Democracy Has Prevailed.

September 30, 2007

Jack Kelly Sunday

Just a few fact-checks on my good friend Jack Kelly. By the way, I didn't see him at "Off The Record" so whether he was armed that night is a moot point.

Anyway, his column this week. He's writing about Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad who is, let's face it, a kook. J-Kel calls him a "diminutive despot with the big smirk." On a "writerly" note, I am proud of Jack for resisting the siren call of the double alliteration: "a diminutive despot with the smarmy smile" He just went for a sort of cross-relation [a "diminutive" something contrasting a "big" something else].

Good for him.

Now the curious part. He writes at the end of the column (one hopes he wasn't merely padding it out to the finish):

So how to explain people like Sally Kohn, who wrote on the Daily Kos Web site why she has a "little crush" on Mahmoud Ahmadinejad:

"I know I'm a Jewish lesbian and he'd probably have me killed. But still, the guy speaks some blunt truths about the Bush administration that make me swoon."

This could only have been written by someone who doesn't think anything bad could ever happen to her, and who doesn't care that other people are being persecuted.

See, what he's doing here is trying to paint all liberals with this brush. The paragraph immediately preceding this one discusses how the "academic left" and its attraction to "charismatic Communists" (another alliteration) while macabre, is understandable. Here's his plan: Sally Kohn posts at the dailykos, so therefore everyone at the dailykos agrees with her (and presumably has a crush on the diminutive despot) and as the dailykos goes, so goes the American left: The American Left Hearts Ahmadinejad, it says so at the dailykos!

That's what he's trying to do. But the first question is, did our good friend J-Kel accurately quote Ms Kohn? Not by a long shot. She DID write that line about the crush - that much is true. But our Jack followed it with this:
This could only have been written by someone who doesn't think anything bad could ever happen to her, and who doesn't care that other people are being persecuted.
What did Sally follow the crush line with? Here is her dailykos posting. After continuing in the crush groove and saying Ahmadinejad reminds her of Kermit the Frog (huh??) she writes:
I want to be very clear. There are certainly many things about Ahmadinejad that I abhor — locking up dissidents, executing of gay folks, denying the fact of the Holocaust, potentially adding another dangerous nuclear power to the world and, in general, stifling democracy.
But didn't Jack Kelly just say that she didn't care about people being presecuted? Her "crush" seems to be based on the charges he's made against the Bush Administration. Charges she agrees with. For instance (this is from Ahmadinejad's letter to Bush in May):

There are prisoners in Guantanamo Bay that have not been tried, have no legal representation, their families cannot see them and are obviously kept in a strange land outside their own country. There is no international monitoring of their conditions and fate. No one knows whether they are prisoners, POWs, accused or criminals.

European investigators have confirmed the existence of secret prisons in Europe too. I could not correlate the abduction of a person, and him or her being kept in secret prisons, with the provisions of any judicial system. For that matter, I fail to understand how such actions correspond to the values outlined in the beginning of this letter, i.e. the teachings of Jesus Christ (Peace Be Upon Him), human rights and liberal values.

She even points out the disconnect between Ahmadinejad's "flagrantly" (yes, she uses that word) trouncing the rule of law in Iran while criticizing Bush for doing the same.

Something Jack didn't tell you.

I'm not defending sallykohn's blog post, just pointing out how Jack Kelly misrepresented it. In fact I think the silly parts of her blog post, for instance that Ahmadinejad is cuddly like Kermit, are silly enough to sully (see I can do it too!) the rest of the piece.

I'm also not going to defend Ahmadinejad himself. I think he's a kook and a very dangerous kook indeed. But I'd also have to agree with Bill Richardson on this. Ahmadinejad is not the guy in control over there. Richardson also said that while he wouldn't have invited Ahmadinejad, it's a question of academic freedom - and Columbia is free to invite whomever it wants to speak.

Just like Bill O'Reilly.

September 29, 2007

Banned Books Reading - THIS MONDAY

Ladies and Gentlemen;

Maria already posted about this, but I have to make a slight addition to the news. I'm now HOSTING the program. I'll be the guy introducing each reader and reading the bios to the audience.

And that also means that I'll be the one reading last. So to hear my reading you'll have to sit through the whole thing.

See you there!

September 28, 2007

Living in the Future

BRUCE! was on The Today Show this morning and he had something to say about the last six or so years while singing his new song "Living in the Future." It's definitely worth a listen:

Springsteen: ‘Living in the Future’
Springsteen: ‘Living in the Future’

Off The Record - The Final Post

I can report back that the show was great. I laughed, I cried, It was better than Cats.

Some quick thoughts:
  • The food in the lobby was very interesting. I had duck for the very first time and I made a couple of trips to the chocolate fountain for dessert, though an astute friend of mine pointed out to me the disconnect of having such high-falootin' food at a fundraiser for a food bank. She's very smart, that astute friend of mine.
  • Ken Rice's opening was very very funny. Took potshots at nearly everyone, David Johnson (or more specifically David Johnson's Johnson) included. A couple of Luke jokes in there (Luke's a kid. It's nighttime so no one knows where Luke is now) and so on. He mentioned a few intown blogs (not this one, the sonuvabich). Hat's off to the Angry Drunk Bureaucrat and the Carbolic Smoke Ball for getting mentioned. Rice did call it the "Carbolic Smoke BOMB" though. Hahahaha
  • Dan Onorato's pre-show "response" was funny, though not nearly up to Rice's level. He made some Luke jokes, too.
  • The show was filled with gags and puns, an on stage birth and a truly disturbing impersonation of Sofie Masloff.
  • You haven't lived until you've seen Doug Shields do his "Pirate Bob" impression. That one still has me shivering in me timbers.

Dr. Goddess was there, read what she has to say about the"Dreamgirls" song parody. And I'm not sure, but I think I met Mac Booker last night as well.

Pick Mayor Luke's Campaign Song!

Pick Mayor Luke's Campaign Song




Really, at this point you have to wonder if Ravenstahl has some sort of, um, condition or something....

Gov. Richardson was In Town Tonight

Ok, so I was late. I had to work and the earliest I could get to Wholey's was about 20 to 5. But I was late. By the time I arrived Jon Delano and his film crew were packing up to go. Andy Gastmeyer and his crew were already out the door and around the corner. Luckily, Jim O'Toole was still there. He was standing at the door chatting. I asked him for directions to the Pittsburgh Room.

After getting the directions, I walked into the store, between the displays of chilled whole fish, and up one set of stairs, past a table full of big-fish sandwiches, and up a second set of stairs to where Governor Bill Richardson was holding court with a couple dozen twenty-somethings. Pitt Democrats, I later learned. Pitt Dems with a smattering of Pitt Dem Law students.

Great, so I was late and I was at least double the average age in the room. The group, I gotta say, included someone who really really really needed a shower. I couldn't tell who it was, but GEEZ pungent isn't the word. Probably not the best way to meet a guy running for the highest office in the land. But what do I know? The year I graduated college, Ronald Reagan was still President and ABC had just begun broadcasting Moonlighting.

When I walked in, Congressman Mike (did you know they call him "Mad Dog"?) Doyle, Governor Richardson, and Dan Wholey, who's running against Congressman Tim Murphy, sat, chomping on the sandwiches and chatting up the kids.

I caught the tail end of the discussion about FISA and the recent restructuring of the law. "There's no reason not to have judicial review." I heard the Mad Dog Doyle say. Good for him.

Then the conversation turned to war - both present and (possibly) future. Notably Iran. To Richardson, while Iran is a major power in the Middle East, it's President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is not. He's kept, according to Richardson, on a very short leash by the Ayatollahs in power. He pressed the idea of diplomacy with the moderate clerics in Iran.

Addressing the college kids in the room, Richardson ended his talk by pointing out 4 legacies that his older generation was leaving them:
  • The Debt
  • Greenhouse Gasses
  • The Social Safety Net
  • The Health Care System

And urged them to keep working to "take our country back."

