair that this is me!

We have a a Mayor who can't do the right thing in the first place and who never accepts any responsibility for his mistakes.

The only politician in this country who may be a bigger spoiled brat than Lil Mayor Luke is George W. Bush.

I used to think that maybe a silver lining would be that after two more years of Ravenstahl's mistakes and lies and excuses the public would be so fed up that they would elect a decent progressive.

But we're no longer talking about sleep-overs to NYC on school nights or Tiger Hunts, we're talking about the safety and the very lives of the women and children of Pittsburgh.

DeSantis is looking better by the hour.

It's not my fault!

The View from the Trib

I'm not sure Jeremy Boren made himself any friends today when he started his piece on yesterday's public hearing with this:
About 150 angry women packed Pittsburgh City Council chambers Thursday to demand Mayor Luke Ravenstahl rescind the promotions of three police officers with allegations of domestic violence or disturbances in their pasts.
Were the only people there at the hearing demanding the Mayor rescind the promotions
"angry women"?

Not according to Sue, the live-blogger, who posted this at 2:32:
Billy Hileman, Lawrenceville resident and City school teacher. Thanked the women for their activism for keeping these issues in the public eye. These officers will be okay if the promotions aren't rescinded. The women's lives will not. 1 in 3 women face violence by an intimate partner. He has three sisters. Violence in families with police officers is 2-3 times greater than the general public. These three men will be okay. What's more important -- the seeming career injustice of these men or the lives of women facing domestic violence every moment of their lives. We need to set a policy where the safety of women are first and the careers of men are second.
And Bram, the Pittsburgh Comet, who was at the hearing but not live-blogging it, wrote this about Hileman:

He pleaded with us that many women are currently struggling with the decision to come forward against their accusers. He reminded us that women are already likely to believe that the cops will not defend them. Now they will soon pick up a newspaper with an encouraging headline -- or a headline that warns them to stay silent and alone.

Hileman insisted that officers who fail to be promoted -- even if they are unjustly accused -- will remain fundamentally "okay" in their lives. Yet the women who perceive that the police do not take domestic violence seriously, will most certainly not be okay. [italics in original]

From these quotations, I can't say he's a supporter of the promitions. And he's a he.
There must have been more like Hileman there - earlier at 1:41 Sue, the live-blogger, posted:
The entire Council is here, but Jeff Koch who is out of town. There are easily more than 100 people here and it is rather a diverse crowd in terms of gender, age, and race.
And that was before she posted at 2:00 that people were still entering the chamber.

Granted, while it looks from Sue's reports that most of the people protesting the promotions were women and most of the people supporting them were men, what difference does that make? Unless you're going to take an essentialist postion that gender determines a moral outlook then whether something is right or wrong has to be determined on its own basis and not on which person commenting on it has the Y-chromosome.

At the very least, Boren's opening is misleading.

Of course another tasty nugget of news is found in the second paragraph:
Ravenstahl skipped the two-hour session. He declined through a spokeswoman to say where he was.
It may or may not be a problem with Mayor Luke not attending, but why decline to say where he was?

And how does that jibe with this post over at the Burgh Report? Where The Burgher takes a close look at the timeline of when the story broke, the various news conferences and finds, if I am reading it correctly, that Mayor Luke's misleading.


June 28, 2007

Today's City Council Public Hearing on Recent Police Promotions

While being much, much better, a side effect of having been ill for a very long time includes having days when the side effects of the medications I was on and those I am weaning off of sometimes catch up with me. Today (of course!) was one of those days. Sucks to me, blah, blah, blah.

Anyway, I could not attend today's public hearing on the recent police promotions. However, I did catch nearly all of the telecast and will be blogging on that shortly.

But, Sue Kerr of Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondents did attend.

Moreover, she live blogged the hearing over at The Pittsburgh Women's Blogging Society (a most impressive effort!).

Read it all!

Live Blogging from City Council
Breaching the Chamber
It is 1:12 PM and things are heating up ...
Almost curtain time ...
Coming to order ...
More on Council Meeting
Here's More on hearing
Police Council Hearing
Opening the Floor for Comments


The AP, BBC, Boston Globe, The Hill, New York Times, and the Washington Post are all reporting that the Senate Judiciary Committee (by 13-3 vote) has subpoenaed the White House.

Oddly enough, at this point I can not find any coverage of this story over at Fox "News." If it's there, someone please send in the URL. I did find this from June 26, but it's an AP story - not original reporting from Fox.

Anyway, remember the vote? The committee is made up of 10 Democrats and 9 Republicans. On the vote, The Hill reports:
Senate Judiciary members authorized the subpoenas last week on a 13-3 vote, with ranking member Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) backing [Senator Patrick] Leahy. The chairman urged the White House that it should not view the investigation as driven by partisanship.
And of course, that's exactly what they did. From the AP:
"We're aware of the committee's action and will respond appropriately," White House spokesman Tony Fratto said. "It's unfortunate that congressional Democrats continue to choose the route of confrontation."
But "confrontation" (while perhaps too strong a word to use) might be necessary, considering this from the Washington Post:

Mr. Leahy said Wednesday at a news conference that the committee had issued the subpoenas because the administration had followed a “consistent pattern of evasion and misdirection” in dealing with Congressional efforts to scrutinize the program.

“It’s unacceptable,” Mr. Leahy said. “It is stonewalling of the worst kind.”

Again, as of this writing, I could find nothing about this on Again, if it's there please e-mail me the link.

June 27, 2007

Tony on Bill (on Keith)

Here's the article that Tony Norman wrote about Bill O'Reilly that Tony and David are talking about now and that Keith Olbermann referenced last night.

UPDATE: If you, like me, missed Keith last night talking about Pittsburgh's own Tony Norman, here's the YouTube video of it:

Around the Blogs

While I've been busy blogging on our lovely Mayor, some other local bloggers have found a thing or two to blog on:

  • Char did some investigation into an ugly parking tax and got some answers from State officials.

  • Ms. Mon takes on local columnist "Rose Marie Weekly" (we have no idea who she means) in addition to many other extremely funny posts.

  • Speaking of ugly (the reports not Froth), Froth links to two very scary articles:

    Pitt study finds stark racial disparities (Report here)


    Doctors' beliefs can hinder patient care
  • Spork has pulled up a brutally real summary of the Cheney/Bush Administration and the need to impeach them.
  • .

    WAPO Dick Cheney Articles

    Here's a link to the fascinating Washington Post series on Dick Cheney that Congressman Doyle just mentioned on air.

    (I was planning on linking to these this morning but lost the post.)

    Commander McNeilly Rates Luke's P-G Report Card

    Commander Catherine R. McNeilly wrote a letter to the Post-Gazette with her thoughts on their report card on Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. As they have declined to print it, she's sent it over to us to print.

    As I emailed her back, I'm more than happy to have her do the hard work of reviewing the P-G's review:
    "I must take issue Sunday’s article regarding the “Mayor Meeting Most Goals.”

    He was given an “A” when in April, 2007 he began charging businesses an administrative fee for hiring off-duty police officers. However, the city had been charging this fee for years to help recoup losses incurred by administrating these details. But this fee was nixed by the Mayor late last year. ("Ravenstahl dumps plan to add service fee to bill for off-duty cops" November 22, 2006). It was only re-implemented (grudgingly) in April after great pressure by his then-challenger, Councilman Peduto.

    So, his “A” is truly not deserved!

    In September, 2006 the Mayor was given a “C” on the goal of creating a “Women’s Commission” that would bring “concerns of women to the city and improve gender diversity in top staff.” This goal has stalled, however, because his chosen co-chair has moved out of town and has yet to be replaced.

