Democracy Has Prevailed.

October 31, 2007


That would be the day after Halloween:

Gabrielle Bonesso, John McIntire, Gene Collier
8:00 PM, Thursday, November 1st
The Pittsburgh Improv at the Waterfront
166 East Bridge Street, The Stacks at the Waterfront Homestead, PA 15120 412-462-5233
Tickets $10 CHEAP!

Council votes two week hold on Bill No. 2007-1797 (Police & Domestic Violence)

Shields, Peduto and Koch voted NO on the hold.

Once again, City Council gives Mayor Opie Ravenstahl what he wants: hold this off until after the election.

Still no written policy from the Police (they assure us Council will see something "in a week").

We've been waiting for action since June.

No Halloween jokes here -- just disgust.

Scary if you're an Iraqi!

The surge ethnic cleansing is working!

Joe Christoff of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) said yesterday that a reduction of violence in Iraq should be taken with a grain of salt as it coincides with an increase there in ethnic cleansing, as well as massive numbers of Iraqis fleeing their country.

More here.

Tricks and Treats

Hey! There's some blogger chick out there named PittGirl. The Post-Gazette interviews her here.

Hey! There's other female bloggers in the Burgh too. You can read about them in another Post-Gazette article here.

The links in the above mentioned article to Ms. Adventures on the Mon and to some blog called 2 Political Junkies do not work.

No hits for you!

Lukey goes trick-or-treatin'

Rob Rogers
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
Oct 31, 2007

Halloween Edition

1) I know it must be Halloween because I received something in my mailbox designed to curl my hair (too late -- already done) and cover me in goosebumps. Yes, I got the most recent Ravenstahl mailer -- the one that has the big picture of GW on it beside a photo of Mark DeSantis. On the back it reads: "Say no to George W. Bush, Say no to Republican Mark DeSantis." OHMYGOD, Karl Rove will appear under my bed at midnight on election day if I vote for DeSantis! SAVE US ALL!!!!

2) FEMA is looking into Lil Mayor Luke's joyriding in a Homeland Security SUV. Very scary . . . for Lukey!


3) Looks like Interim Mayor Luke Ravenstahl may get his wish and have a vote on City Council Bill No. 2007-1797 (Police and Domestic violence) postponed until after the election.

It's no secret that Ravenstahl does not support this bill or that the FOP opposes it and has LIED about what passage of it will do. They are claiming that Council does not have the authority to pass it (BULL!) and that that commanders who accidentally violated an ordinance could be subject to criminal charges (MORE BULL).

What I find more frightening is that only Doug Shields and Bill Peduto (the two cosponsors) have so far come out in favor of the bill (though Twanda Carlisle may be leaning in its favor).

If you haven't yet, email your councilor RIGHT NOW and ask them to support Bill No. 2007-1797 and the four amendments.

The police cannot and should not police themselves as they want.

(Also, check out Behind the Blue Wall a blog that tracks domestic violence issues with police nationally.)

UPDATE: Click here for something m,ore fun than scary.

October 30, 2007

Looks like we were more right that we knew...

Looks like this little joke that we posted back in April was closer to the truth than we knew:

Councilwoman Carlisle and
Mom in matching red coats paid
for by taxpayers' dollars.**

**OK, we can't guarantee that, but
hell, the chances are pretty good.

We just got which coat wrong.

Motznik Chastises the Post-Gazette

Pittsburgh City Councilman Jim Motznik railed against the Post-Gazette's endorsement of Republican Mark DeSantis during today's City Council meeting.

He bemoaned what he said was a less than factual endorsement. His complaint centered on this one sentence in the P-G:

Instead of privatizing a service like trash collection, he extends it to Wilkinsburg -- not because it saves Pittsburgh money but because it's created a few more city jobs while helping a municipal neighbor.
Motznik said the move actually saved the city $815,000.00 a year and that it also took 30 garbage trucks off the streets (Council President Doug Shields chimed in saying it actually saved the city over a million a year).

He also said the following:

" doesn't matter to me who they endorse for mayor." (Yeah, right)

"I'm frustrated at the crap that a newspaper I used to think was credible would print." (You mean when they printed your bogus claim that Ravenstahl created the 311 line?)

"Don't they have a board of directors that reviews their stories to make sure they are accurate?" (Uh, Jimmy, that wouldn't be the job of a board of directors.)

"Why isn't the editor reading this stuff?" (Uh, Jimmy, it's the editors who WRITE the editorials.)

"Why isn't the editorial board reading it?" (See above.)

"I'm not here to tell you to vote for Luke Ravenstahl." (Well, yeah, you kind of are.)
He also compared the Post-Gazette to AM talk radio and said that the people of Pittsburgh weren't as dumb as the media thinks they are.

In case you're reading this, Councilman Motznik, I don't automatically assume that privatization is a good thing and even if you're correct on any monies saved (and I don't know that you are), you're only addressing one line in the P-G's endorsement.

You can take your yellow boots off again because, as you say, the people of Pittsburgh aren't as dumb as someone may think we are.

Two Bizarre Phone Calls

I got two weird calls this morning.

The first was a message on my machine. I'm used to Jehovah Witnesses occasionally coming to my door, now they're leaving messages on my phone inviting me to meetings.

The second call I picked up live. It was a recorded message that purported to be a poll. It went something like this:

We have a mayors race. If you are going to vote for Ravenstahl press 1, DeSantis press 2, Olivia press 3, Scott press 4, if you want to keep your choice private press 5. There's also a controllers race. If you're for Lamb press 6, etc.
OK, When the message began, I was excited. Maybe someone was conducting an independent poll!

But as the message continued I thought it odd that they didn't indicate who was conducting the poll. Lots of times polls do not indicate who's paying for the poll, but they at least give the name of a market research outfit.

I really started to wonder when the "poll" seemingly wouldn't let you vote for both mayor and controller -- what's up with that?

There was no pause to vote for mayor before controller and at the end it said to press zero to leave your email address if you wanted the results of the poll.

At some point in listening to the message, I thought that it sounded a bit like Mark Rauterkus.

I pressed 2 for DeSantis at the end of the message but that didn't allow me to also press o.

Was it you, Mark?

I don't really know how the poll could even be functional.


October 28, 2007

To My Friends

I'll be off-line for a while.

My dad's health has gotten progressively worse in recent days and the family decided it would be good for him if we were all together at this time.

Needless to say, blogging here at 2PJ will be taking a back seat to other more important matters.


Jack Kelly Sunday

It's Sunday and so as true as the moon follows the sun across the sky, there's a column by Jack Kelly in today's P-G.

Not much in there except he calls 19% of Democrats traitors - I think. He's not the usual clear concise Kelly we've grown to know and love.

But he's spinning, nonetheless.

He begins with one famous American traitor, Benedict Arnold, and ends with a less famous one, Major General Charles Lee. On Arnold, J-Kel mentions the Battle of Saratoga (and Arnold's heroics there) and the 20,000 pounds sterling offered for a bribe, but never gets around to mentioning West Point or the date this all happened.

And as we know with Jack, it's all about what he says and what he doesn't say.

Next he gives us some details on Lee:

Once an officer in the British army, Lee was the second ranking general in the Continental Army after Washington. He was captured by the British in December 1776 after carelessly dallying at an inn. His captors offered him a choice. He could be sent to Britain to be hanged as a traitor, or he could turn his coat. Lee (understandably) chose collaboration.

Lee's task (after he had been exchanged for a British general captured in Rhode Island) was to keep Washington from attacking the British when they retreated from Philadelphia. The British had been weakened by the detachment of a large number of troops to guard the West Indies from the French, and were saddled with 3,000 loyalist refugees. They were very vulnerable.

Lee first argued against an attack on the British, and when Washington insisted on a scaled down one, demanded that he rather than Lafayette lead it. He kept the best units under his command from participating in the battle, and his confusing orders would have led to a rout had not Washington arrived on the scene in time to stem it. But a great opportunity was lost.

This was the battle of Monmouth, June 28, 1778. Lee is actually Court-Martial for failing to follow Washington's orders, by the way. He said the Revolutionary War could have been won in 1778 were it not for Lee's treason.