One-on-one he and I discussed the last night's Democratic debate in New Hampshire, FISA, the war and the ad. On last night's debate, he said he felt it was his best performance. He was able to differentiate himself from the rest of the pack, he said, on the war.

He said the FISA compromise was "shameful." The only eavesdropping allowed should be done with a court order, he said. The fact that the Congress let the President off the hook wasn't a good thing either. By the way, Bill Richardson is the one who pointed out that:

something is wrong when the New England Patriots face stiffer penalties for spying on innocent Americans than Dick Cheney and George Bush.

When I asked him what, if everything went his way and he's the one taking the oath of office in late January, 2009, would be the first thing he did in office, he said he'd announce a full withdrawal of the troops from Iraq. He'd proposed a Bosnia-type negotiation setup for a partitioning of the country into three parts with an all muslim peacekeeping force to keep the peace. "No one wants an Iraq civil war." He said.

While he disagreed with the moveon ad, he wouldn't have voted for its censure, he said. He still feels that is a good organization and that it's good for the democratic process. They made a mistake, he added, and everyone makes mistakes. The outrage coming from the other side of the political aisle is just the Republicans trying to get some mileage out of the story. They want to focus on anything other than the mess they've made of things.

When he was asked later why he seems to have more success reaching out to Republicans than some of the other Democratic candidates, he said he's the best at reaching out and bringing people together. He said it's about "American solutions" not "Democratic solutions" or "Republican solutions."

Smart guy. Loved the fact he called the FISA compromise "shameless." Here's to hoping more Democrats start to feel the same way.

September 27, 2007

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl Needs Your Help!

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl needs your help!

He's managed all on his own to snub an African American group, and a group of women, and another African American group, all in favor of hanging out with rich white guys.

You see the problem, right? He's already repeating himself!

If he snubs an LGBT group he would be in danger of possibly snubbing some rich white guy, and this being Pittsburgh and not Philly, it may be difficult for him to find a group of Latinos to snub in time before the November election.

Please help Mayor "Where In The World Is" Luke Ravenstahl find another group of citizens to snub in favor of more rich white dudes.

I'll start off:
Mayor Luke Ravenstahl should next snub ____________ in favor of some rich white guys.

... a group of penniless orphans....
Now it's your turn....

In Honor of Sgt. Omar Mora & Sgt. Yance T. Gray
(A Project of Comments From Left Field)

Did you catch this over at Comments from Left Field?

On Monday September 10, 2007 Sgt. Omar Mora and Sgt. Yance T. Gray died in a vehicle accident in western Baghdad, two of seven U.S. troops killed in the incident which was reported just as Gen. David Petraeus was about to report to Congress on progress in the "surge."

Both serving in the Army’s 82nd Airborne, America at large would not come to know Sgt. Gray and Sgt. Mora’s names until August 19th of this year. Omar and Tell joined with five other soldiers to pen a critical OpEd in the New York Times entitled, The War As We Saw It.

In honor of these men please join the bloggers of Comments From Left Field in making a joint contribution on their behalf to the Fisher House. We urge you to give what you can to this noble cause for only in this way can Omar and Tell continue to make the lives of their fellow soldiers better even after their passing. We can think of no honor more fitting of a soldier.
Click here to read the full post at Comments.

More importantly, click HERE to donate.

Verizon Gags NARAL

From The New York Times:

Saying it had the right to block “controversial or unsavory” text messages, Verizon Wireless has rejected a request from Naral Pro-Choice America, the abortion rights group, to make Verizon’s mobile network available for a text-message program.
Well, isn't that special!

Maybe Verizon isn't the company you want to choose for your own text messaging as they might object to something you write.

Bunch of wankers.

And, isn't it ironic that the text message from NARAL was about a gag rule?

Naral provided an example of a recent text message that it has sent to supporters: “End Bush’s global gag rule against birth control for world’s poorest women! Call Congress. (202) 224-3121. Thnx! Naral Text4Choice.”
The article goes on to talk about how texting has become "an extraordinarily effective political tool."

Unfortunately Verizon seems to have a problem with political free speech and the First Amendment.

If you have a problem with that, maybe you'd want to contact Verizon:

Verizon Communications
Corporate Headquarters
140 West Street
New York, NY 10007

Telephone: 800-621-9900 WAIT! See below***
And, speaking of Verizon’s propensity to gag (and their all around sucky service), if you recall I've blogged previously about my problems with their DSL service and now my main phone line is completely dead (as of yesterday morning or possibly the night before). So if anyone has been trying to call me (and getting a busy signal), you'll need to email me as they can't send anyone out here until tomorrow.

Bunch of wankers.

*** So before I hit "Publish Post" I decided I should call Verizon first. The operator at corporate headquarters directed my call to Verizon Landline (800-483-7988) who couldn't take my complaint because it was a "wireless" issue. They gave me the number for Verizon Wireless (800-922-0204).

Verizon Wireless couldn't answer to my complaint so I asked for a corporate complaint line as I'm not trying to complain about wireless service as I don't have wireless service.

Wireless told me that I could go online to complain by going to and looking for "Executive Relations." I said how ironic it was that a PHONE company did not have a corporate PHONE complaint line, but he didn't much react to that.

I decided instead to go back to their main corporate number (800-621-9900) and explain again to the operator what I was trying to complain about. When she said that they had no PHONE line to speak to someone to complain to about corporate policies. I used my irony line with her and she connected me to someone she claims to be the assistant to the CEO of Verizon (Ivan Seidenberg). So, Judy A. Mitchell, on the off chance that you are Seidenberg's assistant, or whoever you are, that's how I got your voicemail and left my complaint.

A PHONE company with no PHONE complaint line. Again, bunch of wankers.

UPDATE: Fast moving story! "Verizon Reverses Itself on Abortion Messages" HA!

UPDATE 2: A reminder that Verizon shouldn't have been allowed to gag anyone in the first place:



The Dan Rather Story - It Ain't What You Might Think

If you have a free moment, pop on over to this story at Media Matters. It's on "Rathergate" and it's sure to cause one or more of our local conservative friends (and you know who you are) to blow a few gaskets.

Some choice excerpts. Eric Boehlert starts by asking rhetorically who's more upset by Dan Rather's recent statements about the suit he filed:

Was it executives at CBS News who now face the prospect of reliving one of the network's darkest chapters via endless depositions from a plaintiff who says he won't accept a cash settlement?

Or was it right-wing bloggers, some of whom likely punched their TV sets in frustration watching Rather go on national television and claim, correctly, that nobody has ever proven that the memos he used in his report were fake, and pointing out that the basic facts of the Texas Air National Guard story -- that Bush walked away from his military commitment during the Vietnam War for months at a time--are still not in dispute.

Two things that lotsa folks believe to be true, in fact aren't.
  1. The Killian Memos were proven to be forgeries - they weren't.
  2. The "Bush skipped out of his Air National Guard duty" story is bogus - it isn't.
Boehlert links to this mediamatters story that itself links to the report from the commission set up to investigate "Rathergate" and quotes the executive summary as saying that the panel:
"identified a number of issues that raise serious questions about the authenticity of the documents and their content," it "has not been able to conclude with absolute certainty whether the ... documents are authentic or forgeries."
So while there are serious questions about the authenticity of the documents, the commission (which included former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh, by the way) wasn't able to prove they were forged.

Point 1.

Point 2 - Boehlert, after some needed criticising of the media's coverage of the story sets up his ending:
And, oh yeah, how do I know the story about Bush evading his military service is true even though bloggers and the mainstream media declared, in the wake of Memogate, that it was not? It's easy. Using Bush's own military records, I'll list 10 glaring discrepancies regarding his fraudulent military service, none of which is based on the disputed memos that were aired by CBS News in 2004. And yes, I'm pretty sure all 10 discrepancies will come as news flashes to the same journalists who mocked Rather last week for having the temerity to suggest his National Guard report was true. [emphasis in original]
Go read them - they're very enlightening.

While you're at it, check out this site and this site and definitely this site.

The story is true - Dan Rather botched it.