    If the Mayor were truly sincere about his commitment to the “concerns” of women, he had a valuable and unique opportunity in September, 2006 to tout the Command Staff of the Pittsburgh Police as a “model” of female representation in “top city staff” when 7 out of 12 people (or 58%) who held the rank of Commander or higher were female.

    Since becoming Mayor, there have been seven promotions made to the Command Staff of the Pittsburgh Police. Six of those promotions were male. Today, 6 of the 14 people (or 43%) of the Command Staff is female. Sadly, Mr. Ravenstahl missed a golden opportunity, and as of the date “Ravenstahl’s Report Card” was published, the same Command Staff of the Pittsburgh Police is no longer the “model” that it was just 10 month ago.

    One of the most recent males promoted to the Command Staff jumped over a number of females (and males) who have rank, formal degrees, higher degrees and well-respected police management training which highly qualifies them for such a move upward – but they were not even considered for such a move.

    Additionally, as has been widely reported, the last three promotions have raised concerns to a number of women’s groups in the Pittsburgh area because of allegations of domestic abuse; however, Mr. Ravenstahl will not even address the “concerns" of these women.

    The Post-Gazette has been very lenient in giving the Mayor a “C” in these areas. If I were his professor in “Women’s Studies” and he were my student, it would be obvious by this time that he just isn’t getting it - he would have failed my course miserably."

    Catherine R. McNeilly
    (the writer is a Commander with the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police)

    Elizabeth Edwards confronts Ann Coulter

    Here's the video that David is talking about on the radio now:

    Great Lineup of Guests Today!

    David has some great guests lined up today while he's subbing for Lynn Cullen from 9 to noon:
  • Pittsburgh City Councilman Bill Peduto

  • US Congressman Mike Doyle (D-PA 14th)

  • President of the Squirrel Hill chapter of the National Organization for Women Jeanne Clark, who will be addressing the issue of police promotions and who was a main force in organizing tomorrow's public hearing at 1:30 p.m. in City Council Chambers (fifth floor of the City-County Building, corner of Grant Street and Forbes Avenue)

  • Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Columnist Tony Norman
  • UPDATE: Emailed from David's camera phone:


    Just a reminder: I'll be filling in for Lynn Cullen today from 9am all the way to noon.

    Follow the link and you, too, can listen in live over the internets.

    Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13 (and Mayors of Pittsburgh)

    Online Dating

    "This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:

    dick (5x) torture (2x) hurt (1x) "

    Obviously my damned, fucking "potty mouth" swearing has been off lately!

    But the PG-13 rating does help to explain why Lil Mayor Luke isn't allowed to read this blog and maybe missed a few stories in the news.

    They also got it right when they counted "dick" (Cheney) as an obscenity!

    Ha! I just reran our rating and we're back up where we should be:

    Online Dating

    "This rating was determined based on the presence of the following words:
    dick (8x) torture (3x) hurt (2x) abortion (1x)"

    Now Luke definitely can't read us!

    More Poll Numbers to Think About

    This time from CNN.

    Question 10:
    Do you favor or oppose the U.S. war in Iraq?
    67% oppose.

    Question 14:
    Which comes closest to your view about what the U.S. should now do about the number of U.S. troops in Iraq -- the U.S. should send more troops to Iraq, The U.S. should keep the number of troops as it is now, the U.S. should withdraw some troops from Iraq, or the U.S. should withdraw all of its troops from Iraq?
    17% said "Send more troops." 16% said "Keep the same number as now." 24% said "Withdraw some troops." 39% said "Withdraw all the troops." And 3% had no opinion. So what does that mean? It means that 63% of those polled want to withdraw either some or all of the troops.

    Question 15:
    Do you think the United States' action in Iraq is morally justified, or not?
    A majority (54%) answered no it's not morally justified. That's way way way down from March 2003 when 73% believed it was.

    So next time a right-wing nutjob starts talking about support for the war just remind him or her how much in the minority he or she is.

    Cut and Run! Cut and Run!

    No wait - this time it's NOT a Democrat:
    Sen. Richard Lugar, a senior Republican and a reliable vote for President Bush on the war, said that Bush's Iraq strategy was not working and that the U.S. should downsize the military's role.
    "In my judgment, the costs and risks of continuing down the current path outweigh the potential benefits that might be achieved," Lugar, R-Ind., said in a Senate floor speech. "Persisting indefinitely with the surge strategy will delay policy adjustments that have a better chance of protecting our vital interests over the long term."
    Coward! Wasn't he listening when our brave Commander in Chief said:
    Retreat from Iraq before the job is done would embolden the enemy and make us more vulnerable to attack.
    Does Dick Lugar want to see another 9/11 type attack on America?

    June 26, 2007

    True to pattern, Lil Mayor Luke tries to run from another stupid mistake

    According to today's Trib, Post-Gazette, KDKA, WTAE (and likely elsewhere) Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl is claiming today:

    1) He's upset about the police promotion system -- particularly when it comes to promoting officers with histories of domestic violence.

    2) He somehow wasn't aware until today that there were three officers promoted who had domestic abuse run-ins. (Ravenstahl said he was not aware of domestic situations involving Lt. Charles Rodriguez and Sgt. Eugene Hlavac."I did not know of those individuals and their history or allegations that were out there, and I now do," Ravenstahl said. "I'm upset that I didn't know. And I let the chief know that he should have communicated that to me.")

    I think that PittGirl and Mac Booker covered his first claim very well.

    From The Burgh Blog:

    Tuesday, June 19:
    Mr. Ravenstahl approved the pick.

    “There are good times in careers and bad times in careers, and I think Cmdr. Trosky would be the first to acknowledge that,” the mayor said. “But this decision was made based on a 30-year portfolio, not based on one or two incidents … He’s had letters of commendation. He’s been Officer of the Month numerous times. Certainly the clearance rate in his work as a homicide detective, and his work there, has been admirable.”

    Tuesday, June 26:
    Following an hour-long meeting with police brass, Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl said today that the promotions last week of three police officers with domestic issues were “unacceptable” and that the procedures for approving upgrades in rank are “obsolete and unacceptable.” Ravenstahl said, “Sergeants and lieutenants are promoted now without the ability for the mayor to say yes or no, either way.”
    From Metroblogging Pittsburgh (but go there to read the whole post):

    So, he doesn't think that it is a problem, he supports and endorses Nate Harper's decisions, and he isn't going to talk about it. Until, that is, the Post-Gazette, the National Organization for Women, and the Citizen's Police Review Board make a stink about it. In that case, no more approval, no more endorsement, no more dismissing a history of violence both in uniform and out. It is "obsolete and unacceptable."
    And, the second claim?

    Again, it would seem that, at the very least, Luke isn't communicating with his Communications people very well. This is from last Friday:
    Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who approved the promotions, could not be reached for comment. His spokeswoman, Joanna Doven, said the mayor would not discuss the promotions or their effects on women.

    "He's not going to talk about that," Doven said.
    I guess Doven didn't know that Lukey didn't even know that there was a problem with other officers and she was just speaking out of turn on his behalf.

    But why wasn't Ravenstahl aware?

    OK, we know that he's said that he doesn't read the blogs, but he says his Mom does. Maybe she could have pointed out the following posts to him:

    Blog Posts Prior to Today:
    6/25/07: (mislabled as 6/26)






    So he's not a blog reader and Mommy didn't share, but I guess we're suppossed to believe that, like GW Bush, he also doesn't read newspapers and missed these stories:

    Post-Gazette: 6/24 6/22 6/21 6/21 6/20

    Tribune-Review: 6/22 6/22

    So, not much of a reader, huh? Maybe he also missed the television coverage:

    Go to and enter key word "trosky." You'll find stories on 6/20 and 6/25.

