Monday, October 16, 2006

RSS feed wonkiness

Sorry, bear with me. My blog is clearly experiencing technical difficulties again because of the new beta blogger system that Google implemented over at BlogSpot, this time because my template got updated to the new system.

Anyway, I'm not trying to make it do this, and you have my apologies if you read this feed. I'm not sure how to keep this from happening, as I have no control over the feed itself or how some RSS readers choose to syndicate the material I post. At the very most this should only happen one more time, if at all. I'm hoping for zero more times, myself.

Topical mish-mash

According to this poll (PDF file) by FOX News and Opinion Dynamics, 4% of likely voters don't know if they approve of the job George W. Bush is doing. Now, I understand that sometimes it's difficult to make a decision about important things, but that particular fence is pretty thin. How is it supporting 4% of "likely" voters?

In that same poll, we have an interesting agree/disagree question, phrased thus:

The United States has sacrificed enough for the people of Iraq, and now it is time that they take on most of the burden of security in their country and let U.S. troops start to come home.

Remember that this is a FOX News poll, so you can bet that those words were chosen very carefully. 73% of those polled agreed with the statement. As Ex Cathedra said, "Remember [those words]. You’ll be hearing them a lot very soon."

And now it's story time. This was taken from alt.politics.homosexuality via FSTDT:

A Day in Life of Joe Republican

Joe gets up at 6 a.m. and fills his coffeepot with water to prepare his morning coffee. The water is clean and good because some tree-hugging liberal fought for minimum water-quality standards.

With his first swallow of coffee, he takes his daily medication. His medications are safe to take because some stupid commie liberal fought to insure their safety and that they work as advertised.

All but $10 of his medications are paid for by his employer's medical plan because some liberal union workers fought their employers for paid medical insurance – now Joe gets it, too.

He prepares his morning breakfast, bacon and eggs. Joe's bacon is safe to eat because some girly-man liberal fought for laws to regulate the meat packing industry.

In the morning shower, Joe reaches for his shampoo. His bottle is properly labeled with each ingredient and its amount in the total contents because some crybaby liberal fought for his right to know what he was putting on his body and how much it contained.

Joe dresses, walks outside and takes a deep breath. The air he breathes is clean because some environmentalist wacko liberal fought for laws to stop industries from polluting our air.

He walks to the subway station for his government-subsidized ride to work. It saves him considerable money in parking and transportation fees because some fancy-pants liberal fought for affordable public transportation, which gives everyone the opportunity to be a contributor.

Joe begins his workday. He has a good job with excellent pay, medical benefits, retirement, paid holidays and vacation because some lazy liberal union members fought and died for these working standards. Joe's employer pays these standards because Joe's employer doesn't want his employees to call the union. If Joe is hurt on the job or becomes unemployed, he'll get a workers compensation or unemployment check because some stupid liberal didn't think he should lose his home because of his temporary misfortune.

It's noontime, and Joe needs to make a bank deposit so he can pay some bills. Joe's deposit is federally insured by the FSLIC, because some godless liberal wanted to protect Joe's money from unscrupulous bankers who ruined the banking system before the Great Depression. Joe has to pay his Fannie Mae-underwritten mortgage and his
below-market federal student loan because some elitist liberal decided that Joe and the government would be better off if he were educated and earned more money over his lifetime.

Joe is home from work. He plans to visit his father this evening at his farm home in the country. He gets in his car for the drive. His car is among the safest in the world because some America-hating liberal fought for car safety standards.

He arrives at his boyhood home. His was the third generation to live in the house financed by Farmers' Home Administration because bankers didn't want to make rural loans. The house didn't have electricity until some big-government liberal stuck his nose where it didn't belong and demanded rural electrification.

He is happy to see his father, who is now retired. His father lives on Social Security and a union pension because some wine-drinking, cheese-eating liberal made sure he could take care of himself so Joe wouldn't have to.

Joe gets back in his car for the ride home, and turns on a radio talk show. The radio host keeps saying that liberals are bad and conservatives are good. He doesn't mention that the beloved Republicans have fought against every protection and benefit Joe enjoys throughout his day. Joe agrees: "We don't need those big-government liberals ruining our lives! After all, I'm a self-made man who believes everyone should take care of themselves, just like I have."

So when you stick that "LIBERAL" label on me as if it's an insult, I will gladly accept it. I am a liberal, I am a leftist, and I'm proud of it.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Foley is NOT A DEMOCRAT! Sheesh!

I've been reading a number of people's posts at other blogs and forums, and the sites that have a distinctly conservative bent assuming that disgraced former Congressman Mark Foley is a Democrat and simply won't believe anyone that tells them otherwise. I'd really like to know where they got that idea...

...but boy, I really didn't have to look too far. First, shockingly (and awe-ingly?) it was FOX News, specifically the O'Reilly Factor that started it, where they showed two video clips of Foley, both of them containing the same D-FL caption. (Links are all to WMV videos, thanks to The Brad Blog.

When the show re-aired in the late night hours, rather than correcting the "mistake" to R-FL, they simply ran the video without the graphic. They've now said that they don't need to run a correction on air because "everyone knows" Foley is a Republican. Really. Everyone?

Is that why the AP was running their stories on the issue with Foley labelled a Democrat along with, of all people, Dennis Hastert?

Personal responsibility my ass. Liberal media bias my ass.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Those wild 'n crazy Westboro Baptists...

...just won't ever shut the hell up and go away, will they?

I mean, it's bad enough that some whackjob shoots up an Amish schoolhouse, but then you have Shirley Phelps-Roper, daughter of Fred Phelps, both examples of people with less brains than a cucumber, telling them they deserved it:

"Those Amish people, everyone is sitting around talking about those poor little girls — blah, blah, blah — they brought the wrath upon themselves," Phelps-Roper said, adding that the Amish "don't serve God, they serve themselves."

Ridiculous. And the people who cover this sort of nonsense are stuck between a rock and a hard place, really. Do you cover this stuff and, as a result, give these jerks a voice? Or do you ignore it, hoping that it will go away, but at the same time fail to expose these people for what they are?

