The Pennsylvania Progressive

The Pennsylvania Progressive discusses progressive politics, issues, and candidates with a particular emphasis on Pennsylvania. All rights reserved. We have moved so please click on a link below.

Friday, June 30, 2006

Alberto You're Doing a Heckuva Job

Attorney General Alberto Gonzales has been seriously repudiated by yesterday's Supreme Court decision. As responsible as George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice are for gross and willful violations of international law are, they were based upon the expert legal opinions of Alberto Gonzales. Billmon writes a great article about their legal liability under international law and it's some good writing. I can already see their defenses though: but our lawyer said it was all legal your honor!

We all know what lawyer wrote the torture memo and provided his expert legal opinions that the Geneva Conventions were "quaint." It was the man who now sits as the foremost lawyer in the nation: Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. It is painfully obvious now that he is critically incompetent (my what a shock it is to discover that!). He must do the appropriate thing now and resign. The Supreme Court has rendered his opinions wrong and have determined they resulted in widespread human rights and civil rights violations.

Alberto, you're doing a heckuva job. Now resign.

The Middle Class Squeeze

The Labor Research Association has published some interesting statistics about wages and corporate profits. As you read these numbers recall that Republicans both in Harrisburg and Washington have failed to vote to increase wages for those at the bottom of our economic ladder. They have, however, voted themselves pay raises.

Mercer Consulting has determined that pay for salaried (middle class) workers at 350 companies barely equaled the rate of inflation for 2005. The profit for those companies rose by 23%. The CEO's for those companies, excluding stock, rose 14.5% in 2004 and another 7.1% in 2005.

Mercer also calculated that the Fortune 500 companies added just 2% more emploees as their revenues increased 10.2% and profits increased 18.8%.

Average worker incomes in this period rose at an average of 3.5%, barely ahead of inflation.

What do these numbers mean? It means the American middle class is working harder for less and companies are cashing in for very nice profits. It means as workers are being asked to work longer hours for less real pay and at increasing rates of productivity, corporate America isn't sharing the fruits of that labor with them. Remember these figures do not reflect any stock or stock options awarded to CEO's. The obscenely huge pay packages being awarded to CEO's of late reflect this dichotomy. The middle class is under attack and corporations are firing the guns.

The quest for profit at any expense is actually stupid. Reducing the middle class translates into smaller markets for your goods and services. Consumers need disposable income to spend for anything more than the essentials. Our economy this decade was partly fueled by homeowners cashing in the equity in their homes and using the funds for spending. Now, as mortgage rates increase and energy costs gulp more of a family's budget there is less and less money for Play Stations, Impalas, and plasma televisions. Those economic dollars are drying up.

It's time to remember the workers. It's time to stop destroying the middle class. It's time for unions to adapt to changing conditions and its time to elect legislators willing to allow unions fair and level playing fields for organzing workers. History has illustrated it is unionized workforces that made the middle class and only good, honest, effective unions can reverse this current slide. I've seen some pretty ineffective unions and some unwilling or unable to adapt to new conditions. Let's hope they can get their acts together in time to preserve our middle class.

$10.86/gallon Gasoline

While researching an article on energy for America Votes I tripped across testimony given to the Senate Foereign Relations Committee that jolted me. This evidence was given by the President of the National Defense Council Foundation, Milton R. Copulos. The testimony, given this past March 30th, pegs the real cost of a gallon of gasoline at $10.86. Let's take a look at the method Mr. Copulos used to reach this conclusion. It's rather eye opening.

The first thing we need to do is recognize and accept the real reason George W. Bush invaded Iraq (as mr. Copulos has). We all know it wasn't for the reasons publicly aired: weapons of mass destruction, ties to Al Qaeda, responsibility for the attacks of September 11th, the noble cause of spreading democracy. No, we all realize it was to seize control of Iraq's oil in light of sharply increasing global demand for petroleum.

According to Mr. Copulos "China alone has accounted for 40 percent of the total increase in world oil consumption over the past several years." Economic expansion in India and Eastern Europe have also increased demand for oil. Faced with sharply increasing demand for a military ever more dependent on petroleum, the United States made a strategic decision to seize control of Iraq and secure the world's second largest producer of oil for its own economy and defense. In fact, according to the United Nations Security Council, the United States insured that the new Iraqi constitution guarantees a major role for foreign oil companies within that country. What more needs to be said?