But what of Arnold's treason? He offered to switch sides for the 20,000 pounds sterling and a commission in the British Army. He was commander at West Point at the time and that fort was part of the deal. Had he succeeded and handed over West Point, the colonies could have been sliced in two.

The plot was discovered and Arnold escaped to the British side. He only recieved 6,000 pounds sterling, but did get the military commission. He died, in England, in 1801.

But this was late summer of 1780. Two years AFTER the battle of Monmouth. And a little more than a year before Cornwallis' surrender at Yorktown.

So if Lee's treachery didn't happen, Arnold's probably wouldn't have either.

I'm just not sure what all this has to do with the war in Iraq. Here's how Jack frosts the cake at the end of his column on those two American traitors:
Those were complex times, as now, and those 19 percent of Democrats who said in a recent poll that the world would be better off if the United States loses in Iraq ought not to judge Arnold or Lee too harshly.
Is he saying that those 19% are traitors? I think so.

But let's take a closer look at the poll, shall we? It's described in this story from Fox "News."

Nearly one out of every five Democrats thinks the world will be better off if America loses the war in Iraq, according to the FOX News Opinion Dynamics Poll released Thursday.

The percentage of Democrats (19 percent) who believe that is nearly four times the number of Republicans (5 percent) who gave the same answer. Seven percent of independents said the world would be better off if the U.S. lost the war.

Again, with Jack Kelly it's what he doesn't say that's almost always as important as what he does say. The next paragraph of the article (and this one carefully ignored) says this:
Overall, 11 percent of Americans think the world would be "better off" if the U.S. lost the war, and 73 percent disagree.
Gee, I wonder why Jack didn't say that one-out-of-ten Americans think the world would be better off if "the U.S. lost the war."

Doesn't fit the larger point he's trying to make: being against the war is committing treason and Democrats are the ones committing treason, just like Arnold and Lee.

No mention, of course of the other results from that poll. 62% of Democrats (that's a little more than 3 times the 19% Jack mentioned) think that the world wouldn't be a better place if the US "lost" the war. Nor does he mention the 5% of Republicans who also think the world would be a better place if the US "lost" the war.

I put the word in quotation marks because I am unsure how different "losing" would look to what's going on now.

All-in-all, not one of Jack's better columns.

Comes a new dawn

Well, the Post-Gazette has endorsed a Republican for mayor for Pittsburgh and . . .
. . . the sun still rose,

the three rivers have not turned to blood,

and there is no rioting in the streets . . . yet . . .

And That Makes Two: The Trib Endorses DeSantis


It's an odd little endorsement. It begins with a nightmare of sorts:

Mark DeSantis could be the next mayor of Pittsburgh. But for all the wrong reasons.

A growing number of Democrats fear Mayor Luke Ravenstahl is a liability. They might try to swing the Nov. 6 election to the Republican challenger, letting him serve the remaining two years of the late Mayor Bob O'Connor's term. After all, there's nothing worse than allowing an immature and lightning-attracting accidental mayor to expand his power base by being elected in his own right.

Democrats could tolerate a brief GOP mayoral tenure. With their lock on City Council, Mr. DeSantis couldn't do much "damage." Back the political novitiate, hamstring and discredit him, then plan for a Democrat mayoral coronation in 2009. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Has anyone else heard of this plan? I must've missed the talking points that day. Does anyone out there know anyone who actually believes that? The Trib editorial board quickly gets onto the rest of the endorsement:
But we think Mark DeSantis should be elected for all the right reasons. His sound policy prescriptions. His understanding of basic economics. His forthright nature. His integrity. His understanding of "public service" and his fealty to restoring its true meaning.
Note the phrase "forthright nature." And although they misuse, I think, the term "positivism" in the next paragraph, by the end of the editorial they "heartily" endorse Mr DeSantis. In a press release, DeSantis is quoted as saying:
I am very honored to receive the endorsement of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. I am pleased to see that the Trib's editorial board believes in my vision for a new Pittsburgh. The endorsements of both the Tribune-Review and Post-Gazette are indications of the growing momentum of my campaign.
It's weird, both papers agreeing on something political?

Post-Gazette DeSantis Endorsement Is Online

Here's the link:

It not only says what is wrong with interim Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, it says what is right with challenger Mark DeSantis.

The editorial starts:

Pittsburghers are living in a unique time. There has never been an election for mayor in which the incumbent has served for 14 months, in which the winner will get only two years and where the future of the city, now under strict oversight from the state, hangs in the balance.

Unusual times call for more than the usual leadership. For Pittsburghers on Nov. 6, that means voting for Mark DeSantis, the first Republican the Post-Gazette has endorsed for mayor since John Tabor in 1969.

Why should a city dominated by Democrats consider a Republican for mayor? Because one-party rule has failed Pittsburgh and failed it repeatedly. It has failed to prevent population loss and business erosion. It has failed to head off the city's near-bankruptcy and job loss. It has failed to generate the big ideas that should be propelling Pittsburgh into the 21st century.

It ends by reminding their readers -- the voters -- that only they have the power to enact real change.

October 27, 2007

Post-Gazette Endorses DeSantis

I just got an e-mail from the DeSantis folks. It reads, in part:

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette announced today that they have endorsed Mark DeSantis. The editorial board said this about the election and Mr. DeSantis, "It's a campaign about who can muster the vision and leadership to modernize city government." The editorial board compared Mr. DeSantis to the other candidates stating, "None of them holds the promise of Mark DeSantis." "One thing we do know is the Republican, this year, can win."

When I contacted the campaign press for a confirmation, Meghan Jones, the campaign's press secretary, informed me that the endorsement is actually in Sunday's paper (on page G2, I think she said.)

The press release goes on to quote Mr DeSantis:
I am humbled by the Post-Gazette Editorial Board's endorsement. I believe Pittsburgh residents want a change and the Post-Gazette's column reflects the thoughts and feelings of the voters in this city that want a positive change.
Seeing that Maria, the OPJ, has already published her intentions to vote for DeSantis, it's nice to know that the P-G is following her lead.

October 26, 2007

Giuliani: "It depends on who does it."

Republican presidential candidate and 9/11 opportunist Rudy Giuliani said of the torture technique known as water-boarding:

Mr. Giuliani responded: “Okay. First of all, I don’t believe the attorney general designate in any way was unclear on torture. I think Democrats said that; I don’t think he was.”

Ms. Gustitus said: “He said he didn’t know if waterboarding is torture.”

Mr. Giuliani said: “Well, I’m not sure it is either. I’m not sure it is either. It depends on how it’s done. It depends on the circumstances. It depends on who does it.
Video at Crooks and Liars.

Republican candidate Benito Giuliani
brushing up on his goose-step.

Thus Speaketh Lil Mayor Luke

"I'll Win" Thus Speaketh Lil Mayor Luke in the Post-Gazette.

Aside from announcing that he'll win, Lukey is seemingly happy with only, maybe getting "up to $4.2 million in each of the next three years" from such behemoth nonprofits as UPMC. That would be the very same UPMC who paid $9,000.00 to allow Ravenstahl to do what he does best: golf with celebs.

He also says of city-county consolidation:
"I have not said 'no' to that but I have not had any blueprint put in front of me that makes sense. It just doesn't," he said.
Here, I had the exact same reaction as Bram:
You are waiting for someone to hand you a "blueprint?" How about putting together a plan of your own?

October 25, 2007

First on Google

Saw this over at Shakesville:
"[T]he premise is that you will attempt to find 5 statements, which if you were to type into google (preferably, but we'll take the other country specific ones if need be), you'll find that you are returned with your blog as the number one hit."
So here's ours:
1. Absolut Corruption / Absolute Corruption
2. 2 Political Junkies / two political junkies
3. Lil Mayor Luke
4. Lil Ricky Santorum
5. Jack Kelly gets spanked
Also coming up #1:

"Ruth Ann Dailey spins" / "Ruth Ann Dailey boots" ("Boots" one comes up #1 for 2pj and #2 for Honsberger is a Liar. HA!)

Sadly, we only come in fourth for the phrase "Ron Paul Sucks."