George Bush Lied - As If We Needed More Evidence

This story's been floating around for a day or so. Here it is from Editor and Publisher:

El Pais, the highest-circulation daily in Spain, today published what it said was the transcript of a private talk between President George W. Bush and Spanish Prime Minister Jose Maria Aznar on February 22, 2003, concerning the coming U.S. invasion of Iraq. It took place at the ranch in Crawford, Texas.

The conversation took place on the President's ranch in Crawford, Texas. The confidential transcript was prepared by Spain's ambassador to the United States, Javier Ruperez, the paper said.

Bush purportedly said he planned to invade Iraq inf March "if there was a United Nations Security Council resolution or not....We have to get rid of Saddam. We will be in Baghdad at the end of March."

Think Progress has some additional info:
Just a few days later, Bush insisted to the American public that war with Iraq was not a certainty [links in original]
And then gave some examples. For instance on March 3, 2003 dubya said:
I’ve not made up our mind about military action. Hopefully, this can be done peacefully. [emphasis in original
And then on March 8, he said:
We are doing everything we can to avoid war in Iraq. But if Saddam Hussein does not disarm peacefully, he will be disarmed by force. [emphasis in original
Ladies and gentlemen, these are what's known in the biz as lies.

Off The Record VII: Blogged To Death

Just another reminder.

If you can, go see Off The Record tonight.

It's at the Byham dahntahn and tickets start at $20 and the proceeds go to the Pittsburgh Food Bank.

As I wrote here, it looks like it's gonna be very funny. Mayor Luke gets skewered, the Pirates get skewered, the local media gets skewered, you know - the usual suspects get skewered.

None of us, as far as I know, get skewered however. As the Python boys once said, the only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about.

Anyway, there's singing, there's dancing, there's Dennis Roddy singing and dancing - what's not to love?

September 26, 2007

How's This for Hypocrisy?

From the McClatchy papers:

President Bush implored the United Nations on Tuesday to recommit itself to restoring human decency by liberating oppressed people and ending famine and disease.

Speaking before the United Nations General Assembly, the president called for renewed efforts to enforce the U.N.'s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a striking point of emphasis for a leader who's widely accused of violating human rights in waging war against terrorism.

Bush didn't mention the U.S. prisons in Afghanistan or at Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay, the U.S. practice of holding detainees for years without legal charges or access to lawyers, or the CIA's "rendition" kidnappings of suspects abroad, all issues of concern to human rights activists around the world.

For those of you who don't (or won't) remember, here are some reminders.

At Gitmo, it took a decision by the Supreme Court to change dubya's policy of imprisoning terror suspects indefinitely - without trial or access to lawyers. And that was only a year ago.

The Bush administration has agreed to apply the Geneva Conventions to all terrorism suspects in U.S. custody, bowing to the Supreme Court's recent rejection of policies that have imprisoned hundreds for years without trials.

The Pentagon announced yesterday that it has called on military officials to adhere to the conventions in dealing with al-Qaeda detainees. The administration also has decided that even prisoners held by the CIA in secret prisons abroad must be treated in accordance with international standards, an interpretation that would prohibit prisoners from being subjected to harsh treatment in interrogations, several U.S. officials said.

At Abu Ghraib, well we all know about Abu Ghraib.

And dubya's lecturing the world about human rights?

September 25, 2007

Blue-Green Mixer Tonight!

Blue-Green Mixer

Tuesday, Sept. 25
United Steelworkers Bldg. Lobby
Blvd. of the Allies and Stanwix, Downtown

From the Sierra Club:
Relax, unwind and get to know some new faces at our first PA Blue-Green social. Please join us for refreshments and mingle with Steelworkers and Sierra Club members

Refreshments provided—FREE!

The Blue-Green Alliance

The Blue-Green Alliance is a strategic alliance between the Sierra Club and the United Steelworkers. It was founded on the principle that we can have good jobs and a clean environment. Safe workplaces mean healthy neighborhoods, and in a carbon-constrained world, for jobs to be economically sustainable they must be environmentally sustainable.

For more info email or call 412-802-6161


Your Tax Dollars At Work

I caught this on last night's Countdown. Our favorite whoremonger, Republican Senator David Vitter, was on KO's worst person list last night.

By the way, on that list we also find that the source of the "Petreaus/Betray us" pun is none other than our favorite drug addict, Rush Limbaugh.

Turns out that our John has been busy:

Sen. David Vitter, R-La., earmarked $100,000 in a spending bill for a Louisiana Christian group that has challenged the teaching of Darwinian evolution in the public school system and to which he has political ties.

The money is included in the labor, health and education financing bill for fiscal 2008 and specifies payment to the Louisiana Family Forum "to develop a plan to promote better science education."

The earmark appears to be the latest salvo in a decades-long battle over science education in Louisiana, in which some Christian groups have opposed the teaching of evolution and, more recently, have pushed to have it prominently labeled as a theory with other alternatives presented. Educators and others have decried the movement as a backdoor effort to inject religious teachings into the classroom.

For the record, I had nothing to do with the use of the metaphor "backdoor effort" though I am assuming that in Vitter's case, it would probably cost extra - at least for the lube.

Here's some info on the group itself:

The nonprofit Louisiana Family Forum, launched in Baton Rouge in 1999 by former state Rep. Tony Perkins, has in recent years taken the lead in promoting "origins science," which includes the possibility of divine intervention in the creation of the universe.

The group's stated mission is to "persuasively present biblical principles in the centers of influence on issues affecting the family through research, communication and networking." Until recently, its Web site contained a "battle plan to combat evolution," which called the theory a "dangerous" concept that "has no place in the classroom." The document was removed after a reporter's inquiry.

Gee, I wonder why.

Here's their website, by the way. From it, you can learn many many wondrous things such as the groups core values. One of which is:
We believe that life-long, faithful marriage is the first Human institution ordained by God and therefore, the basic, irreducible building block of society. We believe the value of marriage in a community will determine that community’s health, happiness, productivity and safety.
I wonder what they think of a guy who uses money to hire prostitutes? And what about that $100,000 he just slipped them. Did he leave it in an envelope for them on the dresser when he was done?

Eyes Wide Open

"Forward, the Light Brigade!"
Was there a man dismay'd?
Not tho' the soldier knew
Someone had blunder'd:
Their's not to make reply,
Their's not to reason why,
Their's but to do and die:
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.


Off The Record

Here's the P-G's coverage of this year's "Off The Record."
Now in its seventh year, "Off the Record VII" still spoofs the city of Pittsburgh and all that makes us unique. As always, this one-night-only musical extravaganza pokes fun at local politics, politicians and other newsmakers, but this year, it turns its guns on itself. Welcome to "Off the Record VII: Blogged to Death!" a satirical look at local media's attempt to stay afloat on the wave of technology.
And some more info:
Sponsored by the Pittsburgh Newspaper Guild/CWA (mainly writers and artists at the Post-Gazette) and AFTRA (the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists), "Off the Record" has raised $131,000 for the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, with additional donations going to the two unions' scholarship funds, pediatric AIDS research, Hurricane Katrina victims and the Highmark Caring Place.
Is anyone else planning on going? The tickets start at $20 bucks - that might be a little steep. However (this is from the website):

Your ticket includes the Off The Record VII pre-show (6:30-8pm) and post-show (9:30-10:30) receptions in the Byham lobby. Great food provided by La Prima Expresso, Jenny Lee Bakery, Breadworks, McGinnis Sisters, Legends of the North Shore, Hyeholde, and Whole Foods. There is a cash bar for your enjoyment.

Typical. A cash bar.

See you there!

September 24, 2007


From a recent NYTimes editorial:
If you were one of the Americans waiting for Congress, under Democratic control, to show leadership on the war in Iraq, the message from the Senate is clear: “Nevermind.” The same goes for those waiting for lawmakers to fix the damage done to civil liberties by six years of President Bush and a rubber-stamp Republican Congress.
On the Senate filibuster:
We support the filibuster as the only way to ensure a minority in the Senate can be heard. When the cloture votes failed this week, the Democrats should have let the Republicans filibuster. Democratic leaders think that’s too risky, since Congress could look like it’s not doing anything. But it’s not doing a lot now.
And on Republican hypocrisy regarding said filibuster:

The current Republican leadership, now in the minority, has organized its entire agenda around the filibuster. In July, the McClatchy newspaper group reported that Republicans were using the threat of filibuster more than at any other time in the nation’s history.