    Go to and enter key word "trosky." You'll find stories on 6/20 and 6/21.

    Discussion on Honsberger Live by host Chris Moore on 6/25.

    Nothing showed up via keyword search prior to today.

    Guess we know what channel Luke watches, that is, when he can tear himself away from the Cartoon Network!

    UPDATE: Another good overview at The Burgh Report.

    Civics Lesson on Vice-Presidential Authority

    The Office of the Vice-President believes some odd things:
    The Oversight Committee has learned that over the objections of the National Archives, Vice President Cheney exempted his office from the presidential order that establishes government-wide procedures for safeguarding classified national security information. The Vice President asserts that his office is not an “entity within the executive branch.”
    This is in conflict with the Executive Order signed by dubya in March, 2003. Here's the definition from that EO mentioned above:
    "Agency" means any "Executive agency," as defined in 5 U.S.C. 105; any "Military department" as defined in 5 U.S.C. 102; and any other entity within the executive branch that comes into the possession of classified information.
    But wait, what about that USC stuff in there? Perhaps there's a little wiggle room for the big Dick.

    Uh, no. Here's 5 U.S.C. 102:
    For the purpose of this title, “Executive agency” means an Executive department, a Government corporation, and an independent establishment.
    Seems pretty clear that the OVP is in the Executive Branch. It's even mentioned in the same Article of the Constitution as the Chief Executive (Article Two, for those of you keeping score at home). This is from Section 1:
    The executive Power shall be vested in a President of the United States of America. He shall hold his Office during the Term of four Years, and, together with the Vice President, chosen for the same Term,
    The section goes on to describe how the President and Vice-President are elected. And Section 4, how they can be removed:
    The President, Vice President and all Civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.

    So that portion of the Constitution that describes the Executive branch, mentions both President and Vice-President - how they're elected, the duties and how they can be removed from office.

    Cheney rests his entire position on Article 1 Section 3:

    The Vice President of the United States shall be President of the Senate but shall have no Vote, unless they be equally divided.
    That because he presides over the Senate, he's something else. Still doesn't put him outside the boundaries of 5 U.S.C. 102, though. Does it?

    In any event, Rahm Emanuel has a solution:
    If Vice President Cheney believes his office is not an "entity within the executive branch," then a House Democratic leader says taxpayers shouldn't have to finance his executive expenses.
    But in covering Dick's ass, the White House spun itself out of reality as well:
    White House spokesman Tony Fratto said Sunday that President Bush agrees with Cheney's analysis. The executive order's reporting requirements do not apply to the offices of the president or vice president, Fratto said.
    But take another look at the EO above. No wait, I'll reprint it down here so you won't have to scroll:
    "Agency" means any "Executive agency," as defined in 5 U.S.C. 105; any "Military department" as defined in 5 U.S.C. 102; and any other entity within the executive branch that comes into the possession of classified information.
    Seems clear to me. "Any" means "any", right?

    I can sleep now

    Paris is out of the pokey so I can sleep now.

    As she has also apparently found God while in the joint, I can also now sleep well.

    June 25, 2007

    This Evening on Olbermann

    Keith Olbermann has 50 new heroes tonight.

    So do I.

    In a short spot on tonight show (transcript available tomorrow) he talked about the 50 visiting Presidential Scholars visiting the White House today.

    The AP has the story:
    President Bush was presented with a letter Monday signed by 50 high school seniors in the Presidential Scholars program urging a halt to "violations of the human rights" of terror suspects held by the United States.
    Here's a portion of the handwritten letter:
    We do not want America to represent torture. We urge you to do all in your power to stop violations of the human rights of detainees, to cease illegal renditions, and to apply the Geneva Convention to all detainees, including those designated enemy combatants
    According to the AP, the letter letter also said the students "believe we have a responsibility to voice our convictions." And after he read it, dubya reportedly "let the student know that the United States does not torture and that we value human rights."

    By a delicious coincidence, today is Eric Blair's birthday. And who's Eric Blair, you may ask? Eric Blair wrote a few famous books in the middle of the previous century. And so in his honor and in the honor of our great fearless leader I'll give you a few hints as to who Eric Blair was. He wrote:
    War is Peace
    Freedom is Slavery
    Ignorance is Strength
    Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia
    All animals are equal but some animals are more equal than others.
    Who wants to bet that each of those scholars knows what Eric Blair's pen name was? Who wants to bet that dubya never bothered?

    City Council Hearing This Thursday on Promoting Cops with Histories of Abuse


    By now, we hope that everyone has read something about the three Pittsburgh City Police Officers (Cmdr. George T. Trosky, Lt. Charles Rodriguez, Sgt. Eugene F. Hlavac) who have had had domestic abuse run-ins and who were promoted by Police Chief Nate Harper with the approval of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl.

    Some good background on police family violence can be found here (h/t to Laurie in the comments section of The Pittsburgh Women's Blogging Society) and here (h/t to Agent Ska).

    Concerned women and men in the City of Pittsburgh (h/t to Jeanne K. C. Clark, Council Pres. Doug Shields and everyone else who helped) have gathered signatures and have managed to secure a public meeting this Thursday with the Pittsburgh City Council:
    People concerned with last week's promotion of three Pittsburgh police officers with histories of domestic abuse, either violent or verbal, will get to say their piece at a Pittsburgh City Council public hearing at 1:30 p.m. Thursday in council chambers on the fifth floor of the City-County Building. Organizers turned in petitions demanding the hearings on Friday and didn't want to wait the weeks to a month that it often takes to get a special meeting of the city's nine legislators. Council President Doug Shields obliged, making sure that the issue will get an airing before the July 4 holiday.
    Quotes like this one in The Trib from the office of our esteemed "hot, hip, young" Mayor can't help the situtation:

    Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, who approved the promotions, could not be reached for comment. His spokeswoman, Joanna Doven, said the mayor would not discuss the promotions or their effects on women.

    "He's not going to talk about that," Doven said.

    [h/t to The Conversation.]

    I urge all who care to attend.

    Crossposted at The Pittsburgh Women's Blogging Society

    Ex-FISA Judge on Domestic Surveillance

    Via the AP:

    A federal judge who used to authorize wiretaps in terrorism and espionage cases criticized yesterday President Bush's decision to order warrantless surveillance after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

    "We have to understand you can fight the war [on terrorism] and lose everything if you have no civil liberties left when you get through fighting the war," said Royce C. Lamberth, a U.S. District Court judge in Washington and a former presiding judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, speaking at the American Library Association's annual convention.


    Lamberth, who was appointed to the federal bench by President Ronald Reagan, expressed his opposition to letting the executive branch decide on its own which people to spy on in national security cases.

    The judge said it is proper for executive branch agencies to conduct such surveillance. "But what we have found in the history of our country is that you can't trust the executive," he said.

    "The executive has to fight and win the war at all costs. But judges understand the war has to be fought, but it can't be at all costs," Lamberth said at the Washington Convention Center. "We still have to preserve our civil liberties. Judges are the kinds of people you want to entrust that kind of judgment to more than the executive."[emphasis added]

    By the way, this guy was a Reagan appointee.

    More on Rudy's bad press

    We posted on this a while ago.