Friday, September 29, 2006

S. 3930 voting in Pennsylvania

Both Senators Santorum and Specter in Pennsylvania voted to break the Geneva Conventions.

I suppose that about speaks for itself.

Mirror, mirror...

In the neverending quest our government seems to have to make our government more and more like the one we removed from Iraq, the passage Wednesday of a bill in the House to "authorize trial by military commission for violations of the law of war, and for other purposes" may just mark a new high water mark. In this case, that's not a good thing.

Here is the bill in the Senate, which has also passed 65-34, though it's not obvious from the link, and you just know that Georgie isn't going to veto anything that gives him more power.

In effect, this bill breaks the Third Geneva Convention outright. According to Sean T. Lewis, President of Chapter 72 of Veterans for Peace, in an e-mail to his daughter, edited only to fit this blog:

First you need a little understanding of the Geneva Conventions.

Specifically for this case, the Third Geneva Convention.

The Geneva Conventions are a series of international treaties signed and ratified by almost every nation on Earth. Collectively, they define the basis of International Law and the Law of War. The Third Convention addresses specific concerns of the "classes" of enemies in armed conflict, and how each class is to be treated in time of war. In a nutshell, there are four classes of enemies: combatants, non-combatants, government officials, former combatants, and "other." The Third Convention provides for humane treatment of all classes of enemy, including "other." These rules prohibit torture, physical punishment, withholding of basic necessities like food and water, and mental cruelty.

In his "War on Terra," Bush has tried to rhetorically add a fifth category: "enemy combatant." By Bush Doctrine, an enemy combatant is not covered by the Third Convention, and therefore has no rights or protections. The Bush Administration has even arrested American citizens and called them "enemy combatants" so that they could be detained without charge, tried without benefit of counsel, tried without being presented with witnesses or evidence against them, and held without the protections against coercion and torture.

All of this was against the law because they ran against the Geneva Conventions, which requires that all "enemies" who don't fall in the first three classes are treated by the conditions of the "other" class. By virtue of being a ratified treaty, the Geneva Conventions hold the same weight of law as the Constitution itself by Article VI of the US Constitution.

Earlier this month, the US Supreme Court, in hearing a case challenging the Bush Doctrine, found that the Administration had indeed been violating the Geneva Conventions, and thus US Law. The Bush Doctrine regarding illegal detentions, tribunals, and torture were struck down as un-Constitutional.

The bill that passed the House yesterday and the Senate today changes the law of the United States in violation of the Geneva Conventions. It even says so in the latter part of the bill:


(a) Implementation of Treaty Obligations-

(1) IN GENERAL- The acts enumerated in subsection (d) of section 2441 of title 18, United States Code, as added by subsection (b) of this section, and in subsection (c) of this section, constitute violations of common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions prohibited by United States law.

As I said, the Geneva Conventions have defined the Law of War for almost a century. No nation has ever dared to officially violate it. A goodly number (way too many) have violated the Conventions, but they've always covered it up, and kept the Conventions themselves as official policy.

The Conventions are at the heart of international law and diplomacy. Their existence makes war a little less horrific. As nations go into battle, the troops have always gone in with the knowledge that the Conventions would protect them if captured. The United States now openly snubs International Law. This is not only immoral and illegal, it is extremely dangerous, especially for American troops on the ground. Now, with the US rejection of the Conventions, other nations have no legal requirement to follow the Conventions themselves when facing against us.

This act also sets the stage for heinous war crimes to be committed by our government and our troops. This is where we turn to the Nuremberg Principles.

The Principles came out of the Nuremberg Trials at the end of World War II, where Nazi soldiers as well as civilian leaders were tried for crimes against humanity and genocide. Adoption of the Nuremberg Principles required each nation to create its own internal laws to provide for the punishment of crimes against humanity such as those committed by Nazi Germany. In the United States, these were codified most recently in the War Crimes Act of 1996.

Tucked away inside the Military Commissions Act of 2006 is a clause that protects from prosecution civilian leaders of the United States such as the President, Vice President, Senators and Representatives, Secretary of State, Attorney General and the Secretary of Defense in cases related to war crimes.

All in all, we are now officially a "Rogue State." The biggest difference between us today and Germany in 1937 is that they had better uniforms, and the trains ran on time. OH, and they did not have nuclear weapons.

I really, truly, honestly think you should be looking into opportunities to study abroad for college.

Locally, Tim Murphy (R-PA18) and Melissa Hart (R-PA4) voted in favor of the bill, unsurprisingly. Just one more reason to vote Altmire this fall. The bill passed the Senate 65-34 late on Thursday, but I can't find a list of votes yet. Once I do, I'll post those, also, but I hear that John McCain, of all people, the torture victim himself, voted in favor.

According to the above-linked CNN article, a "lone Republican" was trying to change the bill to make it slightly less heinous, and failed; based on the information on the Library of Congress website (linked at the top of the post), that lone wolf was likely Arlen Specter (R-PA). I can only hope that he followed through and voted nay, but I'm not holding my breath.

Again, as soon as I have Senate voting information, I'll post it.

EDIT: I wanted to mention also that John Murtha voted nay. I'm not really surprised by that.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Further commentary on Clinton's explosion

Monday night on Keith Olbermann's show on MSNBC, he had a ten-minute segment on the Wallace ambush of Bill Clinton this past weekend. Luckily, it's on the website for everyone to see, and everyone should see it, in my opinion.

Clinton ambushed

I haven't posted in a while, but I finally found a good reason to do so.

FOX News lackey Chris Wallace (who I'm sure is the apple of his father, Mike Wallace's eye after saying that he's "checked out") got an interview with Bill Clinton, nominally about the Clinton Global Initiative project.

Instead, he asked Bill about Osama bin Laden. There's a transcript of the interview on Think Progress and an excerpt (containing the entire response to the question of what Bill did to find bin Laden) on YouTube.

I didn't get to see the actual show, because I didn't hear about it until after the show aired, but who wants to bet that FOX edited the interview to make Chris look like something other than a complete moron and to make Bill look exactly like a complete moron?