Remember, this is the same batch of Republican senators who denounced Democrats as obstructionist and even un-American and threatened to change the Senate’s rules when Democrats threatened filibusters in 2005 over a few badly chosen judicial nominees. Now Republicans are using it to prevent consideration of an entire war.

Reminded me of something I read at Huffingtonpost:
If Democrats really want to end the war, and to carry out the job the people sent them to do in November of last year, they need to tell the kinds of stories I'm hearing when I talk to servicemen and women every time I go to the airport, like the 23-year old mother of two who just got sent back for her second tour of duty, who had tears in her eyes as she described what it's like to abandon her three-month old baby and how her older child didn't recognize her when she returned home from her last deployment. If they want to end the war, they should put forward the most responsible bill they can propose, with whatever guidelines or timetables they believe are truly in the best interest of our nation and our soldiers, and if the Republicans filibuster, let them filibuster, and attach the names and faces of every soldier killed or maimed in the meantime to those who are obstructing the will of the people. That's supporting our troops, and that's what will bring this terrible chapter in American history to a close, as Americans start to see on television, live and on camera, who is supporting our troops and who is sending them to their graves while happily spending time with their own families or planning lavish White House weddings for their own children when we are allegedly engaged in a battle for our freedom and civilization. [emphasis added]
Let them filibuster, then glue it to them forever. How difficult is that?

September 23, 2007

Jack Kelly Sunday

This time, he's writing about Syria. While the whole column isn't about WMD, he begins with it.

I decided, after doing a little research on what's in today's P-G, to take a somewhat different approach. Let's contrast and compare what he's saying about WMD in Syria NOW with what he's said in the past.

Should be fun, no?


An explosion ripped through a military base near Aleppo in northern Syria July 23, killing 15 Syrian soldiers and dozens of Iranian engineers. Summer temperatures of up to 122 degrees Fahrenheit caused an ammunition dump to "cook off," the Syrian government said.

Since the explosion occurred at 4:30 in the morning, some were skeptical of the government's explanation.

Jane's Defence Weekly is reporting in its Sept. 29 issue that the blast occurred while the Syrians and Iranians were attempting to put a chemical warhead on a Scud C missile. Most of the injuries were caused by the dispersion of nerve and mustard gas.

I'm wondering why he doesn't say whether these chemical weapons were the same weapons that he'd written previously were shipped into Syria before the war.

Take a look. He wrote on February 5, 2006:
Special Republican Guard brigades loaded yellow barrels with the skull and crossbones sign on each barrel onto two airliners from which the seats had been removed, [former Iraqi Air Force General] Georges Sada said. There were 56 flights in all.
After pointing out some skepticism as to Sada's story, he went on to list some other sources telling similar stories of Saddam's WMD being moved into Syria before the war, even ending the piece with:
Those who have bet their political futures that Saddam had no WMD may be starting to sweat.
And then on November 6, 2005 he wrote:

The Iraq Survey Group found no large stockpiles of chemical or biological weapons in Iraq. This could be because no such weapons actually existed.

Or it could be because they were moved to another country between the time Congress authorized the use of force against Iraq and when the war actually began.
"We've had six or seven credible reports of Iraqi weapons being moved into Syria before the war," a senior administration official told reporter Kenneth Timmerman.

And then on May 2, 2004:

...Israel's military chief told an Israeli newspaper there is "no doubt" that Iraq possessed both chemical weapons and the means to deliver them. In the first two days of the war, the United States -- acting on tips from Israeli intelligence -- destroyed the aircraft Saddam had prepared to carry chemical munitions, Lt. Gen. Moshe Yaalon said. The munitions themselves were buried, or transferred to other countries.

"We very clearly saw that something crossed into Syria," he said.

"We have six or seven credible reports of Iraqi weapons being moved into Syria before the war," a senior administration official told Kenneth Timmerman of Insight magazine.

A Syrian intelligence officer, in letters smuggled to an anti-regime activist in Paris, identified three sites in Syria where Iraqi WMD are being stored, Timmerman said. The sites were the same as those identified earlier by a Syrian journalist who defected to Europe.

Note the overlap from the previous article. The bit of information from Kenneth Timmerman was used both times.

And then on February 1, 2004:
But Kay also said there was ample evidence of ongoing WMD programs in Iraq, and programs to build missiles with longer ranges than permitted by U.N. resolutions. There were indications, he said, that some weapons of mass destruction may have been moved to Syria. These statements received little attention from journalists.
And finally this on December 21, 2003:
The recently retired director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, Lt. Gen. James Clapper, told Agence France Presse in October there was evidence from satellite imagery that Saddam moved WMD into Syria just before the onset of hostilities.
So with all that "evidence" that Saddam's WMD were moved to Syria, why isn't J-Kel connecting the dots and saying they were once Saddam's?

Or if there is evidence they're not, why not say that? Wouldn't that be an even scarier scenario: The stuff the Iranians and Syrians were trying to load onto scud missles was from some other additional source than Saddam Hussein's Iraq.

I wonder why no connection.

September 22, 2007


September 22, 2007 -- TODAY!

Blue Print for a Livable Hill
WHAT: Blue Print Community Meeting
WHEN: TODAY! Saturday, September 22, Noon
WHERE: Blakey Program Center, 1908 Wylie Avenue, Pgh PA

A community-driven organization including more than a hundred groups, The One Hill CBA Coalition has a platform designed to make the Hill District a more livable community. Through the Coalition, the Hill District community went through an exhaustive and transparent process to engage residents and stakeholders of the community to give input into this platform for creating a community benefits agreement. These broad platforms will allow the One Hill negotiating team to negotiate in good faith with the SEA to secure a CBA representing the priorities of the community. The Blue Print for a Livable Hill includes: - Master Plan to build a Livable Community, - Livable Hill Community Improvement Fund, - Family Sustaining Jobs and First Source Career Opportunities, - A Community Grocery Store/Economic Anchor, - Community/Multi Purpose Center, - Historic Preservation and Greenspace, - Policy Commitments for a Livable Hill

September 25, 2007

Planned Parenthood Cocktails for a Cause
Cocktails for a Cause
WHEN: Tuesday, September 25, 2007, 5:30 PM - 8:30 PM
WHERE: Doublewide Grill, 2339 E. Carson St., Pittsburgh PA 15203

Good drinks, good company, good cause! 70% of all beer sales to benefit Planned Parenthood.

September 27, 2007

Off the Record VII: Blogged to Death!
WHAT: Off the Record VII: Blogged to Death!
WHEN: Thursday, September 27, 2007, 8:00 PM
WHERE: Byham Theater, 101 Sixth Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15222

The 7th year of a Pittsburgh comic tradition, in which professional performers, journalists and politicians use comedy and song to satirize Pittsburgh newsmakers like Joe Hardy, Luke Ravenstahl and Cyril Wecht. The emcee is Ken Rice and Dan Onorato offers comic rebuttal, all to raise funds for Greater Pittsburgh Community Food. Tickets: 412-456-6666, $60, $40, $20

September 28, 2007

Council District 6 Night at PNC Park
WHAT: Council District 6 Night at PNC Park Fundraising Program (Pirates vs. Cardinals)
WHEN: Friday, September 28, 2007, 7:05 PM
WHERE: PNC Park, Pittsburgh PA

Visit PNC Park and support Council District 6, the Central Outreach Resource & Referral Center (COC), and Northside Coalition for Fair Housing through a special fundraising program. Join Councilwoman Tonya D. Payne as she welcomes District 6 to the ballpark. A portion of each ticket will go to support the Central Outreach Resource & Referral Center (COC) and the Northside Coalition for Fair Housing. Tickets available by advance sales only through Chaz Kellem at 412.325.4488. L/R Field Grandstand - $9.00 ($2.00 will be donated), Outfield Box - $20.00 ($5.00 will be donated)

October 1, 2007

12th Annual Banned Books Reading!
12th Annual Banned Books Reading!
WHEN: Monday, October 1, 2007, 7 p.m.
WHERE: Carnegie Library Lecture Hall, Oakland, Pittsburgh PA

The Pittsburgh Chapter of the ACLU, WYEP 91.3FM and Carnegie Library fight censorship on Monday, October 1st, with the 12th Annual Banned Books Reading, 7 pm at Carnegie Library Lecture Hall. This signature event celebrates free speech and fights censorship. We've lined up some of Pittsburgh's best personalities to read from their favorite banned or challenged works including: David DeAngelo, Dayvoe of 2 Political Junkies Blog. For more information call 412-681-7736 or email Free & open to the public.