Mayor Ravenstahl blames women's groups for delays in action on a domestic-violence police policy

Good Lord! Once again, it isn't Lukey's fault -- it's "been taken out of his hands."

From this week's City Paper:

And critics, certainly, are frustrated by that defense. It is similar to Ravenstahl's explanation earlier this year for why he promoted three police officers who had faced allegations of domestic abuse. The allegations against one officer, then-sergeant George Trosky, were well publicized, and Ravenstahl says he promoted Troksy anyway, based on his overall service. "The other two were issues I was unaware of until afterwards, and I certainly regret that I was unaware of them."

So far, he says, resolving the issue has also been taken out of his hands. In June, Ravenstahl met with anti-abuse advocates and pledged to work with them on a zero-tolerance policy. But while the city has instituted a citywide background check for new hires and promotions, a comprehensive policy has not been released -- because, Ravenstahl says, women's groups haven't met with him since.

"I've been frustrated that our initial meeting [with anti-abuse activists] has never been followed up on," he says. While another meeting is slated the week this issue hits the stands -- and anti-abuse legislation is being debated in city council -- Ravenstahl says activists have "chosen to take the public forum more so than the private one, through city council post-agendas and public hearings. And as a result of those public conversations, we haven't been able to meet privately." The hearings and debates, he says, have "slowed the process down unnecessarily."

"It's been up to the mayor's office to give us scheduling," counters Jeanne Clark, a member of the National Organization of Women who has been among the loudest voices calling for reform. "I can tell you that a member of the mayor's staff directly requested that any public action on this be delayed until after the election, and everyone involved refused. I think the mayor needs to look into the mirror for the scheduling problems."
Chris Potter even posts an audio clip of Mayor Luke Ravenstahl's remarks on this issue.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Lukey originally meet only with women who he had appointed?

Then he was a no show for a City Council public meeting on the issue of his promotions of three police officers with histories of domestic abuse.

And, why did he not show up?

Because he was too busy rubbing shoulders at a $9,000.00 golf outing on UPMC's dime!

He even tried to claim that mayors never attend public hearings in City Council chambers until he was caught red-handed by a video clip of himself as a Councilman bitching about then Mayor Murphy's nonattendance at a public hearing.

He admits in the audio clip that it isn't like he's tried to contact the women's groups and they wouldn't take his calls.

Nope, Lil Mayor Luke just wanted it all hush-hushed until after the election.

And, some folks still question why I'm voting for Republican Mark DeSantis?!?

(Yes, I am quoted liberally throughout this City Paper article. Fire away!)

An afternoon with Barney Frank!







From the Steel City Stonewall Democrats:

October 24, 2007

Dear Friends,

Steel-City Stonewall Democrats and Congressman Mike Doyle would like to invite you to a Special Event with Representative Barney Frank of the 4th Congressional District of Massachusetts.

This is a casual meet and greet event with the Founder of the Stonewall Democrats, Rep. Barney Frank.

Please join us at the home of Christine Donohue* on Saturday, November 3, 2007 beginning at 3:00 p.m.

Event Details:
When: November 3, 2007
Time: 3:00 p.m.
Cost: Free and open to the public, Light refreshments will be served
Address: 6568 Fifth Avenue, Pittsburgh, 15206, at the corner of Fifth & Beechwood
Parking: Best option is parking along Beechwood

We look forward to seeing you on Saturday, November 3, 2007 at 3:00 pm.

*Christine Donohue is a candidate for the Superior Court of Pennsylvania and has graciously offered to lend her home for this event!

Sierra Club has posted mayoral candidates' responses to questionnaire 

You can see the questions and answers that our local Sierra Club asked Luke Ravenstahl and Mark DeSantis here (scroll down the page).

The Sierra Club is one of the oldest, largest and most influential environmental groups in the nation. It lobbies legislatures on behalf of the environment and helps to educate the public.

Political Petition Taken Down at Police Headquarters

According to a WTAE TV news report this morning (no link yet) Police Chief Nate Harper had a petition taken down in Police headquarters which supported interim Mayor Luke Ravenstahl and disagreed with the FOP's endorsement of rival Mark DeSantis. (Early Returns noted that the city's Ethics Handbook states that all "city employees are prohibited from engaging in political activity during work hours and at all times in City offices.")

The petition had five signatures on it.

Impressive! [/snark]

October 24, 2007

Lil Ricky's Back!

Editor and Publisher has the story.

A press conference was held at 1:30 this afternoon at the Philadelphia Inquirer to announce that it has added former Sen. Rick Santorum to its stable of columnists.

Also hired is George Curry, the former editor of Emerge magazine. They will alternate the weekly Thursday spot. Santorium's column will be called "The Elephant in the Room." He said it would not focus all that much on politics.

Looks like I know what I'll be doing every other Thursday.

Rick "Man-on-dog" Santorum is back!

Two Big Issues Before Pgh City Council

First up: Back to the issue of city police and domestic violence.

We published a copy of City Council President Doug Shields' bill (No. 2007-1797) on this issue here. Councilman Bill Peduto has been added as a sponsor of that bill, but he's also introduced amendments to it. Gloria Forouzan outlined the changes here as follows:

"...compel the Police Bureau to refer all allegations of domestic violence by officers to the independent Citizen Police Review Board."

" the hiring or promotion of anyone subject to a PFA or criminal domestic violence investigation. "

"...force officers who are subjects of criminal domestic violence investigations or protection from abuse orders to "surrender all firearms, including their primary service weapon, immediately"
While the FOP has argued of the last measure that it "would be tantamount to taking away an officer's livelihood based on a mere accusation" it must be noted that this policy is 1) considered standard practice by the International Association of Chiefs of Police and the U.S. Military and 2) that an intimate partner must convince a judge that there is a threat of eminent danger before a PFA is issued (far from the accusation at the October 18th public hearing that cops will lose their guns over "shouting matches").

Also as was mentioned by Jeanne Clark (Squirrel Hill Now) at that public hearing, it has been 114 days (on 10/18/07) since the Mayor and Police Chief had promoted three officers with histories of domestic abuse and not one concrete step has yet to be taken. She also held up a brochure released by the Mayor's Office on DV that appeared to be printed on an inkjet printer and she said was not widely distributed. She compared it to the large-format, four-color, professionally-printed Redd Up brochure (I will note here that, tellingly, the DV brochure was not plastered with Luke's images).

What also came out at that public hearing was that the police response was to give verbal accounts of new policy changes -- nothing in writing still at this late date!

An initial vote on the bill (and amendments) will be held on Wednesday, October 31st.

(Previous posts on this issue here.)

Second Issue: Gender Equity

City Council President Doug Shields introduced a bill today (No. 2007-1845) that would approve the release of a Request for Proposal (RFP) from the city for a "A Comprehensive Study of Positions within Pittsburgh City Government" (see draft version here and a previous post by Dayvoe on this here).

As stated in the RFP's introduction, the purpose of the study is "to include a focus on the general soundness of the current system and whether the system affords internal fairness and equity, without gender or other bias."

Both Barbara L. Trant, Director of Personnel & Civil Service Commission for the City, and Heather Arnet, Executive Director of the Women and Girls Foundation, spoke to Pittsburgh City Council today about the study.

It must be said that both Councilman Bodack and Councilman Motznik initially expressed doubts about the need for such a study with Bodack saying that he thought that the city's hiring and promotions system allowed "no room to exist" for gender inequities and Motznik saying that he wasn't ware of any problems.

Ms. Arnet said that it was an "economic development" issue as a majority of college graduates are women and that demonstrating that Pittsburgh cares about gender equity in pay is a plus for keeping and attracting female professionals.

Some interesting (or nauseating) facts came out during the discussion:

Nationally, women make 81 cents to the dollar as compared to males. Statewide it's 73 cents while it's only 70 cents in the city of Pittsburgh.

There are 3,440 city employees but, only 923 are female.
Councilwoman Twanda Carlisle was blown away by the last figure and offered to help in any way she could in her last months on Council.

Councilwoman Tonya Payne predicted that the study would also show a big disparity in terms of race regarding both hirings and salaries of City employees.