What can I say but that this is just more evidence that conservative Republicans should never, ever hold any semblance of power in this country again?

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

To paraphrase Billy Joel...

...I might be right: you might be crazy, Ann Coulter. This transcript I found on Wonkette of an appearance yesterday on The Big Idea with Donny Deutsch on CNBC really clinches it for me (as if all her other guano-effin'-insane comments hadn't already done that).

Ms. COULTER: I think that sort of rampant promiscuity does show some level of latent homosexuality.

DEUTSCH: OK, I think you need to say that again. That Bill Clinton, you think on some level, has — is a latent homosexual, is that what you’re saying?

Ms. COULTER: Yeah.

DEUTSCH: Before we’re off the air, you were talking about Bill Clinton. Is there anything you want to say about Clinton? No?


DEUTSCH: OK. All right. Did you find him attractive? Was that what it was?


DEUTSCH: You don’t find him attractive?

Ms. COULTER: No. OK, fine, I’ll say it on air.

DEUTSCH: Most women find him attractive.


DEUTSCH: OK, say it on air.

Ms. COULTER: I think that sort of rampant promiscuity does show some level of latent homosexuality.

DEUTSCH: OK, I think you need to say that again. That Bill Clinton, you think on some level, has – is a latent homosexual, is that what you’re saying?

Ms. COULTER: Yeah. I mean, not sort of just completely anonymous – I don’t know if you read the Starr report, the rest of us were glued to it, I have many passages memorized. No, there was more plot and dialogue in a porno movie.

DEUTSCH: I’m not paying any attention. I’m still stuck on Bill Clinton. Don’t – now, isn’t that an example of mean-spirted? Isn’t that just a mean-spirited low blow? No pun intended.

Ms. COULTER: No. Which part of what I said?

DEUTSCH: I think this...

Ms. COULTER: Well, you can read high crimes and misdemeanors if he wants some low blows.

DEUTSCH: OK. No, no. Here’s a – here’s a president of the United States...

Ms. COULTER: There’s merely a comment.

DEUTSCH: ...a former president of the United States, and just saying, "You know what? I think he has latent homosexual tendencies."

Ms. COULTER: No. I think anyone with that level of promiscuity where, you know, you – I mean, he didn’t know Monica’s name until their sixth sexual encounter. There is something that is – that is of the bathhouse about that.

DEUTSCH: But what is the homosexual – that’s – you could say somebody who maybe doesn’t celebrate women the way he should or just is that he’s a hound dog?

Ms. COULTER: No. It’s just random, is this obsession with his...

DEUTSCH: But where’s the – but where’s the homosexual part of that? I’m – once again, I’m speechless here.

Ms. COULTER: It’s reminiscent of a bathhouse. It’s just this obsession with your own – with your own essence.

May I insert here, no pun intended, that this last line of hers is strangely reminiscent of Dr. Strangelove? Anyway, continuing, with the last line probably the funniest thing she's ever said...

DEUTSCH: But why is that homosexual? You could say narcissistic.

Ms. COULTER: Right.

DEUTSCH: You could say nymphomaniac.

Ms. COULTER: Well, there is something narcissistic about homosexuality. Right? Because you’re in love with someone who looks like you. I’m not breaking new territory here, why are you looking at me like that?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Site feed

There seems to have been an error in the site's feed that truncated all the posts at around 255 characters. I've reset the feed, so this is the cause if you are reading this via syndication and you just got a spam-load of TftM posts. You have my apologies for that, but hopefully this will fix the problem.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Say what?

This from Bill O'Reilly's Radio Factor show:

If we knew today what we knew four years ago, I [wouldn't have] wanted to go into Iraq, either.

Fortunately, I know what he meant to say. Unfortunately for him, it didn't come out that way, and I caught it. Following this statement, a (stupid) caller parroted the exact wording, committing the same rift in the timeline, and O'Reilly said, "Yes, exactly."

And he calls us "out there."

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Four dead in Ohio

Or: Why I will never vote for another Republican candidate in my life, even if he or she holds positions I agree with.

I know this is starting to be old news now, but I wanted to link to Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.'s article in Rolling Stone about the 2004 election. It's now obvious that it was stolen, and Kennedy's article details exactly how it was done.

"We're in a terrible fix," Rep. [John] Conyers [(D-MI), ranking Democrat on the House Judiciary Committee] told me. "We've got a media that uses its bullhorn in reverse – to turn down the volume on this outrage rather than turning it up. That's why our citizens are not up in arms."

The four dead in Ohio were good friends of mine named , , , and , and you can read more of their obituaries in the links on their names.

Tags: ,

Monday, June 05, 2006

Ambassador Bolton: "[P]ut up or shut up time"

In case you were wondering, according to this video (found by a forum poster in Syria) of American United Nations ambassador John Bolton on Neil Cavuto's FOX News show, this country of ours is still considering unilateral military action against Iran if they do not comply with our country's wishes. Here's a transcript:

BOLTON: And I think when the President says it’s unacceptable, I think what he means by that is that it’s unacceptable. So it’s important…

CAVUTO: But unacceptable means that if it keeps going on you’re going to do something about it…

BOLTON: That no option is taken off the table. And Secretary…

CAVUTO: Military as well?

BOLTON: Exactly. Secretary Rice…

CAVUTO: Unilateral military action?

BOLTON: Secretary Rice made that point again today. But that’s why I think…

CAVUTO: That we would, I’m sorry Ambassador, that we would act alone if we had to?

BOLTON: That’s why he says no option is taken off the table. But it’s also why he has, the President, has reached out President Putin and other leaders in the past couple of days to say, “We’re making a significant step here,” that will be criticized by many of the president’s staunchest supporters here at home. But he’s taking this step to show strength and American leadership and to say he’s willing to do something that may be unpopular even with some of his supporters, to remove all excuses from Iran and its supporters to say, “We went the extra mile. We gave Iran really, this last chance to show that they are serious when they say they don’t want nuclear weapons.” This is put or shut up time for Iran.