October 3, 2007

Executive Women's Council Ravenstahl/DeSantis Debate
Ravenstahl-DeSantis to Discuss the Issues
WHEN: Wednesday, October 3, 2007, 7:30 AM to 9:00 AM.
WHERE: Duquesne Club, 325 Sixth Avenue (Downtown) Pittsburgh, PA 15219

Cost for all attendees is $28, which includes a full breakfast. Registration is required: Sponsors: Executive Women’s Council, Women & Girls Fdtn. & Pgh-All. Cty. Women’s Commission

YDAC Meet the Candidate Night: Patrick Dowd
YDAC Meet the Candidate Night: Patrick Dowd, City Council Candidate District 7
WHEN: Wednesday, October 3, 2007, 6:00 - 8:00 PM
WHERE: Firehouse Lounge in the Strip District

Meet one of Pittsburgh’s most exciting young candidates. Patrick Dowd took a new excitement to the Pittsburgh Public School Board and soon he will take that excitement to City Hall. Join us for a fun night and meet and learn about Patrick Dowd. This event will be held at the Firehouse Lounge in the Strip District and there will be a $5 cover.

Sierra Club 101
WHAT: Sierra Club 101: An Introduction to Exploring, Enjoying, and Protecting our Planet
WHEN: Wednesday, October 3, 2007, 6:30 - 8:00 PM
WHERE: The Sierra Club Office 3109 Forbes Ave (Oakland), Pgh, PA

At this introductory workshop, you’ll: learn more about the Sierra Club, what we do, and how we do it. Meet other members and activists. Find out about the many ways that you can get involved in protecting our environment. Share your ideas for how we can build an environmental community in the Pittsburgh area. No matter whether you have 15 min. or 15 hours, you can make a difference, and at Sierra Club 101, you’ll learn how. RSVP by calling 412-802-6161 or Email

October 12 – 14, 2007

Pennsylvania NOW Annual Convention
WHAT: Pennsylvania NOW Annual Convention
WHEN: Friday - Sunday, October 12 – 14, 2007,
WHERE: Pittsburgh Hilton, 600 Commonwealth Place, Pittsburgh, PA

PA NOW is celebrating both their 35th anniversary AND the 35th anniversary of the passage of Title IX, which mandates equal access for women in education and sports programs. Info & to register:

September 21, 2007

Lib'rul Media? Yea, Right.

Here's something to chew over. It was posted at TalkingPointsMemo.

Last night, news broke that the FBI had been taping phone calls placed to the senior Republican in the United States Senate as part of a bribery investigation stretching back more than a year. In fact, the man alleged to have bribed the senator is cooperating with investigators, and the calls recorded included some he placed at the FBI's behest.

The Washington Post, always eager to cover political stories of national import, ran the news on page A10. Most papers gave it similar prominence, if they ran the item it at all.

Contrast that to the (admittedly luried) tale of Norman Hsu, fronted by papers around the nation. That was a case of a major donor to Democratic figures who turned out (unbeknownst to the politicians to whom he donated) to be a crook and a fraud. That's big news. But when a businessman who is a major donor to Republican politicians turns out to be a crook and a fraud, and some of the nation's senior legislators are revealed to have knowingly accepted his bribes and funneled him earmarks in return, it's hardly worth mentioning.

Where's the outrage?


Olbermann's Commentary

MSNBC has the transcript.

Some highlights. Olbermann had just played an ad from the 2006 election cycle, one that said, in essence, vote Republican or the terrorists will kill you. This follows:

Terrorizing your own people in hopes of getting them to vote for your own party has never brought as much as a public comment from you?

The Republican Hamstringing of Captain Max Cleland and lying about Lieutenant John Kerry met with your approval?

But a shot at General Petraeus, about whom you conveniently ignore it, was you who reduced him from four-star hero to a political hack, merits this pissy juvenile blast at the Democrats on national television?

Your hypocrisy is so vast that if we could somehow use it to fill the ranks in Iraq you could realize your dream and keep us fighting there until the year 3000.

The line between the military and the civilian government is not to be crossed.

Go watch it. Keith's recent emergency surgery certainly hasn't dulled his outrage.

September 20, 2007

DeSantis Open House

A few hours ago I got to watch something the DeSantis Campaign HQ described as a "media open house" though it was really more of a kick-off for the campaign to introduce new volunteers to the folks running the show over there.

There were snacks and beverages and campaign swag for everyone.

And if the quality of brownies and cookies have anything to do with the success of a political campaign, this race is over. Those brownies were stellar, the cookies nearly as good.

Of course campaigns are NOT decided by the quality of the baked goods (no matter how much we'd want them to be). Campaigns are decided on a number of things - one of which is the set of ideas presented to the public. The meme for the DeSantis campaign can, as far as I could tell, be boiled down to one simple word: change.

The HQ itself is a modest set of rooms one floor below from the Republican HQ downtown. I felt rather uneasy, being so close to so many Republicans. It wasn't that bad after a few brownies, to be honest. No one had any horns or a pointed tail - not that I could see, anyway. The walls are freshly painted a calm blue and green. There's a room called the "coalition room" with lists tacked up on the walls of the various groups (business groups, women's groups, gay organizations, and so on) the campaign is looking to reach out to. Another room contained some chairs and a podium. It's where DeSantis can have press conferences in-house.

One of the campaign's communications folks told me they realise in a city that's 5-to-1 Democratic-to-Republican, they're going to have to reach out beyond their party and so they're aiming not only for Republicans, but to independents and to those who just don't want to vote for "the machine." They're looking to convince folks that he's a moderate Republican, that he's not a Santorum or a George W. Bush. In otherwords (and I guess they're mine) no horns or tail.

When DeSantis began to speak to the group, he emphasized that he was the candidate for change and that "something is going on" in the city - the people are looking for change. They want new leadership, he said. A new way of thinking about government. A new anything. When describing the relationship between a city's people and its government, he said one is a reflection of the other - but mid-sentence he corrected himself. Not this government, he said. He wouldn't describe what he thought of the current administration in city hall. "There are children present," he said.

If I had a beef with DeSantis, it was his misuse of the label for the party that's not his. Twice he used the phrase "Democrat mayor" in his brief history of city politics in the 20th ceentury. If he's looking to reach out across the political aisle, he's not going to make things any easier by using the wrong label. It's "Democrat-IC" for the modifyer, not "Democrat."

12th Annual Banned Books Reading!

Hmmm, one of these names looks familiar:

More info at

Post-Petraeus Poll Numbers

To listen to the local rightwing blowhards (ok, ok - maybe it's JUST Mike Pintek, I haven't done a complete survey of the field), you'd never know that large majorities of the American People, even after hearing General Petraeus testify before Congress, want the troops to come home and the war to end.

CBS: 68% of those polled would like to see U.S. troops reduced or removed entirely. 51% think the surge had "no impact." 63% think things are going "badly." When Bush describes the situation in Iraq, only a quarter, 24%, think he's being accurate in his description. A full 65% think he's making it sound "better" than it really is (for those keeping score at home, that means that the people think our great and glorious leader is spinning us on Iraq).

I could go on, but I have to go to work.