An initial vote on this bill will also be held on Wednesday, October 31st.

Now here's where YOU come in:

Please lobby City Council on both bills and the Mayor's office on Bill No. 2007-1797.

Again, I turn to one of Gloria's posts at The Pittsburgh Women's Blogging Society, this time for contact info:

Mayor's Office
Phone: 412-255-2626, Fax: 412-255-2687

Len Bodack, Jr. , Telephone: 412-255-2140, Fax: 412-255-2419

Twanda Carlisle , Telephone: 412-255-2137, Fax: 412-255-8658

Dan Deasy , Telephone: 412-255-8963, Fax: 412-255-2821

Darlene Harris , Telephone: 412-255-2135, Fax: 412-255-2129

Jeff Koch , Telephone: 412-255-2130, Fax: 412-255-8950

Jim Motznik , Telephone: 412-255-2131, Fax: 412-255-2821

Tonya Payne , Telephone: 412-255-2134, Fax: 412-255-2821

Bill Peduto , Telephone: 412-255-2133, Fax: 412-255-2821

Doug Shields , Phone: 412-255-8965, Fax: 412-255-2821
You can also join others in lobbying Council members in person on both pieces of legislation on Tuesday, October 30th at City Council at 9:00 AM.

UPDATE: Post-Gazette article: "Dispute over police with PFAs heats up"

We hear tell that in today's City Paper the Mayor more or less blames foot-dragging on the DV issue on the women themselves. We'll be picking up our copy soon.

If you haven't yet...

Head on over to Macyapper to read his RAVEnstahl piece from yesterday (and see the great graphic -- Let Opie be Opie!).

I have to agree with John that the Dennis Regan/Commander McNeilly mess was one of Mayor Ravenstahl's biggest blunders, if not the biggest blunder, and it's too often left off the list of Luke's mistakes.

P-G Coverage!

The OPJ (and for those of you who don't know, that means "Other Political Junkie") dropped this link in the comment section of a previous blog post, but it's too good not to be brought to the surface here.

Get a gander at the "Early Returns" page at the P-G. Then scroll down to the section titled "Media Relations."

Hello to all who visit here from the Post-Gazette website!

A New Wrinkle about Plame

I stumbled across this at TPMCafe yesterday.

Larry Johnson, the author, has worked for the CIA and for the State Department's Office of the Coordinator for Counter Terrorism. So I think he probably knows what he's talking about.

He writes:

In 2004 the FBI received intelligence that Al Qaeda hit teams were enroute to the United States to kill Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and Valerie Plame. The FBI informed Valerie of this threat. This was just more “good” news piled on the fact that her intelligence career was in shambles, that intelligence assets she had recruited/managed were destroyed, and that she was unable to rebut publicly false and malicious smears of her character and reputation by a bunch of partisan Republican hacks. As the mother of two pre-school children, her first thoughts were about protecting her kids. She took the threat seriously and asked for help.
When the White House learned of these threats they sprung into action. They beefed up Secret Service protection for Vice President Cheney and provided security protection to Karl Rove. But they declined to do anything for Valerie. That was a CIA problem.

Valerie contacted the office of Security at CIA and requested assistance. They told her too fucking bad and to go pound sand. They did not use those exact words, but they told her she was on her own.

Nice folks over there in the Bush Administration, huh? George Tenet doesn't come off any nicer. Larry Johnson, again:
[Tenet] refused to come to the aid of one of his CIA officers who faced a specific death threat. In fact, Georgie boy never once reached out to Valerie to provide any comfort or encouragement. He wanted to stay on good terms with the White House so he effectively cut her loose.
Nice guys over there. Not only do they initiate a policy resulting in the deaths of nearly 4,000 American servicemen and women, not only do they uncover the identity of a CIA operative (in violation of the law) who's the wife of a critic of that policy, they do nothing for her safety when receiving intelligence that her life may be in danger.

October 23, 2007

WAPO Snarks on Scaife

My sister Betty (who works in DC) sent me a link yesterday to the snarkalicious Washington Post article on the "surpassingly vicious spectacle that is the divorce of Richard Mellon Scaife."

While a few blogs have already linked to it yesterday, there's a couple of things I thought worth noting:
1) If you only read the article, go back right now and view the equally snarky video they've posted.

2) While seeming to leave no gory detail out, the article actually sanitizes one bit. It says of Scaife, "He almost never speaks to the media, and on one of the few occasions he did, it was to tell a reporter, who'd sandbagged him on the street, that she was ugly and that her mother was ugly, too."

What WAPO left out was that he also told her, "You fucking Communist cunt, get out of here."

We don't actually have to claim this guy as our own, do we?
Oh, and Betty, no, you should not expect to receive $1,800.00 asparagus tongs for Christmas.

October 22, 2007

Here's The Story

Earlier this week, I received a "Press Advisory" e-mail from the DeSantis campaign (it was a blanket e-mail, I assume, sent out to their complete list of media types) announcing the mayoral debate tonight. In the e-mail was a sentence that said "All press are welcome" to attend.

On a lark, I e-mailed back and asked whether I, a lowly blogger, qualified as "press." I was hoping the answer was in the affirmative, but I wouldn't have been surprised if it was a stern and parental no. After all, they ("the press") get paid to write about this stuff. I don't.

After checking with WTAE, they got back to me saying the answer was yes, I could attend the debate. I'd be sitting in a room next to the studio with the other members of the press who weren't participating in the debate.

This, in fact, is that room.

That enormous grey door on the left side of the picture led into the studio. I got to sit next to Dan Majors (of the P-G) and David Browne (of the Trib).

To make a long story short, after the debate we "press" folks went through the big doors to ask the candidates any follow up questions we might have. A LOT of them were about the Mayor's charge that DeSantis had "sold the city down the river" for the FOP endorsement.

I had two questions for the candidates. They were:

  1. Is there anything that hadn't been raised in the debate that you wanted to mention?
  2. How do you think you did?

I know, they're not the greatest questions, but I thought they were fair and reasonable if a bit tepid. But I figured I was on someone else's turf (WTAE's) and I didn't want to do anything that would make the rest of us look bad.

I asked Mr DeSantis first. And to be honest, he gave a rather pat answer. There wasn't anything that wasn't in the debate that he needed to bring up, he said, and he thought he did OK, though it's the people who will be deciding on how well he did.

Then I made my way over to the Mayor. He was finishing a round of questions from (I think) David Highfield (of KDKA) on whether there was anything he's done as mayor that he regretted. As soon as Mayor gave his answer and Highfield moved away, I asked the mayor for a few seconds.

He asked who I was (a fair enough question, I thought, as I was a new face) and as we shook hands, I introduced myself as "David DeAngelo, 2 Political Junkies." I don't think I got to the end of the word "junkies" when he interrupted me with a quick, "I'm not interested, thanks." He turned and walked away, right out the door.

Wow, I thought. I just got dissed by the Mayor of the City of Pittsburgh.

As he had no idea what I was going to ask, he must have thought I had a doozy of a question picked out for him - one that he wasn't interested in answering.

WTAE's Mayoral Debate

The other political junkie attended the debate live so I'll let him do the big write-up, but my impressions are as follows.

No real fireworks though DeSantis and Ravenstahl accused each other of not answering questions and Ravenstahl accused DeSantis of "selling the city down the river" regarding the police union.

A couple of things that I didn't understand:
- I assume that when Ravenstahl said he became an ACDC member at age 15 that that was just a slip as he's said before that he was 18 -- but then I mix up some stuff that happened in my teen years too.

- Ravenstahl claimed that he was "proud of what the Democratic Party stands for" but since it's pro choice and he isn't I guess he allows himself some wiggle room.

- I still don't get how Luke thinks that opening the firefighters' contract would cost the city money especially when he said that after they had discussed an upcoming report that was expected to recommend closing down some stations...
I just got a call from David who has something very interesting to say about what happened right after the debate ended...

Stay tuned!