The fact that this whole thing has nothing to do with nuclear weapons at all has not been lost on me, though. We know now – or at least we should know – that Iraq had nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction and everything to do with the petrodollar. Iraq started to trade oil in euros instead of in dollars, and the American economy is propped up by nearly every nation around the world holding lots and lots of dollars in reserve so they can buy oil. We went in and made sure they couldn't switch by installing a friendly government.

Of course, what most Americans don't realize is that Iran wants to switch from dollars to euros. So, folks like Bolton and Condoleeza Rice are raising the spectre of nuclear weapons and making impossible requests (we'll talk to you if you prove you've stopped working on a weapon we can't prove you're working on) so that they can drag some new "coalition" into a new arm of the war on "terror."

Friday, June 02, 2006

America's most pressing priorities

Apparently, Sen. Bill Frist (R-TN), you know, the guy who is our Senate majority leader, has it all figured out. The two most pressing issues in today's America are flag burning and gay marriage (link courtesy of Ex Cathedra).

Seriously, I couldn't make this up if I tried. Well, maybe, but I didn't have to this time.

Amazingly enough, the host of Fox News Sunday, where Frist made this ridiculous claim, called him on it:

You talk about a lot of issues that affect people’s lives. And yet you’re going to bring two constitutional amendments to the Senate floor in the next few weeks, one to ban same-sex marriage, another to ban flag-burning, both reportedly in the papers to mobilize your conservative base. I have to tell you, I talked to a Republican senator this week who said he may vote for both of them but said they’re both pandering.

Yeah, you know. Anything to get Haditha out of the news. And with the mainstream media being as drawn as they are to the so-called "hot button" domestic issues, you can rest assured you won't have to think about Marines killing innocent Iraqi children anymore – at least until next time.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Old protest in Little Beirut

I can't believe I hadn't come across this one before. The Nazi Germany footage is a bit over the top, but everyone should see this video. Contained therein is police footage of a protest in Portland, Oregon, on August 22, 2002 against George Bush's fundraising visit to the Portland Hilton Hotel.

In the words of one of the participants, Don Joughin:

We brought our children to a peaceful protest, we stayed in the back and we were walking on the sidewalk. ... Police quickly moved up behind us and a moment or two later sprayed pepper spray into the crowd from the NE corner of the intersection. the crowd ran toward us to escape the spray. We asked the oficer closest to us how we should exit the intersection. He pointed and said to exit to the NE, into the spraying police opposite him. as the crowd pressed toward us I yelled to him to let us through (south on 2nd) because we had three small children. He looked at me, and drew out his can from his hip and sprayed directly at me. I was at an angle to him and the spray hit my right eye and our three year-old who I was holding in my right arm. In the same motion he turned the can on my wife who was holding our 10 month old baby and doused both of their heads entirely from a distance of less than 3 feet.
Of course, all of this is rather old news by now for anyone who has been paying attention, but if I hadn't heard of the video (or, I'll admit, the protest in question), then I'm sure this will be new to someone else, also.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Stephen Colbert strikes again

Normally I try not to link to things I see linked on multiple other blogs I read, but this one that I saw on 2 Political Junkies and Ex Cathedra, both of whom got their link from Think Progress, is just too good to pass up.

If you look at the Think Progress link, you'll see that Tom DeLay's website for his legal fund is using video of a Colbert Report interview with Robert Greenwald, creator of The Big Buy: Tom DeLay's Stolen Congress and Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Price, as evidence of DeLay's support and innocence.

After Colbert's performance at the 2006 White House Correspondents' Association Dinner, I never thought I'd see another conservative ever point to Colbert as supporting evidence. I guess it just goes to show that conservatives simply do not get satire.

If you, like me, can't get the video on DeLay's website to play, here is an alternate link. You'll need QuickTime installed to play this one.

EDIT: Just noticed on Wired News that Enron's former chief Kenneth Lay was convicted today of conspiracy to commit securities and wire fraud. Sentencing is set for, ironically enough, 9/11.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

John Prine's little stab

Folk/country singer/songwriter John Prine was on Austin City Limits recently and he performed a song entitled "Some Humans Ain't Human" from the album he released last year, Fair and Square, which was his first new album in eight years. This year, the album won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album.

In it, he takes a quick jab at our Chimp-in-Chief:

Or you're feeling your freedom
And the world's off your back
Some hotshot from Texas
Starts his own war in Iraq

Considering that I haven't heard a thing about this on the news, I guess country musicians can take shots at Bush without controversy even in the state of Texas as long as they aren't women. Or popular. Or both.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Additions to the blogroll

I don't know when I mentioned my blogroll last, but I know I've added a few since then. So, I'll give a quick plug to each of the newest three on the list.

MacYapper is Pittsburgh CityPaper columnist and KDKA Radio host John McIntire's official blog. I added it because it's frequently political, and even more frequently funny, just like his radio show. (I have to admit not ever having read his column.)

The Pennsylvania Progressive, written by John Morgan, is another BlogSpot blog. I discovered this blog by looking at a search page that referred to a post on TftM that also referred to a post on his blog. I read a few posts and decided that it was worth a link.

The last addition is Health Insurance Freedom. This is an issue-specific blog (obviously) relating to the Pennsylvania Health Care Solutions Coalition (PHCSC), which is an organization dedicated to bringing true universal health care to the state of Pennsylvania. I didn't even realize it, but there is currently a bill in the state Senate to this effect, and it is apparently scheduled to move to the state House on June 7. Those who want to see this plan become a reality should thank Sen. Jim Ferlo from Natrona Heights, a former 14-year Pittsburgh city councilman and two-term council president, for introducing the bill.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Trouble sitting down

Well, of the four candidates I mentioned in my last post, only one actually prevailed in his primary. Currently, there are 98% of Pennsylvania precincts reporting, so that's plenty to make calls.