A Matter of Principle: A 2PJ Editorial

The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police should be congratulated on their out-of-the-box thinking and their adherence to higher principles

While local newspapers like the Post-Gazette and others continue to rag on the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police regarding officers with histories of domestic abuse, we here at 2 Political Junkies believe that it's high time for someone to stand up and defend the top brass in the department.

The P-G bemoans the bureau's "mostly hands-off policy" when it comes to police officers who are accused of domestic violence including those who have had petitions for protection-from-abuse orders (PFAs) taken out against them.

Apparently the P-G thinks that it's just fine and dandy for our own city to merely ape the behaviors of other police bureaus in some sort of blind allegiance to "best practices" completely discounting the fact that Pittsburgh is a unique city with its own distinctive customs and history.

The P-G cites so called "experts" who recommend "a range of approaches by departments, including temporarily putting alleged abusers on desk duty, taking away their guns or forbidding contact with their accusers."

They quote some guy from Newark who is "surprised" that our top brass aren't more "proactive" when it comes to handling officers accused of domestic violence.

But, we must ask what is wrong with reinventing the wheel?

Just because the International Association of Chiefs of Police says that police applicants and officers up for promotion should have a "clean record" with "no arrests, suspended sentences, diversion programs, convictions or protection from abuse orders related to child abuse, sexual assault, stalking or domestic violence" doesn't mean that we have to slavishly follow such a policy here in the good ol' Burgh.

What are we talking about anyway?

Bruises fade, broken bones mend, hair ripped out at the roots grows back.

Why would we want to handcuff our top brass and our mayor from being able to choose those officers who they obviously believe are the best suited for the job over officers who don't happen to have any history of, say, punching their teenage daughter in the stomach or breaking their wife's nose?

Let's be frank here: it would seem that there are those out their who are in favor of the pussification of our police.

If you call 911 don't you want to know that an officer will respond who is man enough to beat a woman or child down?

Don't you want junior officers to be able to know that it takes a real man to achieve a promotion within the department? Don't they need role models? Don't they need to understand that the top brass will change or break any silly rules about rank to promote officers out of order to get the very best men as lieutenants and commanders?

What about the principle of innocent until proven guilty? What exactly is the problem with swearing in a recruit last month who has already had two PFAs out against him? Don't all recruits have an absolute right to become police officers as long as they've never been actually convicted of an assault or murder? I mean, you wouldn't try to deny Britney Spears or Michael Jackson the right to baby-sit your kids when they've never been convicted of abuse in a court of law, would you? It's only small minds and conventional thinkers who have some sort of sick need to obsess over every little pimple and hiccup on an officer's record and deny them their right to walk around amongst the public with a loaded weapon.

And what about the so-called "victims?" We've seen time and again that when push comes to shove, these women and children will back down and drop charges against their loved ones when they are confronted with the power and might of the system, as well they should.

While we do not necessarily advocate punishing these women and children outright for their whining complaints, we do think that they could benefit by following the example of the following women in this hard hitting reality check of a fair and balanced news report on domestic violence:

Pittsburghers, please, ignore the nay-sayers.

Do not condemn our police chief and mayor to live in fear of being stalked by any past or future consent decrees or any questioning on their priorities and good judgment. They must remain free to operate on the principle that caving to women's and victims' rights groups and a biased MSM will only make them appear weak and womanly -- and that's not the sort of thing that we want from our leaders in a town "made of steel, made of stone".

Webb Update

As you've probably already seen, The Webb Amendment was killed by a threatened GOP filibuster. Proving again that our troops' best friends in the Senate is the GOP.

The vote was 56-44.

So what does this mean, exactly?

It means that we won't be "demeaning" our troops by getting them some realistic down time. TPMCafe has a transcript:

The reenlistment rates of those who have served in the theater are larger than those of any other. And, in fact, it is a testament to their courage, to their valor, and their sense of duty to their country. I think we would demean their service if we were to say to them that there had to be a parity between the time in service out of the country and the time at home. The goal ought to be for us not to have 15-month deployments. The hope would be that these would never be necessary. But the mandate from congress that this is how we must operate our armed forces I think is ill-conceived, it is dangerous and does not serve either the national interest of our nation nor the interest of the soldiers on the field whom it is intended to serve.

We should not have a subterfuge of policy to change direction in Iraq heaped on the back of our brave young men and women in uniform...

Greg Sargent sums it up for us:
The argument here appears to be that because the amount of service our troops have performed shows that they are heroic, it would hence "demean" them to reduce that amount of service by giving them longer rest time -- because it would deprive them of more time to be heroic.
As a consolation prize, Our Troops Best Friends (ie the GOP) offered up an alternate resolution. You can read it here.

Of course (and you know you saw this coming) Martinez voted FOR that amendment. Greg Sargent, again:
Just to savor this for a moment, consider that Martinez said above that it would "demean" the service of the troops to support Webb's measure, because we mustn't "say to them that there had to be a parity between the time in service out of the country and the time at home." But apparently it's okay to say this to them via the measure put forth by the GOP, as long as we're not voting for something that would actually make this happen.
Yep - the troops's best friends are in the GOP.

September 19, 2007

Off The Record VII - Blogged to Death

How's this for a blog-moment? A local blogger (me) posting a blog entry (the one you're reading right now) about a show ("Off The Record") put on by some local mainstream media types (the writer's guild and AFTRA) about a (fictional) local blogger.

Before I get into any details, here's the basic set-up for the shows themselves. Each year the writer's guild and the the local AFTRA folks put on a show for the Pittsburgh foodbank. It's a good cause. Perhaps the next "hands across the blogosphere" could point some cash in that direction. There's lotsa singing and dancing and they satirize some local politicians. The local politicians then get a chance to rebut.

Here's the website.

Mark, Bram, and Sue have all blogged on it, wondering about the title. Since I got a chance to see tonight's rehearsal and peruse the script for this year's show, I thought I'd take this opportunity to to clear up a few things.

As it's "off the record" there isn't a lot I can tell you right now - all I can say is, it's gonna be good. If you can scrape together the 20 bucks for the ticket, you'll be more than pleasantly surprised at what these folks can do. I do have to say that I was shocked shocked by something I saw tonight - Dennis Roddy has a beard! He looks like a shorter, younger, thinner, less grey (and certainly less suicidal) Ernest Hemmingway. With glasses. And a laptop.

We've all read by now that the title of this year's show is "Blogged to Death" and this has raised the question as to whether any of us bloggers will be satirized. I can't say much about what's in the show (you'll have to go see it for yourselves to find out) but I probably can say what isn't in it: me or even a fictionalized version of me. Or Maria. Or Bram. Or Sue. Or anyone from The Burgh Report or the Carbolic Smokeball. Neither Tunesmith nor Anthony. Or even Ole Froth. No Agent Ska. Or even Mark Rauterkus (sorry, Mark). And no one at all from the Women's Blogging Society. None of us.

The plot revolves around a guy who comes home from college and is faced with the ghost of his dead father who claims to have been murdered by his own brother, the college kid's uncle, who's since married the kid's mother. This ghost cries out for revenge and then the college guy--

No wait, I said I wasn't going to do that - sorry. Here's what gets satirized: local Pittsburgh politics. The singing is good, the satire is sharp and the story is easy to follow without a scorecard.

The show's next Thursday at 8. I'm gonna be there. We should all try to go. It's a good cause and it'll be a good opportunity to meet some old skool media types - and for them to meet us.

I just hope that if Jack Kelly's there, he won't be armed.

YDAC Membership Meeting Tonight

WHAT: Young Dems of Allegheny County Membership Meeting
WHEN: TODAY! Wednesday, September 19th, 6:30 PM
WHERE: Democratic Headquarters (810 River Ave, PGH, PA 15212

The Young Dems of Allegheny County are holding their monthly meeting at Allegheny Democratic Headquarters (810 River Ave, PGH, PA 15212) starting at 6:30.

Candidates and Elected Officials are encouraged to attend and new faces are really welcomed to join in.