    This time the bad news is from Tim Russert on Meet the Press (via thinkprogress):
    The developments came on a day when the campaign was responding to a report in Newsday that Mr. Giuliani quit the Iraq Study Group last year after failing to show up for a single meeting. The report said Mr. Giuliani missed the meetings to give paid speeches and his absence has prompted the panel’s Republican co-chairman, James Baker, to ask him to either start showing up or leave the group.” The Giuliani campaign said part of the equation is he was considering to run for president at that time and his presence on the group may pose a potential conflict. several commission members said to me that presidential politics never entered the discussion, it was all about Giuliani’s schedule and commitments versus showing up for the iraq study group.
    We posted on the ISG and the alleged coke dealer. Is there any more bad news for "America's Mayor"?

    Why, yes. Yes, there is.

    Via Salon, we learned that Rudy's loyalty trumps, well, you'll see:

    Giuliani employs his childhood friend Monsignor Alan Placa as a consultant at Giuliani Partners despite a 2003 Suffolk County, N.Y., grand jury report that accuses Placa of sexually abusing children, as well as helping cover up the sexual abuse of children by other priests. Placa, who was part of a three-person team that handled allegations of abuse by clergy for the Diocese of Rockville Centre, is referred to as Priest F in the grand jury report. The report summarizes the testimony of multiple alleged victims of Priest F, and then notes, "Ironically, Priest F would later become instrumental in the development of Diocesan policy in response to allegations of sexual abuse of children by priests."

    Five years after he was suspended from his duties because of the abuse allegations, Placa is currently listed as "priest in residence" at St. Aloysius Church in Great Neck, N.Y., where close friend Brendan Riordan serves as pastor, and officially lives at the rectory there with Riordan. [emphasis added.]

    So he was suspended because of the allegations?

    How can Rudy Giuliani's candidacy survive this? Somehow I think that if there were a big "D" next to his name, we'd be hearing about it 24 hours a day 7 days a week via the Republican Noise Machine.

    June 24, 2007

    Why I Blog

    C-SPAN's Washington Journal had two bloggers on this morning: Kagro X (David Waldman), a contributing editor to Daily Kos and blogger at The Next Hurrah, and Robert Bluey from and a contributor to

    While I didn't think they had anything particularly remarkable to say, it was a caller to their segment who really set me off.

    A woman called in saying how Blacks having babies out-of-wedlock was a main source of poverty. I'd agree that, statistically speaking, it certainly is a source of poverty/lower income for any race, but then like many who rely solely on their side's talking points, she went off the deep end. She stated as fact that the answer to the problem was abstinence-only education. She said that under abstinence-only programs abortions were down, poverty was down, and so was out-of-wedlock births.

    Fine, except that none of that is true.

    Recent studies and congressional reports have shown that not only does abstinence-only education feed false information about birth control and pregnancy, it found no evidence that abstinence-only programs deter sexual activity.

    Moreover, studies have shown that when teens who have only been schooled in abstinence-only education do have sex, they are far less likely to use birth control because they either don't know much about it or have been told grossly misleading tales of it's worth.

    Moreover, abortion rates under Bush (and his preference for abstinence-only programs) have declined at a slower rate than they did under President Clinton:
    "Between 1992 and 1996, the annualized decline was 3.4 percent per year, while between 1996 and 2000, it was 1.2 percent per year," the Guttmacher study read. "The annualized decline between 2000 and 2002 was 0.9 percent."
    While out-of-wedlock births have dropped among teens, there's no evidence that this is due to abstinence-only education -- especially none considering that it's been shown that those programs do not decrease sexual activity. Also, out-of-wedlock births overall are at an all time high.

    And, poverty rates? They continue to rise under Bush while incomes stagnate overall and the gap between rich and poor ever widens.

    She was simply factually wrong on every point she made.

    And, that's why I blog. While we can all have our own opinions, but we can't all have our own facts.

    Murtha Coverage in the P-G

    I met Jerome Sherman in early January. He seemed like a nice enough guy, so I'd like to give him the benefit of the doubt in his article today of Congressman Jack Murtha.

    But whoever writes the headlines, that person I got a serious problem with.

    First, the headline:

    John Murtha: How a lifelong hawk became a dove, too

    Veteran Congressman still champions military even though he opposes Iraq war

    Notice something? Yea I am sure you do - the parallel phrase structure of the two headlines.

    "hawk" is (nearly) set in opposition to "dove"
    and then
    "champions military" is set in opposition to "opposes Iraq war"

    I say "nearly" for the first line because it does say he's a hawk AND a dove.

    It's the second line that's most egregious. The implication is that someone who opposes the war can't possibly "champion" the military. This isn't 2003, folks. According to a recent (5/29-6/1/07) poll done by ABC News/Washington Post, only 37% of the American people thought that the Iraq war was "worth fighting." 61% said it was "not worth fighting." If we stretch the logic of the P-G headline writers to that poll, a majority of the American people don't "champion the military" because they oppose the war.

    It's absurd at its face. And yet it's there in black and white on the pages of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

    But since it's my understanding that article writers do NOT write the headlines, this one can't be pinned on Jerome Sherman.

    The rest of the article, however, can be. The piece is, roughly speaking, a biography. But it seems to be written to position Murtha as a flip-flopper on the one hand, while also undermining his credibility with a smear on 'tother. Look at how Murtha's past is set up in opposition to his current views on the Iraq war. Paragraph six and seven:

    "I thought it was important that we stood up to communism," he said recently. "And if the Congress and the president said it was the right war, I thought it was the right war."

    Today, 40 years later, Mr. Murtha, the senior congressman from Pennsylvania, doesn't express similar confidence about President Bush's military decisions. He has become one of Congress' loudest and most prominent critics of the war in Iraq, calling for a rapid redeployment of more than 150,000 U.S. troops.

    If it was good enough for LBJ, why wasn't it good enough for GWB?

    Then comes the criticism of the Congressman, first he's called a coward ("He's lost his nerve.") by a fellow Marine who served in Vietnam, though Sherman never says he served with Murtha in Vietnam - something to remember. So after the Jean Schmidt smear resurfaces, Sherman trots out another swiftboat smear.

    It's from the Cybercast News Service. Why would a real news source (the P-G) even bother with a fake news source like CNSNews? Sherman writes:
    The Cybercast News Service, an online news organization, last year ran a report questioning whether Mr. Murtha deserved two Purple Hearts for his service in Vietnam, even though Marine records confirm that he was wounded.
    Especially since Sherman's own paper published this in May, 2002:
    Choby [who was running against Murtha at the time] criticized Murtha, the first Vietnam combat veteran elected to Congress, for not turning over medical records proving he's entitled to his two Purple Hearts. Murtha spokesman Brad Clemenson insisted his boss deserved the medals.

    Marine Corps casualty records show that Murtha was injured in "hostile" actions near Danang, Vietnam, on March 22, 1967 and May 7, 1967. In the first incident, his right cheek was lacerated, and in the second he was lacerated above his left eye. Neither injury required evacuation.
    No mention of CNS being owned by the right-wing Media Research Center, is there? No mention that CNS was originally called the "Conservative News Service" is there? No critical review of the source of the smear, is there? Nope, it's just there.

    We have to wait more than 40 paragraphs to read:

    The Johnstown Marine was wounded twice during his tour of duty, both times in helicopters. On one occasion, he was in an H-34 "Seahorse" that made a hard landing to avoid enemy fire, throwing passengers from their seats. Another attack came in mid-air. A bullet pierced the helicopter and sprayed him with shrapnel.

    He was eventually awarded two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star with Combat "V," and the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry.

    Even before he came out against the Iraq war, Mr. Murtha faced questions about his medals from political opponents. The 2006 Cybercast News Service report interviewed some of those old rivals, citing discrepancies in how Mr. Murtha has described his wounds.