Gonzales To Be Charged? is reporting:
The U.S. Inspector General may recommend criminal prosecution of departed Attorney General Alberto Gonzales at the conclusion of an investigation, possibly as early as next month, the fired former U.S. attorney for Western Washington told a Spokane audience Friday.
Some details from McKay:

Gonzales “lied about” reasons for the firings when questioned under oath in July by the Senate Judiciary Committee and now has hired a lawyer and is refusing to answer questions from the Inspector General, McKay said.

The White House said McKay was fired for poor performance ratings of his office, but the ex-U.S. attorney said he and his office got exemplary reviews just three months before he was fired.

“The chief law enforcement officer for the United States should not lie under oath,’’ McKay told the bar association.

It was reported last week that Gonzales has now retained a high-profile defense lawyer, and apparently is refusing to answer questions from the Inspector General, which could signify the investigation is nearly complete, McKay said.

And this guy was appointed by dubya, remember.

There's some deeper stuff over at Next Hurrah.

Hey, Look at What Ron Paul (R-TX) Did!

On October 15th, he introduced a bill he's calling the "American Freedom Agenda Act of 2007"

You can read the bill (which was referred to the House Judiciary, Armed Services, Foreign Affairs, and Intelligence Committees) here.

Some curious provisions. On military commissions:

(a) The Military Commissions Act of 2006 is hereby repealed.

(b) The President is authorized to establish military commissions for the trial of war crimes only in places of active hostilities against the United States where an immediate trial is necessary to preserve fresh evidence or to prevent local anarchy.

(c) The President is prohibited from detaining any individual indefinitely as an unlawful enemy combatant absent proof by substantial evidence that the individual has directly engaged in active hostilities against the United States, provided that no United States citizen shall be detained as an unlawful enemy combatant.

(d) Any individual detained as an enemy combatant by the United States shall be entitled to petition for a writ of habeas corpus under section 2241 of title 28, United States Code.

On those "signing statements":
The House of Representatives and Senate collectively shall enjoy standing to file a declaratory judgment action in an appropriate Federal district court to challenge the constitutionality of a presidential signing statement that declares the President's intent to disregard provisions of a bill he has signed into law because he believes they are unconstitutional.
And so on. It bans torture and kidnapping and the use of secret evidence to designate someone an "foreign terrorist." You mean that's allowed now?

I've already written on some other less attractive bills the Congressman has introduced and I am reminded that as this bill just focuses on some aspects of the "War on Terror", it has nothing to say about privacy (medical or otherwise) or any other domestic issue.

On its face, though, it's a good start on the road back.

October 21, 2007

Jack Kelly Sunday

It's Sunday. There's a Jack Kelly column in the Post-Gazette. I know what to do. My name's Dayvoe. I have a blog.

Jack's starting point, this week, is the usual "the media isn't reporting the truth - the good news" song the rest of the right-wing has been trying to sing at us for years.

Even in the good news, they spin it as bad, he's saying. Take a look at his opening:

It's getting harder to write negative stories about the situation in Iraq, but Jay Price and Qasim Zein of the McClatchy Newspapers did their best:

"A drop in violence around Iraq has cut burials in the huge Wadi al Salam cemetery (in Najaf) by at least one third in the past six months, and that's cut the pay of thousands of workers who make their living digging graves, washing corpses or selling burial shrouds," they wrote Oct. 16.

But let's take a look at what he's quoting from. Jack must have read what he's quoting, right? Or else he wouldn't be quoting it, right?

Here's the article from Price and Zein. The second paragraph of the article is, in fact, the paragraph he quotes. But what of the first paragragh? Here it is:
At what’s believed to be the world’s largest cemetery, where Shiite Muslims aspire to be buried and millions already have been, business isn't good. [emphasis added]
The article later points out that:

Najaf, a city of about 600,000 people, is built around the gold-covered Imam Ali Mosque, a shrine to one of the most revered figures in Shiite Islam who grew up in the home of the prophet Muhammad and later became his son-in-law.

The city, with the shrine and graveyard, is considered the third-most important holy site for Shiite Muslims, after Mecca and Medina. It attracts millions of pilgrims each year — and tens of thousands of funeral parties.

So it's a Shiite cemetery in a city that's the third most important holy site for Shiite Muslims, containing as it does an important Shiite Mosque. Now, I have a question or two.

  • Isn't there a civil war raging in Iraq right now?
  • One pitting (among other things) Shiite against Sunni?
So I am guessing that this huge Shiite cemetery, during a civil war pitting Shiites against Sunnis, probably doesn't have very many Sunni graves. That alone should tell you somethings off with the article.

Anyway, it's something Jack Kelly didn't tell you. But perhaps the error lies with Price and Zein. They could have been clearer because there's something off with their numbers.

Here's what Price and Zein wrote:
Dhurgham Majed al Malik, 48, whose family has arranged burial services for generations, said that this spring, private cars and taxis with caskets lashed to their roofs arrived at a rate of 6,500 a month. Now it’s 4,000 or less, he said.
That's the only thing in the article even closely resembling "a third." But let's do the math anyway. The article says there's about 4,000 cars arriving a day carrying caskets to the cemetery. In a week that's about 28,000. A month 120,000. Six months its 720,000.

So even during the surge, there were seven hundred thousand Shiite deaths in Iraq? Can't be. Something's off. Immediately after, however, there's this:

Malik said that the daily tide of cars bearing coffins has been a barometer of Iraq’s violence for years. The number of burials rose and fell several times during Saddam Hussein’s persecution of Shiites, and it soared again during the eight years of the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.

Then in the 1990s, the daily average fell to 150 or less, Malik said. With the current war, the burials again reached 300 daily.

No idea whether that's pre-surge or post-surge or an average or a one time spike. Again some math.

I doubt it's an average. Here's why. Today is October 21. That's the 294th day of the year. If the average number of burials is 300 per day, there would have been 88,200 burials already this year. Either the vast majority of burials in the cemetery aren't war related (and that's certainly a possibility) or numbers are merely anecdotal and that would make it all less than trust worthy.

And yet, that's what Jack leads with. He should have known better.

He then moves on to this Washington Post column. It was the one written by 12 former Army Captains. But let's take a look at what they actually wrote. Here's a snippet:

What does Iraq look like on the ground? It's certainly far from being a modern, self-sustaining country. Many roads, bridges, schools and hospitals are in deplorable condition. Fewer people have access to drinking water or sewage systems than before the war. And Baghdad is averaging less than eight hours of electricity a day.

Iraq's institutional infrastructure, too, is sorely wanting. Even if the Iraqis wanted to work together and accept the national identity foisted upon them in 1920s, the ministries do not have enough trained administrators or technicians to coordinate themselves. At the local level, most communities are still controlled by the same autocratic sheiks that ruled under Saddam. There is no reliable postal system. No effective banking system. No registration system to monitor the population and its needs.

Lotsa statements of fact. Statements of fact that could be checked. How does our Jack respond? Jack criticizes it with this:
I don't doubt the former soldiers are reflecting honestly what they saw when they were in Iraq. But of the 12, only two were in Iraq in 2006. Five others served in 2005. Three served in 2004. Two served last in 2003. None have been in Iraq since Gen. David Petraeus took command and the troop surge began.
So, obviously, everything they wrote is wrong. As a counter argument, he quotes an anonymous e-mail sent to a military blogger named Blackfive. Here's the text in its entirety:
Sir, E-mailing from wonder Camp Fallujah. All is well out here. Peace is breaking out all over the place and nobody knows what to do. I spent the day with the RCT-6 CO and his PSD. We rode straight through Fallujah without incident and down to Amiriyah to check up on a Police Transition team. The TTs are quickly becoming the main effort. I rode in a new MRAP and they are pretty awesome. The A/C was down right cold and the turret system was top notch. The vehicles are rather huge, but they actually seem very nimble for their size. Not to mention they may save some lives. The Marines liked it. Things are going well and it should be a very interesting deployment for First Marines. You can't help but get the feeling that we'll be wrapping up the AO for the USMC. Which is probably appropriate considering the history that First Marines and its battalions have in the AO....especially 3/1.That's about all for now. I will be back in CONUS in a little over a week and deploy for the year in January. Hope all is well on your end.Semper Fi[name redacted]
So things are going well in Fallujah. Great news, of course. But here's what the Chicago Tribune had to say a few days ago about Fallujah:

The last car bomb in Fallujah exploded in May.