Therefore Copulos concludes that we must calculate the cost of the war in Iraq along with the all other costs to determine its real price. He calculates the "hidden cost" of oil in 2003 at $304.9 billion. This escalated to $779.5 billion in 2005. He then figures these costs into the per barrel cost and translates that to a pump price of $10.86/gallon. You can read his testimony for the full explanation.

It also seems to me he's omitting one other hidden cost. That would be the interest. Since President Bush is refusing to raise taxes to pay for this war it is being financed via deficit spending. The Treasury Bonds issued to finance the war are also costing the average American. This is an additional cost unaccounted for even in Copulos' figures.

Here's an interesting irony: we invaded Iraq to gain control of its oil partly because of the rapidly expanding economy of China which, in turn, is being fueled by cheap imports manufactured there for the American market. That war is also being financed by China through its purchase of U.S. Treasury Bonds. Americans are losing good jobs to China and, as a result, are paying through the nose at the pump. Their taxes will, someday, have to rise sharply to repay the interest on the massive debt being amassed by the costs of this war, further eroding their purchasing power. Not only have they lost their jobs to China at some point they will lose their savings and their capital to them.

All so they can drive their Suburbans, Expeditions, Hummers and Explorers.

All this mumbo jumbo reminds me of an old axiom: what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive.

Reading Needs Help. Where's the Pitts?

This week's flooding in Reading was serious. An entire sector of the city was flooded, water running through Riverfront Park, Reading Area Community College, and hundreds of residents had to be evacuated. That entire part of Readingis in the 16th Congressional District. Joe Pitts' District. Where is the Congressman? He has yet to issue any comment on the devastated area or done anything to support hose constituents flooded out of their homes.

Perhaps Mr. Pitts doesn't know this area is in his District. That could be since he does so little for these people. He won't even staff a full time office in Berks County. I have a few suggestions for everyone in Reading along the Schuylkill: first ask Joe for help and, second, remember your absentee Congressman when you vote for Lois Herr on November 7th. Berks County went for Lois with over 60% of the vote in 2004 and this illustrates why.

Will U.S. Withdraw from Geneva Conventions?

Since the Supreme Court held that America must abide by the treaties it has signed and the laws it has passed Congress has been in an uproar. Republicans are shouting that Congress must now act to make these unconstitutional violations legal. Expect a lot of posturing and the intoduction of new laws to legalize programs about which Congress doesn't know much. This is extremely reckless. Let's at least have investigations and inquiries to discover exactly what is being done in our names before legalizing all of it. It scares me to think how many more programs are still secret.

Since the gross violations of human rights struck down yesterday involve many provisions of the Geneva Conventions we are faced with limited choices. We can close Guantanamo, stop extraordinary renditions, close our secret gulags, cease all torture, or we can withdraw from the Conventions and all other international treaties prohibiting the violation of human rights. I wonder which it will be? Remember this is an Administration which refused to join the international criminal court. Good thing too, considering all the war crimes they've committed.

Of course we could also begin impeachment proceedings, replace the criminals and begin upholding our laws and international obligations. We could once again be a beacon for human rights and make Lady Liberty proud.

My bet is we'll withdraw. Make sure your loved ones don't join the military once that happens. We've already been what happens to our soldiers when we violate the human rights of our foes. Ask the families of those servicemen who were kidnapped, tortured and beheaded. We sunk to the level of our foes and in the process we lost our soul. It pains me to see what America has become.

Rush Visits Humpback Beach?

Crooks and Liars has great footage of Robin Williams on The Tonight Show talking about Rush Limbaugh's Viagra Vacation. This is hilarious. He asks why Rush needed Viagra on an "all boys vacation and asks if they went to "Humpback Beach." Good question Rush. Why did you need Viagra?

The Rule of Law

Yesterday's Supreme Court decision was momentous for several reasons. It upheld the basic premise that all persons are imbued with human rights and that this country cannot unilaterally violate its own laws and international laws. It is a victory for the rule of law. Five Justices struck down the notion that this government can arbitrarily decide which laws and treaties it will obey. This also means that Bush's signing statements, domestic spying programs, and heaven knows what else they've been up to is all illegal.

