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).