On that warm evening, insurgents drove a vehicle packed with explosives into mourners for a slain local tribal leader as they wound through a ramshackle corner of the city, killing 20. The next day, Fallujah's mayor banned all vehicles from city streets.

If there were no cars, reasoned Mayor Saad Awad Rashid, there could be no car bombs.

"It stopped," said Lt. Col. William Mullen, commander of a shrinking force of U.S. Marines in the city who have watched the insurgency melt into the encircling countryside. "The 'significant events' in the city stopped. I think a lot of [the insurgents] left."

The Americans are not far behind: After surrounding the city with walls and improving security on its streets, the Marines are pulling back from the one-time insurgent bastion of Fallujah. They are redeploying to surrounding areas as the U.S. troop "surge" allows them to consolidate progress made largely by tribal leaders and local officials in security and civil works.

Again, great news. The city walled in and less violent than it once was. But the article goes on:

Things are better but ...

It is a place under 24-hour lockdown, surrounded by berms and barbed wire. But that's a price Fallujah's war-weary residents say they are willing to pay for now.

"The last four months, things have been going better," said Khamis Auda Najim, a 38-year-old cabinet-maker in Fallujah's Andalus neighborhood. "But the changes are just on the security side. The street surfaces, the sewage, the electricity, the water? Those aren't as good."


Still Jack Kelly says we're winning in Iraq.

Fine. Can we bring the troops home then?

Now this is a puff piece!

Those who thought that The New York Times article on Mayor Luke Ravenstahl earlier this month was a real puff piece might want to read today's article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette to see what real puffery is all about.

Nearly 60 paragraphs in length, only one paragraph is devoted to Ravenstahl's cock-ups.

The rest is family friends and Councilman Motznik praising the Boy Wonder -- and in the case of the family friends, the emphasis (like his campaign lit) is on the boy.

He could tell time when he was three years old! He was Cool Hand Luke on the B-Ball court in the seventh or eighth grade! And on and on...

It should also be noted that Motznik repeats the fiction that Luke created the 311 line.

The sub-headline states: "Pittsburgh's 27-year-old mayor says the election focus should be on his record, not the controversies in which he's found himself." Funny that, aren't the controversies part of his record?

The article also recounts Ravenstahl's deep family political roots and quotes Ravenstahl saying, "I became a Democratic committeeman when I became 18 and eligible to vote."

That sure sounds like to me that he was appointed and not elected (a birthday gift?). Anyone know for certain?

Also my burning question (posed here at Mayo's blog) has been answered: Luke is the oldest boy. His baby pics now have so much more meaning for me!

October 20, 2007

DeSantis TV Ads

Saw The Admiral posted these over at The Burgh Report. Here they are:


There's an account over at youtube with the ads. Looks like they know what they're doing over there at DeSantis HQ.

Mayor Luke's Baby Pics Revealed! ...In His Campaign Mailer

Hey, gang! Did you receive your Luke Ravenstahl campaign brochure in the mail yesterday?

I did.

And, I must say WTF???

I'm a super voter. That means I've received tons of campaign lit over the years. Out of all the campaign lit to make its way into my mailbox or storm door Luke's mailer is a first -- the first time a candidate has not one, but two baby pics in it.

Let's review the whole thing, shall we?

First of all it's a glossy, color, double sided four-pager (8 pages of "content") and unlike most, it's saddle-stitched (stapled), in other words: an expensive production.

The outside cover has the now ubiquitous photo of Lukey with hands on hips (strangely dark, I must say) with the words: "Mayor Luke Ravenstahl A Pittsburgh Story" and there's an insert picture of what I'm assuming is Luke and his two brothers as small children decked out in football helmets and meant-to-be endearingly large football T-shirts (Nativity!) holding...a football.

When you open it up to the first two inside pages, two-thirds of it are Ravenstahl family pics: Luke with Mom and Dad and siblings, Luke with wife, Luke in graduation cap and gown (is it for high school or college? I don't know. I suppose a real reporter like a Mayo, Delano, Lord or Earl would investigate the red cap color and have a real reporter's answer, but being a blogger, I'll take a pass).

A full page is devoted to a sepia-toned baby/toddler pic of Lukey and his bros. Which one is Lukey? I don't know! Am I supposed to know his birth order? Did I miss that in Teen Beat magazine? I don't know!

But it is a cute picture and I suppose it's supposed to evoke some sort of warm, fuzzy feelings in me, especially as a woman (do cute baby pics work on guys?). I'm also guessing that it fills in for the pics of candidate's kids that often make there way into these types of lit (but they are not typically full-page).

Mostly however, when coupled with the copy on the page, I'm guessing it's supposed to evoke the warm, fuzzy feelings that Burghers have had in the past for Luke. Something for the "He's just a regular Burgher/Give the kid a chance/Great young hope" crowd.

You know, remind the folks why they liked the adorable little Opie in the first place before he sorely tested our patience and we now want to give the kid a spanking instead of one more chance.

The text simultaneously reminds us that Luke comes from a longtime Pittsburgh political family (father a judge and grandfather a state rep) while saying he's just like us all (He grew up here! A lifelong Pittsburgher! A familiar face on local school and sports teams!). Perhaps most tellingly, it lets us know that he and his wife are members of Holy Wisdom Parish. I mean, do we even know if DeSantis is a Catholic? (What kind of candidate doesn't tell us where he does or doesn't worship!? Commie bastard!)

The next two inside pages get down to the real business at hand and are titled "Mayor Luke Ravenstahl Answering Pittsburgh's Call."

They evoke the late Mayor Bob O'Connor's passing and a bolded, set-off paragraph proclaims:

And in one of the city's darkest hours, Luke answered Pittsburgh's call."
(Would that be when a tornado and flooding came to town and Lukey was hobnobbing at a Steeler's training? Hmmm...maybe not.)

OK. Can anyone name a single politician in town who wouldn't have answered "the call" to be mayor if it was handed to them on a silver platter? (OK, pols, don't trip over each other running to claim the title.)

There's pics of Luke hugging an older woman, skoolin' some old dude on fiscal policy (note the framed photo of Bob O'Connor looking on) and sitting with adorable minority children (one case where Ravenstahl actually managed to make a meeting with some of Pittburgh's African American community members).

The last two inside pages proclaim "Mayor Luke Ravenstahl Fresh Leadership for Pittsburgh's Future" and have snips of headlines like "Pittsburgh's Great Young Hope, CBS News" (I'm guessing that David Letterman, Tiger Woods and Sienna Miller declined to have their pictures used).

It is only until page six that any sort of actual policy is discussed.

Here, for example, Luke notes that he's put more police on the street. (It does not explain that he gamed the numbers by merging housing and city police to get around the mandate for 900 officers). It also says that Luke gave police "improved technology to do their jobs" -- that wouldn't be, say, a tricked out Homeland Security SUV that Luke uses for joyrides, would it -- and, how is that FOP endorsement of your opponent working for you? There's also a big photo of Lil Mayor Luke pouring over more reports.

The back page contains another beauty shot of the mayor with a quote that Lukey loves the city and needs our help.

Most interesting on this page is instead of the expected "Paid for by Friends of Luke Ravenstahl" or "Paid for by Ravenstahl for Mayor" we see "Paid for and authorized by the Pennsylvania Democratic State Committee."

Are there some folks worried out there?

Doesn't Lil Mayor Luke have a big war chest to pay for this on his own?

Is Luke worried that if DeSantis makes a good showing, he'll not only need that money to fight off a slew of contenders in two years, but he'll also have to spend the next two years campaigning -- as if he ever stopped in the last year?

Will he need to break out some TV ads?

Will they contain even more pics of Lukey as an adorable tot? (You can bet your ass they will!)

Stay tuned for these and other questions.

Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel!

A Tale of Two Brochures:

DeSantis Vs. Ravenstahl

I'm Luke! I was an adorable tike in Pittsburgh!
Which adorable tike am I? Who cares!