It means we are a nation of laws and they intend to preserve that tradition. Shocking was the fact that Justices Scalia, Thomas and Alito disagree. Well, not so shocking. I've yet to see evidence that any of them believe in the rule of law. Chief Justice Roberts voted to nullify the rule of law when this case was before him at the Appeals level.

Why even have a legislative or judicial branch if the "Unitary Executive" has all power? Why are we even going through the charade of electing a Senator and Representatives if the President can do as he pleases by issuing "signing statement?" Perhaps this is what Republicans actually want but I'll wager it isn't what Americans want. If the Commander in Chief has power to do whatever he wishes we no longer have the rule of law but the rule of one man (or woman when Hilary wins). I wonder what these wingnuts will think about about all these abuses when it's a Democrat in the White House spying on their phone calls examining their financial transactions and sending FBI agents to their political meetings?

If we cease to be a nation of laws we go in either of two directions: anarchy or dictatorship. This is why this decision was so important and why I'm so dismayed that three (four if Chief Justice Roberts had voted) Justices voted against upholding the rule of law. If you don't think this fall's elections are important keep this in mind. Only we, as voters, can exercise final say and we have that right at the ballot box.

Of course there are also lots of questions whether the new computerized voting machines will register those votes accurately or without fraud so this is also a critical matter. Contact Pedro Cortes (Secretary of State) and Governor Rendell with your concerns on this matter. November's election is too important to risk your votes not being counted as you cast them. Demand answers about the process. The rule of law is at risk of being overturned with one more Supreme Court Justice appointed by George W. Bush. We're teetering on the brink.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Random Thoughts

I'm getting fed up with some people who think they can insipidly waste my time and others'. This morning I sat through a third meeting of our Board of Elections where a township supervisor candidate again accused his opponent in last year's election of perjury. Aside from the fact this charge is impossible to prove, he has no tangible evidence, and he's simply pursuing a personal vendetta. I can't imagine why we'd be ticked about the hours he's spent beating this dead horse.... If I counted all the time all of us have sat through this when far more important work could have been getting accomplished I could spit. Some people make you ashamed to be a Democrat.

I hate all these chain and franchises taking over our towns. Soon you won't be able to tell what town you're in. Every store and restaurant will be chains. Check that "welcome to" sign so you know where you are. Because of this I try to eat at locally owned restaurants. I tried one for lunch today but had to leave because the booth was so small the table was jabbing into my chest. I'm sorry but I refuse to eat lunch while being tortured. Next I tried one of those chain buffet places but the entire parking lot was being repaved. Now I was getting hungry so I pulled into the next restaurant I found, an Appleby's. After sitting at a table that was so dirty my magazine was sticking to it my sandwich arrived only partly cooked. Raw chicken just isn't my thing. I ate some of the fries then asked for the check when the waiter came around. Eleven bucks for some fries....I'm rather confident that's the last visit I'll ever make to Appleby's.

The flooding here was quite serious yesterday. ABC News even did a live report from Reading. As bad as it was the projects initiated after Agnes in 1972 did wonders to forestall a catastrophe. Good, smart planning proves that good government is possible and a reality. Much potential damage was averted. On the other hand we drove up to Leaser lake in Lehigh County where the dam is still unusable because the state has been remiss in doing repairs. The flooding downstream was severe with lots of damage. The pictures I posted last evening were of this area. We saw a lot of homes inundated with water that might have have been contained in what is, basically, an empty lake.

I'm working on an article for America Votes so my posting here will be light today and tomorrow. I'll cross post it here after it goes up at their website.

War Veterans Paying for VA Incompetence

As we learn more and more about the total incompetence of the Bush Administration the latest examples shouldn't shock us. Somehow though they continue to do so. Recently 26 million veterans learned their personal information was compromised when a VA computer was stolen. The employee was terminated by the Veterans Administration for using the laptop to work from home.

Now today we learned the computer was recovered. Meanwhile we have also learned the employee terminated had permission to work from home with the data and President Bush has authorized $160 million in budget cuts to pay for the fiasco. This includes $29 million for the VA. So spending for veterans programs is being cut to pay for the costs associated with this computer loss. A federal employee was terminated because some official stupidly allowed him to take the computer home.

Is there nothing this White House can do? Any agency they can run professionally? Pretty soon I'm going to think it's all a plan to convince the public that there's no such thing as good government.

The Supremes!