Chuck Pennacchio, the candidate about whom I felt most strongly, received about 9% of the votes in the Democratic senate primary. When compared with Bob Casey's 84.5%, it's pretty sad, although he did (meaninglessly) outdraw Alan Sandals. This one's almost enough to make me go back to third-party hell – I'm of the opinion that the only reason Pennacchio failed to win is that the Democratic leadership in Pennsylvania is mindlessly idiotic when it comes to picking their "chosen" pre-primary candidate, and so rather than Chuck winning on the issues, Casey won on his name and his funding. Of course, that doesn't really excuse the general public from their civic duty of researching candidates before they vote, but it's well known and probably eternal that the general public just doesn't and won't ever care enough to make an intelligent decision on their own. I'll vote for Casey in November, but I can't guarantee that I won't vomit on the voting machine in the process. Also, I'll make a November prediction now: Santorum will repeat in the November general election. Mark my words.

For Lieutenant Governor, incumbent Catherine Baker Knoll, despite her myriad shortcomings on the job, walked all over my chosen challenger Valerie McDonald Roberts, 61% to 20%. Knoll was able to overcome endorsements for Valerie by both the Philadelphia Inquirer and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Despite leading early after the polls closed, Georgia Berner was unable to defeat Jason Altmire in the primary for the 4th Congressional District. This was, at least, a close race, but to tell the truth I wasn't wedded to either candidate. A single seat in the U.S. House just doesn't mean as much as a single seat in the Senate, and neither candidate really jumped out at me. I've heard that Altmire has a better chance to defeat Melissa Hart in the fall, so that's fine; Altmire it is.

My only success story comes in the 27-vote victory margin for Jaret Gibbons in the race for Pennsylvania's 10th Legislative District. Jaret successfully made Frank LaGrotta a lame-duck representative. LaGrotta was a reasonably progressive canditate and wrote at least one article for The Nation, but his increasing arrogance on the job and his attitude of being bulletproof were enough to bump him from his seat. Jaret's only 25 years old and, about to graduate from Pitt's law school, and, if I may say so, a smart kid. Now he needs only to defeat Chuck Morse, his Republican competitor, in November in a heavily Democratic district.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Letter in the Post-Gazette

So, a week or so ago, in a fit of pique after seeing that the Post-Gazette had endorsed Bob Casey in the Democratic primary race for the Senate seat currently held by Rick Santorum, I tossed off a letter to the editor. It ran on Sunday (not only did it run, but it led the list of letters for the week), and since I wrote the thing, I'm not about to ask permission to quote it here:

I cannot for the life of me understand why the Post-Gazette editorial staff would endorse Bob Casey in the U.S. Senate Democratic primary race. You listed name recognition as his greatest asset. Sure, that's a nice thing to have, but what about the issues, guys? Don't you think the Democratic voters would rather have someone who is pro-choice, who is against the war in Iraq, who is against the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons, who doesn't have to pay back his contributors with votes once in office, and who can set a new standard for Democratic leadership in Washington?

The only person who can possibly change the Democratic party for the better in Washington, and the only person who can possibly take Rick Santorum to task for his transgressions against the American people is Chuck Pennacchio. I have met the man, and there isn't a more qualified or more honest man running for Senate in the entire country, let alone in this particular race.

He is my choice, and he should have been yours, too.

Another letter from one of Chuck's volunteer coordinators, Henry Lipput, ran in the same edition.

I'm going to be standing outside my polling center on Tuesday, handing out pamphlets, but I have to admit that I'm feeling discouraged about the whole thing. It seems unthinkable to me at this point that any candidate who takes a progressive stance will ever win anything of use.

For what it's worth, however, my other votes will go to Valerie McDonald Roberts in the PA Lieutenant Governor race, Georgia Berner in the race for the 4th Congressional District (U.S. House, the seat Melissa Hart currently has), and Jaret Gibbons in the 10th Legislative District in the PA House (the seat that Frank LaGrotta currently has).

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Chuck Pennacchio yard sign

First come first serve: one Chuck Pennacchio yard sign that I can't figure out where to put. If you or someone you know can use one and can get it from me and put it up before the primary on May 16, you're welcome to it. Just comment here. (For those of you reading a syndicated feed, please comment at the actual location of the post so that I will receive e-mail notification.)


Supplemental spending

A friend of mine requested that I comment on the article on supplemental spending found here on CNN.

Supplemental spending is a tricky subject. An easy reaction would be that all extra-budget expenditures are unnecessary and serve as examples of today's Congress and their appetite for pork. I have a difficult time, however, complaining about an extra $60 million to help Darfur, for example.

Unfortunately, it seems to be the case more often than not that certain senators want to spend $200 million of our money to help bail out a certain defense contractor – which, by the way, just so happens to be from their home state – whose insurance company won't cover losses from Hurricane Katrina, well, now that gets my dander up a bit. Did I mention that Northrop Grumman just so happens also to be a significant contributor to Trent Lott's campaign?

Okay, so that may be a bit of a tangent, but pork like that can only serve to show the extent to which money dominates politics today. We do have a chance to change that, but it will only happen if people get angry (which they are) and pay attention (which, well, they aren't).

Friday, April 28, 2006

MSNBC poll numbers and Karl Rove

My apologies for the lack of updates. Nothing like killing one's own readership, huh?

Anyway, according to this poll at, as of 2:09 AM Eastern Daylight Time on Friday, April 28, 2006, 86% of over 260,000 voters say that Yes, between the secret spying, the deceptions leading to war and more, there is plenty to justify putting [President Bush] on trial. MSNBC isn't exactly the People's Weekly World after all, but I suppose we have to keep in mind that the poll probably doesn't exclude votes originating from IP addresses that belong to other countries, so the results will be skewed somewhat toward the impeachment option. Of course, the nutters in this country are likely the only ones who would vote no...

And in other news, also on MSNBC, apparently Karl Rove didn't really like his experience in front of a grand jury. Poor guy. Perhaps he should refrain from perjuring himself in front of them. Maybe then they wouldn't be so eager to call him back for repeat visits. That grand jury plans to meet again today (Friday), and an indictment is almost surely forthcoming, though possibly not as soon as today.