I'm Maria! I was a semi-adorable tike in Pittsburgh!
Does it matter which tike? Apparently not!
Does it qualify me to be mayor? Apparently so!

NEXT: New Ravenstahl print ad to feature adorable family pets.
New TV ad to feature dangling keys! Ooooo! Shiny!

October 19, 2007

HA! Pgh Police Union Endorses DeSantis

From the Post-Gazette:
The union representing City of Pittsburgh police today endorsed Republican mayoral challenger Mark DeSantis over incumbent Democrat Luke Ravenstahl. The Fraternal Order of Police was announcing the choice at an afternoon press conference.
The article also said, "The Ravenstahl campaign was not immediately available for comment."

I'll bet!

I hear tell of another group who would normally be expected to endorse Luke is now heavily considering endorsing DeSantis. Let's just say that they're folks who are also comfortable with weapons...

Ann Coulter is a Complete Lunatic

I was gonna write about the SCHIP veto override, then I saw this at

For those who need a good reminder, some time ago, Ms Coulter, speaking for all Christians, said this to Donny Deutsch on CNBC:
[W]e just want Jews to be perfected, as they say.
You can read the rest of the interview here. There's more in the interview about how interracial couples in New York City...well you have to read it for all it's painstaking genetic subtlety:

COULTER:...You walk past a mixed-race couple in New York, and it's like they have a chip on their shoulder. They're just waiting for somebody to say something, as if anybody would. And --

DEUTSCH: I don't agree with that. I don't agree with that at all. Maybe you have the chip looking at them. I see a lot of interracial couples, and I don't see any more or less chips there either way. That's erroneous.

COULTER: No. In fact, there was an entire Seinfeld episode about Elaine and her boyfriend dating because they wanted to be a mixed-race couple, so you're lying.

DEUTSCH: Oh, because of some Seinfeld episode? OK.

For those keeping score at home, the Seinfeld episode she's referring to is, I believe, called "The Wizard" and it was first broadcast in late February, 1998. That's almost a decade ago. Nice that she's up on popular culture.

Anyway, she was on the radio recently with Michael Medved, who is both conservative and Jewish (and obviously not "perfected"). She tried to explain herself by saying:
And by the way, of course a Christian wants everyone to be a Christian. I assume all vegans think the world would be better if everyone were a vegan. And the global warming wackos would like everyone to believe in their crackpot global warming theory. And nonsmokers would like everyone not to smoke. I don't even go around passing laws, like Michael Bloomberg.
I just love the part about the "crackpot global warming theory." Anyway later on she said this about Judaism:
But Judaism, as I explained -- Christians accept the Old Testament. Jews don't accept the New Testament, so, you know, as long as we're playing this new sport of "he who is offended first wins," if anyone's going to be offended by anyone else's religion, the Jews believe that my savior, a Jew, was a raving lunatic, and you don't see me sniffling and crying.
Sniffling and crying (about any subject) might make her human.

October 18, 2007

Iraq: Getting Better or Worse?

There's a new gallup poll out on just this question (h/t to Talkingpointssmemo on this).

I bring the news to you so that in your daily lives, when you're faced with a citizen of winguttia, you can look him or her straight in the eye and say, "Uh, no."

Of the REPUBLICANS polled, only about one third (34%) said things are getting better in Iraq. Leaving, of course, the other two thirds who think things are either the same or getting worse. It breaks down this way: 37% think things are about the same and 27% think things are worse. Again these are the REPUBLICANS we're talking about here.

Only a third of them think things are getting better in dubya's war. Surges? We don't need no stinkin surges!

So next time you stumble across one and he (or she) tries to tell you about how much better things are over there, you can remind your newly found friend that that's a minority view among God's Own Party.

More numbers:

Only about a sixth of those polled think things are getting better (16%) while a majority (53%) things are getting worse. A little under a third (30%) think things are the same.

Again, what surge? Wasn't there a surge that was supposed to clear everything up?

And of course, 60% think it was a mistake to send troops into Iraq.

It would be nice to have a Congress that agrees with the American People.

No One Hearts Dubya or Congress

From Reuters:
Deepening unhappiness with President George W. Bush and the U.S. Congress soured the mood of Americans and sent Bush's approval rating to another record low this month, according to a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday.
Bush's job approval rating fell to 24 percent from last month's record low for a Zogby poll of 29 percent. A paltry 11 percent gave Congress a positive grade, tying last month's record low.
Now we all know why dubya's numbers are in the toilet (his illegal war, the un-American domestic surveillance, and so on), but Congress? Perhaps this is the reason. Yesterday, the FISA bill passed last August (and rushed through Congress with more lies of terrorist threats) was to be voted on again. Congressman Jason Altmire was on Lynn Cullen's radio show to talk about the vote.

The vote never happened.

The GOP effectively threw a wrench into the works late last night. From The Politico:

Democratic leaders in the House were forced to suspend consideration of legislation updating the laws for warrantless wiretapping Wednesday after Republicans threatened to offer a procedural blockade.

Aides to Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) notified Republicans Wednesday evening that the bill, which had been scheduled for a vote that afternoon, would not come to the floor after Republicans advertised their intent to offer a motion that would essentially kill it.

The motion was a simple declaration that nothing in the bill would prevent intelligence officials from conducting surveillance on Osama bin Laden, al Qaeda or "any other terrorist organization" from attacking the United States or its citizens.

The problem is that Republicans wrote the motion in such a way that it would kill the overarching bill if Democrats helped them approve it.

And since most members of Congress would rather not vote for something that could be construed on the campaign trail as a vote to defend bin Laden, al Qaeda or any other terrorist organization, Democratic leaders could not bring the overarching bill to the floor.

TPMElection Central has some more details. Eric Cantor, GOP House member from the New York, posted this on his website:
Today, we will be offering an amendment to the legislation to clarify that nothing in the bill "shall be construed to prohibit the intelligence community from conducting surveillance needed to prevent Osama Bin Laden, Al Qaeda, or any other foreign terrorist organization…from attacking the United States or any United States person."
The only problem is that the FISA bill already had such provisions. Rep Jerry Nadler (D-NY):
It also includes emergency provisions, including the ability to get a warrant after the fact, to ensure that the government will never have to stop listening to a suspected terrorist plotting an attack.
As Greg Sargent writes: would appear to make it very obvious that Cantor's amendment was simply about scuttling the bill and nothing else.
Even the AP said that:
The measure would have allowed unfettered telephone and e-mail surveillance of foreign intelligence targets but would require special authorization if the foreign targets were likely to be in contact with people inside the United States, a provision designed to safeguard Americans' privacy.

The Republicans scuttled a bill that would protect our privacy. But when have they ever believed in the right to privacy?

All this while polls show that voters oppose warrantless wiretaps. Somewhere around 60% of them.

The people are against the war, they voted in a Democratic Congress to stop it. It can't or won't. The people are against warrantless wiretapping, the Democrats in Congress can't stop the minority party in the House from scuttling the bill.

Is there any wonder why the numbers for Congress are so frickin low?

October 17, 2007

"Here's a quarter, call someone who cares," sincerely, Rep. Grucela 

The most retarded amendment ever...and it's by a Democrat!

We've been blogging about PA House Bill 288 since June. The idea of the bill is very simple:
House Bill 288 requires all Pennsylvania hospitals to provide information and access to emergency contraception medication to rape victims if they request it.
It's so freaking simple and straightforward that some idiots in the Pennsylvania House can't keep their stupid hands off of it. Or rather, it has such widespread public support that the opposition is running scared and will try anything to water it down.

The latest amendment is by Rep. Grucela:
Grucela introduced an amendment which "allows" a victim to call an immediate family member about her assault, who would be expected to bring emergency contraception to the hospital, rather than have it provided by the medical professionals in charge of her care.
I'm sorry, but can you name any other circumstance in which a hospital lets family members give drugs to patients willy-nilly in an emergency room? Can you say LIABILITY?

Do you know of any other class of patients who are expected to have family members treat them in an emergency room?!?

Why is it if she's a victim of rape, she's subjected to a lesser standard of medical care!?

And, what if she's there because she was incested? What "immediate family member" is she supposed to call?