    According to documents in the Marine Corps' public archives in Quantico, Va., Mr. Murtha received "lacerations" on his cheek and near his eye. He says he also hurt his knee and scratched his arm.

    It takes that long to see that the CNSNews criticisms were from Murtha's political rivals. Hardly an objective source.

    It's also interesting who Sherman gives the last word to. Get a gander:

    "A war initiated on faulty intelligence must not be followed by a premature withdrawal of our troops based on a political timetable," he wrote in an epilogue to his book.

    Now, Mr. Murtha rejects that idea, and he hopes to use his power of the purse as chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee to force the Bush administration to change course.

    "I made a mistake. I admitted I made a mistake," he said. "I couldn't get anywhere just by talking to [the Bush administration.] I had to say something publicly, and I think it's made the difference."

    Many anti-war advocates credit Mr. Murtha's switch as a turning point in the debate about the war, citing his credibility as a conservative lawmaker with a good track record on defense issues.

    Mr. Stokes [who had served with the 1st Marine Regiment in Vietnam], 75, doesn't see it that way: "If I saw Jack, I'd tell him what I really thought about him. But I don't need to see it in the newspaper."

    This is balance?

    June 23, 2007

    Black Male Solidarity Day

    WHAT: Black Male Solidarity Day (March & Rally)
    WHEN: Today, June 23, 2007, 10:00 AM
    WHERE: City-County Building on Grant at 10:00 AM. Then, the group will march to Freedom Corner for an 11:30 AM rally.

    Chris Moore (Black Horizons, offQ, KDKA Radio) was subbing on Honsberger Live (when will PCNC break down and give that show to Chris?) this week and during a discussion of the Larimer Fire a caller tried to call out Moore on his involvement with the Black community. Moore pushed back challenging the caller if he knew where Moore would be this Saturday morning and betting that he wouldn't see the caller there.

    I had no idea what Moore was referring to until I happened across the Invisible Men blog at the Post-Gazette which mentioned today's Black Male Solidarity Day:
    First up, I want to tell you about what is being billed as Black Male Solidarity Day. Organizers are asking black men to "man up" and confront the ills of violence, incarceration and joblessness to make a change for self-determination and building a collective consensus. It is asking all black males in Western Pennsylvania to gather at the City-County Building on Grant on June 23 at 10 a.m. From there, the group will march to Freedom Corner for an 11:30 a.m. rally.
    Googling "Black Male Solidarity Day" led me to a Brotha Ash Production's (BAP) webpage which gives lots more info, including a list of the many organizations and prominent people endorsing the event. (BAP also hosts a page for Tim Stevens' B-PEP, The Black Political Empowerment Project, which we've linked to in past posts.)

    You can also read about the march and rally in a couple of New Pittsburgh Courier articles (here and here) and coming back full circle, in today's P-G here.

    June 22, 2007

    Ravenstahl's and Onorato's Ties

    Hehehe. OK, that was a deliberately misleading headline, but it's for a good cause.

    Sean Collier from the Allegheny County Office of Special Events informs me that there's a "Ties on Tour” celebrity tie auction to benefit the Kane Regional Centers which includes 30 autographed ties in a silent auction throughout the month of June 2007. Winning bidders also receive a caricature of the tie donator by Pittsburgh artist Kyle Holbrook

    According to the auction website:
    All proceeds will benefit the Kane Foundation, which raises private funds to help enhance the quality of life of the residents of Allegheny County’s four Kane Regional Centers and their families. The Foundation helps to fund adult education classes, cultural and sporting events, and pet therapy, among other activities.
    Aside from Luke's and Dan's ties, you can also bid on ties from national celebs like Jimmy Kimmel, Rod Stewart and Tim Russert.

    You can view the ties up for auction at:

    You can bid online at:

    God knows who would actually want Catherine Baker Knoll's scarf, but like I said, it is all for a good cause.

    Bid away!

    Clean Up East Liberty

    WHAT: Clean Up East Liberty - "Luv Ur Block"
    WHEN: Saturday, June 23, 2007, 10:00 AM
    WHERE: Peabody High School Parking Lot, 515 N. Highland Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15206

    Join the League and like 50 million partners for the most powerful, practical demonstration of community solidarity this summer. TASK, Peabody High School, and others will "Luv Ur Block" and Redd Up the East Liberty business district and the Peabody safety zone.

    Contact mikhail at or just show up!


    10am - Meet at Peabody parking lot
    11am - Clean it up!
    1pm - Real Talk poetry slam @ Penn & Highland
    1:30pm - Lunch

    Attend a Power Shower Tonight

    WHAT: Power Shower for Courtney Patross w/ Sarah Strohmeyer
    WHEN: Friday, June 22, 2007, 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM
    WHERE: Olive or Twist, 140 6th Street, 2nd Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

    Yeah, yeah, showers can often be a real bore, but this one sounds interesting.

    The fabulous Ms. Lindsay Patross is throwing a "Power Shower" for his sis, Courtney, who has just graduated from college.

    She'd like all you equally fabulous Pittsburgh women out there to come for food and drinks and to "shower" her sis with your advice, recipes, whatever.

    What do you get out of it (aside from meeting some new interesting people? The shower is also a promotion for Sarah Strohmeyer's new book "The Sleeping Beauty Proposal."

    The whole point of this book is that women shouldn't wait to get married to do all the great things they want to do in life.

    The author will be there and you can purchase her book at the party (not required).

    If you want to check out Sarah Strohmeyer's website, it's

    You can RSVP here.


    Speaking of poll numbers, take a look here.
    In the new poll, conducted Monday and Tuesday nights, President Bush’s approval rating has reached a record low. Only 26 percent of Americans, just over one in four, approve of the job the 43rd president is doing; while, a record 65 percent disapprove, including nearly a third of Republicans.
    You have to go all the way back to Nixon to find a lower number. In early 1974, as Watergate was raging, Nixon scored a 23% approval rating in a Gallup poll. Only Nixon's gone lower than dubya.


    More bad news:

    The war in Iraq continues to drag Bush down. A record 73 percent of Americans disapprove of the job Bush has done handling Iraq. Despite “the surge” in U.S. forces into Baghdad and Iraq’s western Anbar province, a record-low 23 percent of Americans approve of the president’s actions in Iraq, down 5 points since the end of March.

    But the White House cannot pin his rating on the war alone. Bush scores record or near record lows on every major issue: from the economy (34 percent approve, 60 percent disapprove) to health care (28 percent approve, 61 percent disapprove) to immigration (23 percent approve, 63 percent disapprove). And—in the worst news, perhaps, for the crowded field of Republicans hoping to succeed Bush in 2008—50 percent of Americans disapprove of the president’s handling of terrorism and homeland security. Only 43 percent approve, on an issue that has been the GOP’s trump card in national elections since 9/11.

    Why the Democrats in Congress continue to treat this guy like he has any sort of political capital I'll never understand. Looks like a lot of Democrats feel the same way:
    In the scariest news for the Democratic candidates seeking their party’s nomination in 2008, even rank-and-file Democrats are unhappy with Congress, which is narrowly controlled by their party. Only 27 percent of Democrats approve of the job Congress is doing, a statistically insignificant difference from the 25 percent of Republicans and 25 percent of independents who approve of Congress.
    My own guess is that the minute the Dems in Congress show some backbone and stand up to this corrupt administration, the poll numbers will climb. They were elected to end dubya's bloody war. So end it. That's what the people want.

    June 21, 2007

    Fred Honsberger Still Spins

    Good to know the ole Honzman can still spin the quasi-factoids like the best of them.