As David mentioned here, I had some Internet problems (I said he should just write "Verizon sucks!" but he went with "computer/Internet challenges"). I took the advice of the 16th person I spoke with at Verizon trying to fix my DSL problem and now have Comcast -- yes, the Verizon employee admitted that I'd be better off switching to cable.

In the meantime, I caught a case of the cold/flu/monkey pox/plague going around and ended up in the emergency room but I'm back to blogging now.

Another Small Lie By The VEEP

(h/t to TPM)

This was from Tuesday:
Like most Americans, I admire the integrity and the candor that General Petraeus showed in his hearings before Congress. And the attacks on him by in ad space provided at subsidized rates in The New York Times last week were an outrage.
And this is what the Times said about the ad last Friday:
Catherine J. Mathis, a spokeswoman for The New York Times Company, said the advertising department does not base its rates on political content. She also said the department does not disclose the rates it charges for individual advertisements. But she did say that “similar types of ads are priced in the same way.” She said the department charges advocacy groups $64,575 for full-page, black-and-white advertisements that run on a “standby” basis, meaning an advertiser can request a specific day and placement but is not guaranteed them.
I heard Mike Pintek make the same false claim about the Times subsidising the ad. I wonder if he'll, you know, correct his error.

Yea, I doubt it too.

Anyway, considering the poll done by Fox News immediately after General Petraeus' testimony (the one that found only 35% of those polled found the General's report "truthful and objective") there's actually TWO lies in Cheney's paragraph. Look again, he started with:
Like most Americans, I admire the integrity and the candor that General Petraeus showed in his hearings before Congress.
Imagine that, Dick Cheney lying.

A Very Simple Amendment...

Give Arlen a call.

Arlen Specter (R-Pennsylvania)
DC: 202-224-4254
Harrisburg: (717) 782-3951

Here's some info about the amendment.

And the Amendment itself.

September 18, 2007

Greenspan Update

An astute (though he only claims to check the blog "from time to time") reader sent me a link to an MSNBC article under the subject heading "correction."

I'm not sure how much of a "correction" it really is, however.

For instance, in the video (about a minute in) Greenspan says some rather intruiging things. Matt Lauer first states that "liberal bloggers" are going nuts over one sentence in the 500 page book and says that those bloggers are saying it's proof that the administration lied. He then asks the former head of the FED of that was fair:

Greenspan: Utterly unfair. I was expressing my view. Saddam Hussein was obviously seeking to get a chokehold on the Straits of Hormuz where about 18 billion barrels a day flow from the Middle East to the Industrial world. Had he been able to get a hold of a nuclear weapon and indeed move through Kuwait and into Saudi Arabia and indeed control the Straits of Hormuz, it would have caused chaos in the international economy.
Lauer then asked if it was just a semantic question, pointing out that "the administration went to war saying it was all about Weapons of Mass Destruction"

Greenspan: I believe that they believe that. I'm not saying that they believed it was about oil. I'm saying it is about oil and that I believe it was necessary to get Saddam out of there.
It was all for stability of the region - a region full of oil. See? Not much of a correction.

Something, however, doesn't fit with his assessment about Saddam Hussein seeking control of the Straits of Hormuz. Reed Hundt over at TPMCafe pointed it out. First, take a look at a map. It's a little small, but I think it works. See that box in the lower right-hand corner? That's the Straits of Hormuz. See the little teeny tiny grey area in the upper left? Thats where Iraq begins.

Here's what Hundt had to say about Greenspan's geography:
So Iraq has no port or border on the Strait. Saddam had no naval capability of consequence after the first Gulf War. He had no air force. On the ground, he would have had to fight his way through a legion of enemies to approach the Strait from either side, and plainly would have been crushed. The U.S. Navy is invincible in those waters.

Tell me again how Saddam, hamstrung from the first Gulf War and a decade or so of sanctions would have been able to do it? March through Iran? March through Saudi Arabia?

Wait, wait - I know. He was going to give one of his nuclear weapons to Al-Qaeda and THEY were going to destroy the shipping lanes at the Strait of Hormuz.

Except we all know (and have known for a long time) that there were no nuclear weapons, no WMD, no ties to al-Qaeda.

And so it goes.

September 17, 2007

Greenspan: It's About The Oil

It's finally been said.

Former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan is quoted in the Washington Post:
I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.
He's also got a few choice words about DC at the time he left office. DC, in his words was:
harboring a dysfunctional government
And for the GOP:

Greenspan accuses the Republicans who presided over the party's majority in the House until last year of being too eager to tolerate excessive federal spending in exchange for political opportunity. The Republicans, he says, deserved to lose control of the Senate and House in last year's elections. "The Republicans in Congress lost their way," Greenspan writes. "They swapped principle for power. They ended up with neither."

He singles out J. Dennis Hastert, the Illinois Republican who was House speaker until January, and Tom DeLay, the Texan who was majority leader until he resigned after being indicted for violating campaign finance laws in his home state.

"House Speaker Hastert and House majority leader Tom DeLay seemed readily inclined to loosen the federal purse strings any time it might help add a few more seats to the Republican majority," he writes.

Then there's this from the NYTimes:
Mr. Greenspan also spelled out his own views about the war in Iraq: he supported the invasion, he says, not because Saddam Hussein might have had weapons of mass destruction, but because Saddam had shown a clear desire to capture the Middle East’s oil fields.
Oil - it was about the oil. And:

“I’m just very disappointed,” he said glumly, as he sat in his living room. “Smaller government, lower spending, lower taxes, less regulation — they had the resources to do it, they had the knowledge to do it, they had the political majorities to do it. And they didn’t.”

In the end, he said, “political control trumped policy, and they achieved neither political control nor policy.”

The war's about oil, Republican governance is "dysfunctional" and the Republicans were too eager to trade principle for power. Political control trumped policy.

And this guy's a REPUBLICAN!

September 16, 2007

Jack Kelly's Column

Yes, friends, it's Sunday. That means we get to further analyze the non-existent limits of Post-Gazette columnist Jack Kelly's political mendacity.

This week's column? General David Petraeus.

Let's set the rhetorical table with some numbers. Here's a sentence from J-Kel's fourth paragraph:
When asked in a New York Times/CBS poll who they trust the most on Iraq, 21 percent of respondents chose Congress. Sixty-eight percent chose the U.S. military.
Ok. Good. Let's take a look at that poll. Here's the coverage in the New York Times.

But take a look at the art the Times has included. Notice something? Notice something that J-Kel dutifully left out?

While "U.S. Military Commanders" scored much higher with 68% of those polled (and, by the way, note that the question is about successfully resolving the war not winning it) than Congress' weaker 21%, the Bush Administration scored an even lower with a measly 5%!

Tell me again, who's the Commander-in-Chief? Who's administration it is?

That's right, that would be George W. Bush and 4 times as many people trust Congress to resolve his war than trust his administration to do it.

Something I guess Jack Kelly decided not to tell his readers. He just decided to tell his readers the part that they trust the military a whole lot more than Congress.

That's what's called a "lie of omission." Just so you know.

Here's some more data from the poll Commando Kelly liked so much he opened his column with it:

In making its case for war in Iraq, do you think members of the Bush Administration intentionally misled the public? 60% said yes, 36% said no.

Again Jack, for some reason known only to him, decided not to tell his readers about that bit of information.

I wonder why.

Let's move onto Kelly's surge statistics. (Get it? Get the pun?? I know Dennis Roddy will.).

The situation in Iraq is much better now than it was before the troop surge began in January, Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker told the House on Monday and the Senate on Tuesday. Civilian deaths have declined by 45 percent since December; sectarian deaths by 55 percent. There were half as many car bombings and suicide attacks in August as there were in March.

But if you can't refute the message, you can slime the messenger. Democrats accused Gen. Petraeus of being a shill for the Bush administration.

And why would we think that General Petraeus is a "shill" for the Bush administration? Maybe because he was "hard wired" into Ed Gillespie's PR campaign? From the Washington Post:
Another new arrival in the West Wing set up a rapid-response PR unit hard-wired into Petraeus's shop. Ed Gillespie, the new presidential counselor, organized daily conference calls at 7:45 a.m. and again late in the afternoon between the White House, the Pentagon, the State Department, and the U.S. Embassy and military in Baghdad to map out ways of selling the surge.
Huh. Imagine that.