In a way, all of this is very interesting and nearly exciting to me. I was not yet born when Nixon's administration self-destructed while everyone was watching, so I'm not really familiar with the timetable on these sorts of things. Truth be told, though, in my own self interest, the more of these guys that go down in flames, the better. This country needs to adopt a similar "never again" mindset that Germany had after World War II. With so many of the same people working in government now that we had in positions of power during the Nixon administration,
I don't think it's entirely unreasonable to expect, in the fallout of this administration, to see a semi-permanent leftward shift in the politics of this country. We'll still have our xenophobes and wingnuts, of course; every country has some of those. But perhaps, finally, we'll see a modernization of this country's attitude toward social democracy.

A guy can dream, can't he?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Hammer keeps going

In a move borne of what could only be either colossal stupidity or amazing loyalty, Tom DeLay, the money, I mean, the alleged money launderer, won the Republican primary election in Texas for his House seat.

DeLay, 58, held on to his ballot position by avoiding public discussions of his considerable political problems _ a felony money-laundering indictment, close ties to lobbyist Jack Abramoff and the loss of his leadership position.

Instead, DeLay campaigned at carefully orchestrated events, avoided direct interviews with reporters and largely focused on his hometown of Sugar Land. It paid off with a 2-to-1 victory margin over lawyer Tom Campbell, who had ties to the first President Bush's administration, and two other candidates.
You know, sometimes words fail me. This is almost one of those times, but I just had to mention that at least Ohio voters had the good sense to get rid of Rep. Jim Traficant, who ran as an independent after he was sent to a federal prison in White Deer, Pennsylvania. (That he still received 15% of the vote in that election amazes me, though.)

Friday, March 03, 2006

Yessiree, the USA PATRIOT Act is nothing to be afraid of...

Unless you happen to have some credit card debt, that is. Yes, really.

This is what they call in the television and radio news biz a "teaser"...

[Walter and Deana Soehnge] paid down some debt. The balance on their JCPenney Platinum MasterCard had gotten to an unhealthy level. So they sent in a large payment, a check for $6,522.

And an alarm went off. A red flag went up. The Soehnges' behavior was found questionable.

And all they did was pay down their debt. They didn't call a suspected terrorist on their cell phone. They didn't try to sneak a machine gun through customs.

They just paid a hefty chunk of their credit card balance. And they learned how frighteningly wide the net of suspicion has been cast.

Read the rest if you think you're safe from investigation. Read it even if you don't.

(Found originally at J. Francis Lehman's blog.)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

A civic duty

I feel that I would be remiss if I did not pass this along. It is, originally, from and it's been slightly edited, not for content, but just to stick the links inline with the text rather than putting them on separate lines.

I'm not sure if you've heard, but President Bush has been exposed as a liar. It's because of video footage just released by the Associated Press that proves he deceived the public when he claimed to have had no idea what Katrina could do.

I've joined's campaign to call on Congress to censure the President for misleading the American people.

The day before Hurricane Katrina hit, experts personally warned Bush about the coming disaster. He knew the levees might fail, and he knew the Superdome might not be safe. But he did nothing.

Four days later, Bush pretended that there was no way to know the devastation Katrina would bring. He said, "I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." While Bush failed to act, 1,300 people died, and thousands more suffered unimaginable trauma and loss.

It's unacceptable. Using the website, I just sent a letter to my representatives in Congress demanding that they censure President Bush. This means Congress would officially denounce the President for his failure to protect the people of the Gulf Coast – and his failure to be honest about it afterwards.

I wanted you to know about this effort, and wanted to invite you to join me. It's easy, and together we can make a big difference. Just click here:


There are more details in this New York Times article. It seems that former head of FEMA Michael Brown really may have been a scapegoat after all.

All of this just makes me absolutely sick. Perhaps after I've let it sink in for a bit, I can post up more details for those who don't feel like reading other articles.

More on the issue that just won't die

Two more interesting connections between Dubai Ports World and the Bush administration that just came before me today.

Secretary of Treasury John Snow was the chairman of CSX, which, as I stated in a previous post, sold its port services to DPW for $1.15 billion in 2004. Also, David Sanborn, who leads the US Maritime Administration, runs DPW's European and Latin American arms.

According to the preceding link to the San Jose Mercury News,

"It always raises flags" when administration officials have ties to a firm, Rep. Vito Fossella, R-N.Y., said, but insisted that stopping the deal was more important.

The New York Daily News has learned that lawmakers also want to know if a detailed 45-day investigation should have been conducted instead of one that lasted no more than 25 days.

According to a 1993 congressional measure, the longer review is mandated when the company is owned by a foreign government and the purchase "could result in control of a person engaged in interstate commerce in the U.S. that could affect the national security of the U.S."
All of this has been taking a toll on GOP support for President Bush. From the Washington Post:

The first heading on the issues page of Rep. Mark Foley's Web site brags that he is "one of President Bush's strongest supporters in Congress." The Florida Republican voted for the president's legislation 90 percent of the time, according to the Web site, "the 3rd highest ranking among the Florida delegation."

Now the Florida delegation's third-strongest Bush supporter is on the front lines of the Republican revolt against the president on the deal to turn over key operations at six U.S. ports to a United Arab Emirates company. Republicans who once marched in lock step behind their president on national security are increasingly willing to challenge him in an area considered his political strength.
Of course, I can't help but think that their distance from Bush has nothing to do with a sudden grip on morality and everything to do with looming elections, but then again, nobody has ever accused me of not being cynical.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Plummeting polls and false alarms

A day late and a dollar short as usual, I opened up Sunday's Forum section of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette on Monday and I was delighted when I looked at Jack Kelly's usual spot and saw a different name topping an anti-war column. I thought that perhaps the editors finally tired of Kelly's insultingly inaccurate (and, well, insulting) columns. Needless to say, though, that when I flipped back to the top of the page, I was disappointed to see that his column was simply moved to the side where Ann McFeatters's column usually resides. (Insert a big sigh here.)