    I took a listen yesterday to his show and heard him berate the Clintons for owning stock in companies they'd denounced: Fox News, Walmart and so on. He said they were dissolving the trust in order to avoid any election year embarrassments. There was wailing and gnashing of teeth over the millions made by the hypocritical Clintons.

    Too bad only part of the story got out on the KDKA airwaves. Take a look.

    Bill and Hillary Clinton liquidated the contents of their blind trust upon learning it contained investments of $5 million to $25 million that could pose conflicts of interest or prove to be embarrassing to her presidential campaign.
    Notice what my friend Fred left out? The five letter word "blind." It turns a "trust" into a "blind trust." A couple of paragraphs later:
    The Clintons looked at the contents of the blind trust in April under instructions from the Office of Government Ethics and sold the assets in May, according to a disclosure form filed Friday. The Clintons had the blind trust since former President Clinton was governor of Arkansas in 1983 and had no control over its transactions.
    Fred must've missed those last few words: "had no control over its transactions."

    So you'd think blaming them for what was in the blind trust would be, well, absurd. Wouldn't it?

    Once this point was raised by a caller (not me, by the way), Fred moved the goal posts. He said he was using the same criteria that anti-war critics use when talking about the Iraq war: They say Bush invaded Iraq to get more profits for his oil company buddies, but HIS money's also in a blind trust!

    So...yea you got me. I don't understand the Fred-logic either.

    EVENT TODAY: Summer fun and…Alberto Gonzales?

    WHAT: Alberto Gonzales Impeachment Rally in Downtown Pittsburgh by Democracy for Pittsburgh
    WHEN: Thursday, June 21, 2007, 12:15 PM to 12:30 PM
    WHERE: Mellon Square: 6th and William Penn (corner of park), Pittsburgh PA 15219

    Summertime is starting. It’s time for sun and games.

    Fifty-three senators will enjoy the independence day recess feeling good about their vote to censure Alberto Gonzales. After the recess, it will be Congress’s turn to take up the job of impeaching Mr. Gonzales.

    Right now, it’s our turn to move the issue from the Senate to the House.

    In this happy moment as summer begins, Democracy for Pittsburgh invites everyone!

    Come to a lunchtime “flash event”—15 minutes of summer fun—and help us “put impeachment on the table.” Table will be provided.

    Meet by 12:15 at Mellon Square (the corner by 6th and William Penn) downtown Pittsburgh, for this 15 minute event.

    No speeches, just brief fun. Gonzales masks and signs welcome. Other “candidates for impeachment” welcome.

    You can RSVP here or just show up!

    UPDATE: Want a Gonzales mask to wear today's event? Right click on the picture below to save it to your PC. Then you can copy it into a Word file and stretch it there to fit. Then you simply need to print it up and cut it out and add string/ribbon to the holes indicated on both sides of the mask (above the ears).

    UPDATE 2: You can see pictures of the event here.

    June 20, 2007

    Rudy Giuliani's Bad Day

    Former Mayor of New York, Rudy Giuliani, had a real bad news day yesterday.

    First, the news broke that "America's Mayor" had been booted off the Iraq Study Group (a perfect venue for someone needing some foreign policy experience, right?) because he never showed up for meetings and he was too busy making $$$ giving speeches.
    Rudolph Giuliani's membership on an elite Iraq study panel came to an abrupt end last spring after he failed to show up for a single official meeting of the group, causing the panel's top Republican to give him a stark choice: either attend the meetings or quit, several sources said.
    He cited "previous time commitments" in a letter explaining his decision to quit, and a look at his schedule suggests why -- the sessions at times conflicted with Giuliani's lucrative speaking tour that garnered him $11.4 million in 14 months.
    Here's Giuliani's response:
    Once again, the paper wrote a story with little regard to the facts. The facts are these - as someone considered a potential presidential candidate, the Mayor didn’t want the group’s work to become a political football. That, coupled with time constraints, led to his decision.
    But Greg Sargent over at TPMCafe's "Election Central" debunks that pretty handily:

    Rudy's role with the ISG was announced in March of 2006. This was presumably done with Rudy's consent. That means that Rudy was willing to serve on the ISG in March of 2006, right? Right.

    As it turns out, Rudy himself was openly telling reporters that he was a potential candidate for President many months earlier than this.

    Sargent's conclusion:

    Rudy himself was saying that he was a "potential Presidential candidate" five months before agreeing to join the ISG. He even openly stated that he'd be actively considering a run during the same year -- 2006 -- that the ISG would be doing its work. So why did Rudy join it in the first place?

    His campaign is now saying that he backed out of his ISG commitment because the fact that he was seen as a potential candidate could politicize his work for the panel -- even though that didn't stop him from signing up in the first place.


    Then there's the (alleged - and indicted) coke dealer who'd been working for his campaign in South Carolina:

    The South Carolina Law Enforcement Division has just announced that State Treasurer Thomas Ravenel has been indicted by federal jury on cocaine distribution charges.Ravenel, who was elected last fall, was named the Chairman of presidential candidate Rudy Giualiani’s (R-N.Y.) South Carolina campaign in April.
    Here's the indictment. Here's the response from the Giuliani Camp:
    Our campaign has no information about the accusations pending against Mr. Ravenel. Mr. Ravenel has stepped down from his volunteer responsibilities with the campaign.
    Notice the campaign is very careful to insert the word "volunteer" into the second sentence. Saying, of course, that Ravenel was definitely not being paid by the Giuliani campaign. But shouldn't the campaign have tossed Ravenel's butt out the door before Ravenel "stepped down"? From the text it's implied that it was Ravenel's act to remove himself from the Giuliani campaign. Shouldn't it have been the other way around?

    Still, not a good news cycle for Rudy Giuliani.

    June 19, 2007

    One Political Junkie ON THE AIR!

    Just wanted to announce that I'll be filling in (again) for Lynn Cullen next week on WPTT.

    It should be a lively three hours of talk radio - I had a blast the last time I was on.

    UPDATE: Oops, sorry. I'm just filling on NEXT WEDNESDAY.

    White House Erases E-mails

    The Washington Post is on it:
    White House aides made extensive use of political e-mail accounts for official government business, despite rules requiring that they conduct such business through official communications channels, according to new evidence disclosed yesterday by congressional investigators.
    I'm thinking the term "rules" is a little weak here. My understanding is that they're laws.

    It's the law that official government business must be handled only through official government channels. This administration had been discussing official business (appointments and the like) using Republican National Committee e-mail accounts.

    So the Administration broke the rules by conducting business via unofficial political channels - the RNC e-mail servers.

    Initially, the White House said "only a handful" of WH officials had been sending emails via the RNC. Turns out it's at least 88. Some hands.