This is un-freaking-real.

Please call your House member and make sure they have the facts straight!
  • Support House Bill 288 with the Ross amendment.
  • Oppose the Grucela amendment, and any additional amendments to the bill.
  • If your legislator happens to be Rep. Grucela, let his office know you are appalled that he would even consider an amendment that puts the burden of care on the victim rather than medical providers.
  • Please take a moment to call today to get your legislator on record!

    You can find your legislator at:

    And then, let Planned Parenthood of Pennsylvania Advocates know you called here so they can track the support.

    Public Hearing Tomorrow on Pittsburgh Police & Domestic Violence Bill

    WHAT: Public Hearing - Bill No. 2007-1797
    WHEN: Thursday, October 18, 2007, 9:30 A.M.
    WHERE: Pittsburgh City Council Chambers, City-County Building, 414 Grant Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15219 (Corner of Grant & Forbes, 5th Floor)

    There will be a public hearing tomorrow in Pittsburgh City Council Chambers on Bill No. 2007-1797 introduced by Council President Doug Shields on September 25, 2007.

    The bill was created to address the concerns originally caused by the promotion of three police officers with a history of domestic violence allegations on June 18.

    The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette identified 35 officers who have had protection-from-abuse orders taken out on them since 1992.

    The full text of the bill can be found at:

    Several women's and domestic violence groups (including Jeanne Clark of the National Organization for Women) were instrumental in making sure that the issue of police with domestic violence histories was addressed.

    However, Bill No. 2007-1797 has been met with some criticism.

    As is to be expected, the police union is not happy with it:
    Pittsburgh's police union charged yesterday that a proposed ordinance to address officer-involved domestic violence amounts to "police bashing" and "overkill."
    Meanwhile, not a few charge that the bill does not go far enough. From a September 26th P-G article:

    But Elizabeth Pittinger, executive director of the Citizen Police Review Board, said she found Mr. Shields' bill lacking.

    An effective ordinance "has to be more explicit in its expectation of employee conduct, and it has to be more explicit in the consequences," Ms. Pittinger said.

    Also lacking, she said, was language dealing with officers who are subjects of protection orders but have not been charged with crimes
    Gloria Forouzan, founder of Run, Baby, Run, is also quoted in that article, but you can read an extended version of her objections here at The Pittsburgh Women's Blogging Society (including this gem: "The ordinance assures us that the Police Bureau's brass will “strongly consider” not hiring people with abusive/violent tendencies. Wow, that's really reassuring. Are they kidding?").

    Additionally, a Post-Gazette editorial from the beginning of this month stated that the ordinance was a good start but "needs more work."

    Doug Shields has said that he considers the bill to be a first step and that there will be additional legislation.

    In other words: there's still loads to discuss on this issue which is why I urge all who can to attend the meeting tomorrow.

    And, if there's any question that domestic violence is violence -- is a crime and not just a family matter -- please take a look at the following remarkable and gut-wrenching 20/20 report which has as its centerpiece a video of an abuser who was crazy enough to have his 13 year-old son videotape him emotionally and then physically abusing his wife:

    UPDATE: You can call the City Clerk to testify at tomorrow's hearing at 412-255-2138. You can still speak for one minute (only) even if you don't sign up, but you'll be at the end of the line.

    Dan Simpson on Pittsburgh's Single Party Rule

    It can be summed up in two words: Bad Government.

    The cool thing about Dan Simpson is that as a former career diplomat, he's able to bring a broader perspective to some local issues. Like the effects single-party rule brings to a place.

    In Burundi the party was UPRONA, the Union for National Progress. In Bulgaria it was the Bulgarian Communist Party. In Zaire, it was the Popular Movement of the Revolution and in the Central African Republic, the Central African Democratic Assembly. In Chicago, under Mayor Richard J. Daley, it was the Democratic Party, as it is here.

    Pittsburgh has been under Democratic Party control for more than 70 years. It shows virtually all of the effects of single-party rule, with the exception of the use of police and other security forces to keep the ruling party in power, although one of this year's mayoral candidates, Ryan Scott of the Socialist Workers Party, complained repeatedly about police repression in the mayoral candidates' forum the Post-Gazette sponsored last week.

    He adds that one of the many problems single-party rule brings is that serious issues do not get addressed. Locally, that's city-county consolidation. Simpson sez: Won't happen here. Why?
    ...everyone knows that consolidation has to occur if Pittsburgh is ever to break out of its vicious cycle of insolvency and high taxes, but the Democrats do not want to achieve that efficiency since it would mean moving their supporters out of patronage jobs.
    He takes a stab at Mayor Luke and does that broader context thing to find another example:

    When Mr. Ravenstahl grows up he might make a decent mayor. At 27, being 27, as he tells us when we the media point out what he is doing, he feels free to accept gifts from the Penguins and UPMC and to commit the typical cardinal sin of officials in a one-party state -- employing public assets for his private use. Only someone who knows he will get elected no matter what he does would use a Department of Homeland Security-provided vehicle to go on a recreational outing with his wife.

    But that is normal behavior in a one-party state. President Mobutu Sese Seku of Zaire used to requisition the planes of the national airline, Air Zaire, for personal trips to his vacation homes around the world. For him there was no distinction between public and private property -- what was his because of his position and what was his personally. No party but the ruling party in a one-party state would dare put up for election such a candidate.

    Now I can imagine all the Luke Supporters who crowd this blog (and you know who you are!) wanting to get all medieval on Simpson's behind for comparing their boy to one of the more obviously corrupt dictators of Central Africa. They'd be looking, I would think, to distract the conversation away from Mayor Luke's obviously improper use of a DHS vehicle as his personal ride to criticising Simpson for saying that Pittsburgh's Ravenstahl was as bad as Zaire's Mobotu (and if you look carefully, Simpson didn't say that at all).

    On the other candidates, Simspon is less than enthusiastic:
    ...Bill Peduto, who either deliberately or unwittingly put forward the message that there are different points of view within the ruling Democratic Party. That is an illusion that the population should not buy. If someone like Mr. Peduto were elected mayor, it would be highly unlikely that he would change anything significant, having incurred the debts that he would have had to incur within the party to get elected.
    So is there any way out of this mess? It's hard to say. The Republican candidate, Mark DeSantis, is not exactly a ball of fire, either. Ryan Scott, 24, the Socialist Worker candidate, and Tony Oliva, 27, the Libertarian candidate, are basically repositories of undeveloped ideas, works in progress like Mr. Ravenstahl.
    So there you have it. Single-party rule: Bad. For Pittsburgh, there's little chance of any way out of it.

    Thus Spake Simpson.

    October 16, 2007

    Worst Judge in PA?

    Philadelphia Municipal Court Judge Teresa Carr Deni apparently believes that it's impossible to rape sex workers.

    Judge Deni dropped all sex and assault charges against defendant Dominique Gindraw at his preliminary hearing where he was being accused of raping a prostitute at gunpoint and inviting three of his buddies to rape her as well.

    Deni deemed that the charges should have been "theft of services."


    Deni remarked that the case "minimizes true rape cases and demeans women who are really raped." (Undoubtedly the woman was thinking while being assaulted at gunpoint, "Well, at least I'm not being really, really raped cause that would be just awful.")

    The Philadelphia Daily News article goes on to note that, "The defendant was charged in an identical incident involving a 23-year-old woman four days later..."

    Well, why the hell not?

    Maybe if Gindraw graduates to raping and killing prostitutes, they can charge him with "theft of services" and "interruption of a business." Then they can give him a ticket or something....

    (h/t to Shakesville)

    In Other Stupid Pennsylvania Legal Moves News:

    A woman in West Scranton, PA is facing possible jail time for swearing at an overflowing toilet in her own home.

    Seems her neighbor is a police officer and didn't like her use of profanity (heard through an open bathroom window) and called his buddies over.

    The woman was cited with using obscene language or gestures “with intent to cause public inconvenience, annoyance or alarm or recklessly (creating) a risk ...”

    It should be noted that the woman said that the off duty officer yelled at her to "Shut the fuck up."

    He doesn't appear to have been charged with any crime....