At any rate, the real purpose of this short post is to say that I saw, via 2 Political Junkies, that our lovely president's approval rating has dropped all the way to 34% according to a CBS News poll. This marks the lowest that statistic has been, at least for Dubya. Apparently as well, his disapproval rating is an incredible 59% according to the accompanying .pdf file, which is actually a pretty good read overall if you're not a big fan of the Bush administration.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Just when I thought it was safe...

Safe to stop talking about the Dubai Ports World situation, that is. Firstly, I have to state that I've fixed a misstatement in my last post dealing with the UAE issue. I said that Dubai is the capital of the United Arab Emirates, but that's not true. Abu Dhabi is the capital; Dubai is "just" a major port in that country (tenth largest port in the world), and probably a more familiar name in this country due to the annual golf tournament there.

In any case, there are a few more interesting tidbits relating to the Dubai Ports World deal.

Apparently, a sheik from the United Arab Emirates donated at least $1 million in the early 1990s to the foundation that would establish George H. W. Bush's presidential library at Texas A&M University. I don't really know how relevant that is to this situation, but it's certainly an interesting thickening of the plot.

Also, a story ran in my local paper about a secret pact that the Bush administration had with Dubai Ports World that would keep the US government from imposing routine restrictions on the company. Normally when a foreign company buys an American company and takes control, the business records remain on American soil where they are subject to court orders, and the company is required to "designate an American citizen to accommodate requests by the government." The Bush administration required neither of Dubai Ports World, which is highly irregular.

Lastly, apparently last year, this same company, without much in the way of ballyhoo, bought out the CSX Corporation, which runs ports here and, possibly even more importantly, trains that connect to 23 states.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

My votes are spiralling the drain

My county, the county of Lawrence in Pennsylvania, has decided to avail themselves of their federal grant money for new voting machines and comply with the Help America Vote Act. This is not, in itself, a bad thing. In the past, the voters in this county were just about as old-fashioned as old-fashioned could be; we darkened ovals on a sheet of paper. Granted, that paper was then scanned through a machine much like multiple choice tests are in schools, but it was still ovals with a pencil and paper.

So, upgrading and modernizing isn't a horrible idea. I don't really have a problem with that method of voting, but it's not as if I am married to it. However, when upgrading to new methods of voting, one should take care that the new method is a safe one.

This is where the county and, indeed, the Pennsylvania Department of State failed. The PADoS failed because they have not certified any voting machine that leaves a paper trail even though such machines are available and reliable. So, in making the decision to comply, the Lawrence County commissioners paid $867,415 for 275 iVotronic electronic voting machines from Election Systems and Services out of Omaha, NE, that may not actually tabulate the votes properly as they are cast, and the voter will have neither any idea that it's happening nor any recourse if it does, as there is no possible way to retrieve a vote after it is recorded.

Needless to say, this bugs me. How can I have any confidence at all to go to the polling center and be sure that my votes are, first of all, being counted at all, and then going to the person I'm trying to choose? I can't. I just can't. Having written programs, having spent way too much time around computers, I know that there is just no way to assume safely that a computer is going to do what you expect it to do.

Let's just say that the sole county commissioner who voted against these new machines will retain my vote when it comes time for their re-election. I don't know and don't care what party he belongs to at this point.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

And everything starts coming together

In the Douglas Adams Dirk Gently series of books, Dirk has a belief in the "funamental interconnectedness of all things." While this concept was developed purely for the sake of humor, it is interesting to note how often things in real life mirror the absurdities of humorous fictional novels.

For instance, let's go back to 1999. The future president's (embarrassing) brother, Neil Bush, started an educational software company, Ignite! Incorporated, whose purpose was to help kids in school attain higher scores on standardized tests. (The effectiveness of the program and the material within are not within the scope of this post, but let me just say that I'm not particularly crazy about it.)

After 19 men flew planes into buildings in September of 2001, Neil took his plan for Ignite! overseas to Dubai, a major port of the United Arab Emirates. (Are you seeing yet where I'm going with this?) In my last post, you'll see that the United Arab Emirates had a lot to do with the 19 men flying planes into buildings. Apparently this didn't bother Neil at all, and secured lots of investment from people in Dubai and in Saudi Arabia.

Let's backtrack, now. Wayne Madsen's July 22, 2002 article contained the following (meaning this part isn't new news, either):

Reconstructed liberal and progressive journalists throw around the "C word" (conspiracy) to detract from those who write about the massive evidence that points to the Bushes having traded the nation's economic well-being and national security for personal profit. Grandfather Bush, Prescott, certainly did this during World War II when his investments included companies that supported Nazi Germany's war effort.

Now we have Neil Bush, from Silverado Savings and Loan infamy, cutting deals all over the Middle East using Daddy's and Dubya's business and political connections in that part of the world. And why shouldn't he? Dubya did this with a lucrative pipeline deal in Argentina for Enron in 1989 when he was pimping for Enron and Daddy was in the White House gearing up for a war with Iraq, another act that would eventually line the pockets of the Bushes.

Brisard and Dasquie provide concrete evidence how this same self-serving approach to business permitted the Taliban to negotiate with senior members of the Bush administration on a lucrative pipeline deal just weeks prior to the al Qaeda terrorists slamming commercial jetliners into the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. It's the same mind set that in 1990 convinced U.S. ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie to tell Sadaam Hussein that the Bush I administration had no interest in his inter-Arab border dispute involving Kuwait. We now all know why the Bush family had no great interest in that "minor" dispute. They made a fortune from it, along with then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, whose Halliburton company helped rebuild the oil infrastructures of both Kuwait and Iraq.

So now, with the family's die cast, we have Neil in the UAE dealing with the people who helped 19 men fly planes into buildings, and these are the people who now want to help...educate...our kids? Now, wait a minute. What? That is entirely unbelievable, that fundamentalist Islamic states such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates would want to help American kids learn better in our public education system. (My guess is that it had to do with access to the American government through the president's brother, but proof is short.)