    From Congressman Waxman's Oversight Committee Interim Report:
    There has been extensive destruction of the e-mails of White House officials by the RNC. Of the 88 White House officials who received RNC e-mail accounts, the RNC has preserved no e-mails for 51 officials. In a deposition, Susan Ralston, Mr. Rove’s former executive assistant, testified that many of the White House officials for whom the RNC has no e-mail records were regular users of their RNC e-mail accounts. Although the RNC has preserved no e-mail records for Ken Mehlman, the former Director of Political Affairs, Ms. Ralston testified that Mr. Mehlman used his account “frequently, daily.” In addition, there are major gaps in the e-mail records of the 37 White House officials for whom the RNC did preserve e-mails. The RNC has preserved only 130 e-mails sent to Mr. Rove during President Bush’s first term and no e-mails sent by Mr. Rove prior to November 2003. For many other White House officials, the RNC has no e-mails from before the fall of 2006. [emphasis in original]
    It gets worse:
    There is evidence that the Office of White House Counsel under Alberto Gonzales may have known that White House officials were using RNC e-mail accounts for official business, but took no action to preserve these presidential records. In her deposition, Ms. Ralston testified that she searched Mr. Rove’s RNC e-mail account in response to an Enron-related investigation in 2001 and the investigation of Special Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald later in the Administration. According to Ms. Ralston, the White House Counsel’s office knew about these e-mails because “all of the documents we collected were then turned over to the White House Counsel’s office.” There is no evidence, however, that White House Counsel Gonzales initiated any action to ensure the preservation of the e-mail records that were destroyed by the RNC. [emphasis in original]
    Waxman himself:
    The Presidential Records Act requires the President to “take all such steps as may be necessary to assure that the activities, deliberations, decisions, and policies that reflect the performance of his constitutional, statutory, or other official or ceremonial duties are adequately documented … and maintained as Presidential records.” To implement this legal requirement, the White House Counsel issued clear written policies in February 2001 instructing White House staff to use only the official White House e-mail system for official communications and to retain any official e-mails they received on a nongovernmental account.
    See? it is the law!

    More lawlessness from the Bush Administration.

    More Fallout from Dubya's War

    While those of us who want the war to end (now!) are excoriated by dubya's defenders for "not supporting our troops," every now and then something leaks out about how well this Administration is supporting the troops. It's usually the news is abominable.

    A while ago, there was news about the deplorable treatment found at Walter Reed.

    This time, there's news about the deplorable treatment found at Walter Reed.

    The only difference is that this second article focuses on the Army's "treatment" of its soldiers' various mental health issues - mainly Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome.

    Meet Pfc. Joshua Calloway.
    Calloway, blue-eyed and lantern-jawed, lasted nine months [of his year long deployment in Iraq] -- until the afternoon he watched his sergeant step on a pressure-plate bomb in the road. The young soldier's knees buckled and he vomited in the reeds before he was ordered to help collect body parts. A few days later he was sent to the combat-stress trailers, where he was given antidepressants and rest, but after a week he was still twitching and sleepless. The Army decided that his war was over.
    He was sent to Walter Reed for treatment. According to the article, there were lots of psychiatric drugs and little therapy. More fallout from dubya's war:

    On an early venture outside Walter Reed, he went to downtown Silver Spring and became enraged by young people laughing at Starbucks. "Don't they know there is a war going on?" he said.

    Wearing a rock band T-shirt, Calloway looked like any other 20-year-old on the sidewalk, but an unspeakable compulsion tore through him. He said he wanted to hatchet someone in the back of the neck.

    "I want to see people that I hate die," he said. "I want to blow their heads off. I wish I didn't, but I do." He made similar statements to his psychiatry team at Walter Reed.

    As if the entire thing weren't so sickening, this next part is frightening. Calloway finally finds a therapist he can work with, but it's late in the process. He's heading home soon and he's worried about how the Army would set his disability pay. However:

    His case worker had told him that she could not locate anyone at Fort Campbell to provide written proof that he had witnessed a traumatic event in combat. [His new therapist Lt. Col. Robert] Forsten picked up the phone and within days had an official statement.

    What would have happened had Calloway NOT found Forsten? How many Calloways don't? Ever?

    How much more damage needs to be done to men and women like Pfc. Calloway before this administration and its diminishing defenders say: enough!

    June 18, 2007

    Ruth Ann Dailey Needs a Better Researcher

    I haven't written on Ruth Ann Dailey in a while. She just hasn't been bloggable for a while but today, she does her conservative duty by framing a discussion of Monroeville billboards (yea, no joke - THAT'S the topic) with the same sort of spin about global climate change we've come to expect from the luvly Ruth Ann.

    She describes the climate change discussion (which she calls a "shouting match") this way:
    You could take a lantern, a la Diogenes, and go searching for an honest man in this matter, but one side would slap you down for unnecessary carbon emissions and the other side would blow out your light. Those are the two extremes, anyway, that are posed for us spectators, with science and politics undifferentiated. [emphasis added.]
    And who's on either extreme? Well, Al Gore and James Hansen (more on him in a bit) on one side and:
    On the other side of the aisle are plenty of conservatives who don't just criticize these excesses of global-warming alarmists but deny the reality of climate change altogether.
    Gore and Hansen on one extreme and unnamed conservatives who "deny the reality of climate change altogether" on the other. Very simple. But look at how she frames things. Gore/Hansen are an extreme and "alarmists." Then she goes on to discuss Hansen, himself:

    James Hansen, head of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, gives CBS's "60 Minutes" a big story criticizing the Bush administration for editing scientists' reports to downplay the urgency of global warming.

    He and CBS, however, neglect to mention that he was a consultant for Mr. Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth," received a $250,000 Heinz Award in 2001, then publicly endorsed John Kerry for president in 2004. Far more damning, Dr. Hansen sanctioned, in a 2003 Natural Science article, the attempt to influence public policy through "emphasis on extreme scenarios," which he then distinguished from "accurate" and "objective" scenarios.

    Let's take the last factoid first. The article in question is here.

    Not sure if Ruth Ann's actually read it, however.

    She criticizes Hansen for "sanction(ing)...the attempt to influence public policy through 'emphasis on extreme scenarios'..." right? You'd think that by Ruth Ann's text, Hansen was doing that now. But take a look at that part of the appendix that mentions "extreme scenarios":
    Emphasis on extreme scenarios may have been appropriate at one time, when the public and decision-makers were relatively unaware of the global warming issue, and energy sources such as "synfuels," shale oil and tar sands were receiving strong consideration. Now, however, the need is for demonstrably objective climate forcing scenarios consistent with what is realistic under current conditions. Scenarios that accurately fit recent and near-future observations have the best chance of bringing all of the important players into the discussion, and they also are what is needed for the purpose of providing policy-makers the most effective and efficient options to stop global warming.[Emphasis added.]
    That's hardly "sanctioning." And even if it were, Hansen in the next sentence is calling for "demonstrably objective climate forcing scenarios consistent with what is realistic under current conditions." "Objective" and "realistic" - hardly words coming from an alarmist on the extreme.

    The fun part comes next - when I googled "'james hansen' +NASA +'inconvenient truth'" I found, third entry down from the top. This article from every conservative's favorite media-analysis site, It points to a "report" by a 15 year old named Kristen Byrnes and quotes these paragraph:

    Hansen claims that he is an “independent”, but he seems to be the only person who believes it. Readers may already be aware of this, but if not… James Hansen was granted a quarter of a million dollars from the Heinz Environment Award a.k.a. U. S. Senator and former Presidential Candidate John Kerry’s wife’s foundation. You know the old saying; “nothing in politics is free.” So my first question is: what did he do to get the quarter of a million dollars? Was it the price for switching his political standing from “independent” to democratic when he later endorsed John Kerry for President? Was it payment for interpreting his department’s data in a way that would benefit his political friends?

    More evidence of his connections to the Democratic Party was his endorsement of Al Gore’s presidential campaign in 2000. James Hansen was also a science advisor to Al Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth.

    And then this paragraph follows right after:

    James Hansen is a scientist who admittedly uses scare tactics to convince the public that global warming will be “potentially disastrous”. Consider this statement from Hansen in his own document called “Can We Defuse the Global Warming Time Bomb?” in August of 2003.