I want to take a closer look at that first paragraph. The second sentence, specifically. Where does that information come from? We know from the first sentence that General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker told Congress that the "situation in Iraq is much better." But what about the stuff that follows? Did Jack Kelly find an independent confirmation supporting what was told to Congress?

Well, no. Although he doesn't say so, Kelly is just continuing the quotation. From the CNN transcript:

Civilian deaths of all categories, less natural causes, have also declined considerably, by over 45 percent Iraq-wide since the height of the sectarian violence in December. This is shown by the top line on this chart. And the decline by some 70 percent in Baghdad is shown by the bottom line.

Periodic mass casualty attacks by al Qaeda have tragically added to the numbers outside Baghdad in particular. Even without the sensational attacks, however, the level of civilian deaths is clearly still too high and continues to be of serious concern.

As the next chart shows, the number of ethno-sectarian deaths, an important subset of the overall civilian casualty figures, has also declined significantly since the height of the sectarian violence in December. Iraq-wide, as shown by the top line on this chart, the number of ethno-sectarian deaths has come down by over 55 percent, and it would have come down much further were it not for the casualties inflicted by barbaric al Qaeda bombings attempting to reignite sectarian violence. [Emphasis added.]

Anyway, you can refute the message. And who's done that? Oh, lotsa folks. The GAO, the nation's Intelligence Community, the AP. Here's what Greg Bruno over at the Council on Foreign Relations had to say. After summarizing Petreaus' sunnier picture he wrote:

Independent reports published before Gen. Petraeus’ appearance on Capitol Hill paint a far bleaker picture than the military’s assessment. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) concluded in August 2007 the average number of daily attacks against “coalition, Iraqi security forces, and civilians” remained relatively static—at about 170—between October 2006 and July 2007, with a slight drop between June and July. An August 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) made a similar conclusion, without offering statistics. A third report on the readiness of Iraqi Security Forces concludes the country’s soldiers and police largely are incapable of protecting its citizens.

Nongovernmental analysis of civilian attacks and casualties has been even more critical; it also contradicts military numbers. An Associated Press analysis of civilian casualty statistics, published September 1, 2007, concluded “at least 1,809 civilians” were killed in August 2007, the second-highest monthly level in 2007. The AP, which based its analysis on Iraqi police reports, said 27,564 Iraqi civilians have been killed since April 2005, when the news service began collecting data. Iraq Body Count, a British group that monitors civilian deaths, has counted more than 71,000 civilian deaths from violence since 2003. The Economist says the civilian death toll “almost certainly exceeds 100,000.”[All links from the original - the Yahoo-AP link is dead here's the story from MSNBC]

Bruno, after looking to explain the discrepancy in numbers between Gen. Petreaus and the GAO (and according to Karen DeYoung in the Washington Post - the GAO's methology is also the CIA's and the DIA's), adds a few final expert opinions:
Rand Beers, a counterterrorism adviser to both Bush presidents and President Clinton, says he believes Gen. Petraeus has selectively focused on trends beginning in December 2006 to enhance the perception of military progress. Beers, who heads the Washington-based National Security Network, also suspects the military of inflating pre-December 2006 violence numbers to paint its surge efforts in a more positive light. Lawrence J. Korb, a former senior Pentagon official in the Reagan administration, is equally skeptical: “It’s a selective use of statistics to buttress his case,” Korb says.
See? It is possible to refute (or at least question) the numbers. And from real live National Security correspondents, too.

I'm sorry - was that last bit a little too snarky? I apologize if I hurt Jack Kelly's feelings by backhandedly reminding everyone that he's no longer the P-G's "National Security" Correspondent. Nowadays, he's just a run-of-the-mill wingnut.

Anyway, back to his column. J-Kel next tackles the ad.

Let me point just out that a poll by Fox "News" (Slogan: "It's from Fox News, so you know it's Right.") done after General Petreaus testified showed that only 35% of the American people thought he was being "truthful and objective" in his testimony. 40% (and that's more than 35%) thought he was "slanted towards the Administration."

Check it out here. It's question 51.

It's more or less what the rather snarky Moveon ad was saying.

So the question about the ad was?

September 14, 2007

Boehner's "Small Price" - A Follow-up

If you need to refresh your memory, go here.

Yesterday, Congressman Boehner tried to weasel out of things - by spinning and misleading, of course. Here's what can be found in The Politico's Crypt (h/t to Think Progress) where they got a comment from Kevin Smith, Boehner's Communications Director:

Wolf asked about the money spent in Iraq, and that’s what Mr. Boehner was referring to when he said our troops’ efforts are critical for the safety and security of our country. To attempt to put a dollar figure on what we are doing in Iraq does a disservice to the work our troops are doing to make our children and theirs safer.

Smith added: There isn’t a Member of Congress who appreciates the sacrifices of our troops more than Mr. Boehner. In fact, the reason he visited Iraq was to thank our troops for their service on behalf of our country and take a firsthand look at the progress on the ground that Democrats are so desperate to ignore. He had lunch with troops from Ohio today. Mr. Boehner is doing everything he can to ensure our troops come home after victory, not defeat, and General Petraeus has outlined a responsible strategy to do just that.

But we need to take a look at exactly what Wolf Blitzer asked the Congressman. Here it is again:
Mr. Leader, here is the question. How much longer will U.S. taxpayers have to shell out $2 billion a week or $3 billion a week as some now are suggesting the cost is going to endure, the loss and blood the Americans who are killed every month, how much longer do you think this commitment, this military commitment, is going to require?" [emphasis added]
Blitzer, at the very least, was not asking about just the money spent, but also about the number of American servicemen killed or wounded. The fact that Boehner is now trying to ignore that part of the question qualifies as a major spin.

So far there's been little coverage from the MSM (even CNN). At least it's not a botched joke from John Kerry - now that would have been news! Karen Tumulty at Time, after quoting Senator John McCain excusing Boehner's comment as a "he misspoke" moment, says:
Meanwhile, over at Think Progress, they have Boehner's response to the criticism he is getting, as well as the full question he was asked. Looking at the transcript, it appears this is one where it's going to be hard to take a mulligan.
For those who don't play golf, a "mulligan" is a "do-over."

Some other reactions.

DNC Chair Howard Dean:
House Republican Leader John Boehner’s comments yesterday are deplorable and he should apologize immediately. Our brave men and women who have given their lives in service to our country and their families have made the ultimate sacrifice, and to say anything less is insulting to their memories and service. Republicans stubbornly refuse to acknowledge that their Iraq policy is a failure, our troops are mired in a civil war and we’re not making the necessary political progress on the ground. Bohener’s comments show how truly out of touch the Republicans are. The loss of a son or daughter is never a small price to pay, especially for a policy which was initiated by Republicans who misled the nation about why we are there. The war in Iraq must end. We need to bring our troops home.
Senator John Kerry:

What a stunningly cavalier statement about the lives of the young men and women who serve our country.

Whether you support or oppose the Bush escalation, no American should ever for even a moment think the cost of war is small.

A single life is a large price to pay for any endeavor. Sometimes, in our national interest, we choose to pay that awful price, but we must always make sure that the policy is worthy of it.

Visit our wounded warriors at Walter Reed hospital and ask whether the price they paid was small. Talk to the mothers, fathers, husbands and wives of those who have been killed and ask them to measure the price of war. Young lives stopped short, children who won't have a mother or father there as they grow up, when they graduate, when they get married -- that loss is many things, but it is not small.
Where is Representative Boehner's apology? And where is an Iraq policy equal to our soldiers' tremedous sacrifice?

We already have a reaction from Boehner's office. No apology is necessary because he's trying the best he can to spin his way out from under his reprehensible statement. Why take responsibility (and apologise) when you can just spin it away? That's how things work for Washington DC Republicans.

Any other reactions from any other Democrats?

Perhaps they should grow a spine and speak up.