At any rate, in 2002, President George W. Bush's pet project No Child Left Behind, which made heavy use of – you guessed it – standardized tests, was implemented at the federal level. At this point, I'm still just barely willing to believe that it's just a coincidence. Bush the president pushing a well-intentioned but widely-panned educational plan that would just happen to allow Bush the brother to make a bit more cash? Well, it's a convenient allegation. Let's not forget, though, that after GWB got his wish with the educational plan, he threw lots of money at it without much result.

Now, though, we have the issue of our government handing the security of our ports over to the United Arab Emirates, the very people who helped to fund the 19 people who flew planes into buildings, and the very people who helped the president's brother keep his software company afloat.

Now, I realize that this is the sort of series of connections that James Burke (of Connections fame) would be proud of, but what are the chances that the UAE has finagled a way for the Bushes to feel as if they have no choice but to sell our security out from under us? Hmm...

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Letting foxes into henhouses

When I see something that's glaringly obvious (like the nose on Jamie Farr's face), usually it doesn't take much explaining. One would think that letting a country that is known to launder money for terrorist organizations take control of six seaports in the United States would fall under that category.

The United Arab Emirates government owns the company Dubai Ports World, which, due to a merger with a company in London, will take control of ports in New York City, Baltimore, New Jersey, Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Miami. The UAE is a well-known refuge for those who wish to fight for the insurgency in Iraq, and money for the attacks on September 11, 2001, came through the UAE's banks.

I mean, as far as I'm concerned, American ports should remain in American hands. Being owned by a London-based company was bad enough, but now we are handing over the security of our eastern ports to the very people who look the other way when known terrorists set up shop within their borders.

Thankfully, there's a bill in the works that would block the sale. In a rare show of sanity, apparently Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA) has written to the White House to air his objections.

Unsurprisingly, thus far, the Bush administration is staying its course.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Leave it to Lynn (Swann)

Lynn Swann, Hall of Fame former wide receiver with the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Republican hopeful for governor of Pennsylvania, since moving into Allegheny County, missed 20 of the 36 possible votes in 18 years. Normally, I wouldn't think this to be a huge issue. Voting is a choice we have either to take or to dismiss, and if he had a reason for ignoring the opportunity to vote, then so be it. Perhaps it was a protest.

But, no. It seems that Swannie claims that he missed so many votes because he was traveling to other states for ABC Sports. This doesn't really explain why he bothered with three absentee ballots, though. If he thought it was worth his time for those three, why not for any of the others? He refused to explain that.

The most troubling part of this whole situation, though, is that Swannie had to go and be a hypocrite about it on top of dodging questions. In an October 2004 interview with the Florida Sun-Sentinel in Fort Lauderdale, he said, "I have always been someone to believe that when you have certain freedoms, you should exercise them and not take it for granted. If you don't take part in the process and you don't vote, then I am not willing to listen to your complaints."

So, I guess, if those of us who care that our candidates for office are serious about the posts they look to fill cause him to lose the election, he won't be willing to listen to himself complain about it.

When history repeats itself

With seemingly everyone else in the known universe talking about Dick Cheney's hunting accident this past Saturday, I guess it's only right that I toss in my two cents on the matter.

When I first heard about it, it was only a passing comment that said something about the vice president going around shooting people, and I dismissed it as a rather twisted attempt at humor. Later, of course, I found out just how wrong I was. Dick Cheney, the VPOTUS himself, shot a guy in the face. (And chest.) Of course, this sort of thing happened once before, but that one was on purpose.

What gets me about this whole situation, though, is that a) the story was so hush-hush to start with, and b) the story doesn't seem to match up to the incident report. In section VI, "Miscellaneous Factors", the game warden marked the box for "flat" topography. In all the stories I've heard of the incident, Whittington was said to be in a low spot, a depression, a gully, or something of that nature. I'm not sure why someone would make that up. After all, if the guy was in a depression and Cheney was firing at a flushed and flying bird, I imagine the physics involved in pellet spray wouldn't send many downward at that sort of angle, so flat terrain only makes sense.

The next question mark comes with section III, information about the shooter and victim. Both are marked as violating "P & W Code 43.652". I haven't heard much about that, but that's probably because it turns out that they were missing a stamp or somesuch for hunting quail, and they wouldn't have even received a fine for that anyway. Moving along...back to the first issue.

Cheney waited 18 hours to report the incident. That's a bit of an odd period of time to wait, and he still hasn't been forthright as to why he waited so long. If it was an innocent accident, he shouldn't have had anything to worry about, and the matter would've been closed fairly quickly aside from the late-night talk show hosts' cracks at his expense. But on Wednesday it came out that he had at least a beer at lunch the day of the shooting. Now, for most people, a beer or two at lunch wouldn't cause any issues at 5:00 in the evening, when the incident was supposed to have occurred. However, with Cheney, who is apparently heavily medicated for his heart condition, one has to wonder how much his pills may have amplified the effects of the alcohol he had drunk earlier in the day.

There is a positive we can take from all of this, though. Whittington, who is now partially made of lead, will probably make a good recovery once the surgical scars heal, and his heart rhythm is back to normal already.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

A little background

I think that is a good website for illustrating where you sit on the political spectrum. My personal numbers are -8.88 on economic left/right and -6.00 on social libertarian/authoritarian (those numbers being toward left and libertarian, respectively). But it seems that every time I take that questionnaire, I move further to the left. I've just decided to allow myself to admit that socialism is a fantastic idea, and when I say socialism, I do not mean the garbage that passed for socialism in the Soviet Union.

At any rate, my assertion is that Democratic and Republican politicians (note: not necessarily the average member of each party!) really aren't all that different, and that website seems to vindicate that statement. According to that graph, the only people in the 2004 United States presidential race who were in my quadrant – the libertarian left – were the Green Party's David Cobb, the independent (or Reform Party, depending on your state) Ralph Nader, and the Socialist Party USA's Walt Brown. Of the major party candidates, nobody's voting record was even close to what I would consider ideal. This leaves me with a distinct feeling of being completely disenfranchised, but it also leaves me with a perfect launching point for a blog. (This is where you cheer.)