    “Emphasis on extreme scenarios may have been appropriate at one time, when the public and decision-makers were relatively unaware of the global warming issue, and energy sources such as "synfuels," shale oil and tar sands were receiving strong consideration. Now, however, the need is for demonstrably objective climate forcing scenarios consistent with what is realistic under current conditions. Scenarios that accurately fit recent and near-future observations have the best chance of bringing all of the important players into the discussion, and they also are what is needed for the purpose of providing policy-makers the most effective and efficient options to stop global warming.”

    At least she used the whole paragraph from Hansen. Ruth Ann didn't. But notice anything familiar? Here's Ruth Ann's paragraph again:

    He and CBS, however, neglect to mention that he was a consultant for Mr. Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth," received a $250,000 Heinz Award in 2001, then publicly endorsed John Kerry for president in 2004. Far more damning, Dr. Hansen sanctioned, in a 2003 Natural Science article, the attempt to influence public policy through "emphasis on extreme scenarios," which he then distinguished from "accurate" and "objective" scenarios.
    It's all there. The $250K Hansen received from the Heinz Endowment, the "extreme scenarios" quote from "Natural Science" magazine, and, of course, Hansen being a consultant for "An Inconvenient Truth."

    Somebody please please please tell me that Ruth Ann Dailey, columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette didn't just use a "report" from a 15-year-old from Maine as research for her column.

    June 17, 2007

    More Press for PA House Bill 288

    Thanks to Crooks and Liars and Blue Gal for picking up on and linking to our post on PA House Bill 288.

    Don't forget to email your legislator on this bill!

    Delano has the last word on Luke & Tiger & Oakmont

    Jon Delano, who stirred up a hornets nest this week by delving deeper into a story originally broke by the Trib last month on Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's crashing of a private AMEX event with Tiger Woods, weighs in with an interesting overview on his Delano's Den blog.

    Jon does not back down on his reporting stating that he and Luke "'agree to disagree' on the facts."

    Like I said on John McIntire's radio show last week: you piss off the press at your own risk. I'm not saying, mind you, that Delano says that he's pissed. But how silly, as a politician, do you have to be to go from routinely lying to the media (almost expected) to lying about them?

    At the very least Ravenstahl's, ahem, "misstatements" about Delano's reporting gave the story "legs." At his blog, Delano tells how it made a one-day story go on for a good week. At most, hopefully, it has finally crushed the overlong honeymoon Luke got from most in the local MSM.

    Speaking of honeymoons, has Luke's grip on the average yinzer's heart got just a little slippery?

    Whigsboy, who frequent posts comments to this blog, said at this post that the Mayor of Pittsburgh has been voted "JagOff of the Week" at ESPN Radio Pittsburgh 1250. The Junker & Crow show have listeners call in each Wednesday to vote for the biggest jagoff. Whigsboy said that our own Lil Lukey won, but unfortunately we can't confirm that since the last winning jagoff posted on their website is for June 6th.

    We certainly hope that Whigsboy heard his radio right because it's a pretty damn funny story if true.

    Jack Kelly: workin' the Poles Polls

    In his column today, J-Kel level of spin isn't as high as in some other columns (perhaps he's reading this blog-space - good for him!), though there is one (possible) glaring error. More on that later.

    He begins:
    In a Los Angeles Times/Bloomberg poll released Tuesday, 69 percent of those surveyed think things in this country "are seriously off on the wrong track." The "wrong track" numbers haven't been this high since the late 1970s. There were good reasons then for public discontent. The economy was stagnant, but inflation was soaring. The Watergate scandal and our defeat in Vietnam were fresh in the public mind.
    Here's the Poll J-Kel was working, if you were curious to see it. I noticed that he doesn't support his argument in this paragraph with any poll data:
    But today the stock market is hitting record highs; inflation and unemployment are near record lows. Our discontent is less with our circumstances than with our perception of our political leadership.
    If you take a look at Question 11 of the poll, you might see why. Of those asked:
    Q11. Would you say that you are better off or worse off financially than you were three years ago, or would you say that you are about the same financially as you were then?
    The numbers are hardly overwhelming. Of everyone asked, 36% said they were "better off", 26% said they were "worse off" and 38% said about the same. So whether things are as good as Kelly says they are, the good news isn't trickling down to the rest of us.

    Then he moves on to dubya and Congress.

    President Bush's polling numbers have been plumbing the political depths for quite some time. But he's less unpopular than the Democratic leaders in Congress. Only 27 percent of those surveyed by the L.A. Times and Bloomberg approve of the job Congress has been doing. That's the lowest it's been in a decade.

    Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, had an approval rating of 19 percent -- half that of much-maligned Vice President Dick Cheney. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., had a more robust rating of 36 percent. But that's 11 points below Newt Gingrich's job approval rating at a comparable point in his tenure as speaker.

    First off, let me say KUDOS to Jack Kelly for going with the correct "Democratic leaders in Congress" instead of the childish "Democrat leaders in Congress."

    Gotta give credit where credit is due.

    But this is where Jack starts to get a little messy. The poll data that he cites for Speaker Pelosi is NOT found in the first LA Times/Bloomberg poll he mentions, but in this one.

    Not much of a big deal, it's still an LA Times/Bloomberg poll, but if you want people to trust that you're being completely factual, you have to get all your ducks in a row, Jack.

    A larger issue is the poll data on Senate Leader Harry Reid. The entire column looks like it's based on the poll data released this week from the LA Times/Bloomberg folks, right? So why can't I find any mention of Harry Reid in either poll?

    My search through this pdf file file for "Reid" gets no hits and my search through this pdf file for "Reid" also gets no hits. So where did Jack Kelly get the 19%?

    Possibly from here. It's not an LA Times/Bloomberg poll, but a survey of 800 likely voters done by Rasmussen on June 4-7th. It even has the numbers on Vice-President Cheney.

    The LA Times/Bloomberg poll he was citing asked all voters, then broke it down to registered voters and then Democrats, Republicans and so on. Again Rasmussen is a reliable polling firm, so there's no reason to doubt the validity of the number, but Jack Kelly should have at least mentioned the source of the data. In one case it was "All people polled" and in the other "Likely voters" surveyed - no matter how accurate the numbers are, some mention should have been made. While the argement isn't yet not apples and oranges, perhaps it's just "Macintosh" and "Red Delicious."

    And Jack does do a bit of fancy dancing in the Pelosi/Gingrich numbers. Take a look at what he said, again:
    House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., had a more robust rating of 36 percent. But that's 11 points below Newt Gingrich's job approval rating at a comparable point in his tenure as speaker.
    Actually, that's not what the poll says. The poll throws a curveball - asking people now what they remember of Gingrich then. Here's the analysis from the poll itself (page 7):
    Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the House, has a net negative rating – 41% to 37%. In a January Times/Bloomberg poll, Pelosi received an overall positive impression from the public, 34% to 21%. In comparing Pelosi to former Speaker and Republican Newt Gingrich, who was Speaker in the mid 1990’s, he received a 47% job approval rating, compared to 36% disapproving. But in his days as Speaker, Gingrich never got past 30% in overall favorable ratings.[emphasis added]
    But again, Jack Kelly doesn't say that, does he?

    With any Kelly column, there's always more to deconstruct, but let me end with some of the other poll data from both LA Times/Bloomberg poll (since it's been validated by Kelly, himself):

    67% of those polled disapprove of the way Bush is handling things in Iraq
    (only 21% approve) - Question 4

    57% of those polled support setting a "timetable for withdrawal" for Iraq
    (only 39% oppose) Question 45

    64% of those polled support "setting benchmarks or goals for political
    reforms in Iraq, and withdrawing U.S. troops if the Iraqi government fails to
    meet the goals" (only 25% oppose) - Question 46

    Happy Father's Day everybody!