The Supremes slapped El Presidente right in the kisser today by saying:

President Bush overstepped his authority in ordering military war crimes
trials for Guantanamo Bay detainees, saying ... that the trials were illegal
under U.S. and international law.

It was a broad defeat for the government, which two years ago suffered a
similar loss when the high court held the president lacked authority to seize
and detain terrorism suspects and indefinitely deny them access to courts or

Can you guess what's coming next? Here's the headline "Bush says the Supreme Court is overrun with Activist Judges". Well that's ALWAYS the answer right? Those 'Activist Judges' are at it again...protecting human and civil rights.

No doubt a proposal will be put forward for an Amendment to the Constitution outlawing the Supreme Court and permitting unlimited Presidential Authority in any matter even remotely related to the war on terror.

Or maybe the VEEP will just invite the Activist Supremes to accompany him on his next hunting trip.


Hamdan v. Rumsfeld

The Supreme Court agreed with human rights advocates the world over that American kangaroo trials at Guantanamo violate international treaties, including the Geneva Conventions. The fact that even basic civil rights and judicial protections for fair trials are nonexistent at these military tribunals is unAmerican. It isn't what what this country stands for or what we are fighting for. For more information about these trials listen to this interview with one of the lawyers involved. Why are we fighting for democratic ideals when we're so quick to flush ours down the toilets of Guantanamo?

Today's decision is a victory for human rights. If Congress wants to retroactively legalize all the abuses being committed by this White House why don't they simply revoke all our international treaties and the remainder of the Bill of Rights they haven't already rendered null and void. Why isn't this Congress exercising any oversight and holding anyone accountable? They are beginning to remind me of the old Soviet Duma.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006


I took a few pictures today of some flooding in the area. These are of the Maiden Creek. Notice the "Duck Crossing" sign. Today they could swim across.

The Irresponsible New York Times

Washington, D.C.

President George W. Bush lashed out this week against the New York Times for printing articles jeopardizing our national security. He was furious over stories written by Judith Miller repeating propaganda given to her by Administration and defense department sources inflating fictitious reports about Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction. Bush says this irresponsible reporting resulted in his having to invade Iraq and led to a disatsrous occupation costing thousands of American lives and hundreds of billions of dollars.

The White House says the hysteria for invading Iraq began because of these front page articles. He says it got so loud he could not ignore the cires for war emanating from every American community after they learned of this spurious intelligence. Now he's accusing the New York Times of treason and calling for the newspaper to close.

Efforts to ask Bush why he allowed his Administration and White House staffers to leak this false information in order to stoke war fever went unanswered. He also refused to answer questions as to why Karl Rove and Lewis Libby sacrificed national security directly from his White House by revealing the identity of Valerie Plame, an undercover CIA operative.

Jason Altmire PA-4

After posting a short article reminding Pennsylvania's progressive voters to support our candidates before the end of the quarterly reporting period the blog got quite a few hits from people supporting Jason Altmire. I decided to get a bit more familiar with him by doing an article. While perusing his website I see most of the good positions we progressives seek to determineif someone is really progressive. While somewhat weak on healthcare (HR 676 folks!!!) I really like what he says about Iraq:

President Bush and Vice President Cheney have led this country into war based upon facts that were simply untrue. There were no weapons of mass destruction; we were not greeted as liberators; and Iraqi oil proceeds have not paid the cost of the war. American involvement in the war has killed more than 2,500 American servicemen and women, and wounded 20,000 more. It has cost the country half a trillion dollars, irreparably damaged our credibility around the world and allowed Osama bin Laden to evade capture. The President went to war without a clear strategy for victory and has ignored the experts on the ground in Iraq.

We need a Congress that will fulfill its constitutional responsibility for oversight and accountability. Our troops were sent to war without the equipment they needed and Congress shortchanged veterans benefits even as a whole new generation of veterans has been created. Rather than simply accepting sound bites and photo-ops, Congress must ask the Administration to produce a clear and realistic set of goals that will measure progress on the ground and the ability of the Iraqis to take control of their country as soon as possible.

Not that many candidates have come right out and said Bush lied about the war. There's no bigger issue than this in 2006. Iraq is the issue Democrats of all stripes are going to win with, be they John Murtha, Tim Holden, Chaka Fattah or Jason Altmire. Many of these Dems still haven't come out strongly saying the kind of thing Jason says. Bravo, he "gets it." (What are some of them waiting for???) This is what the voters are looking for. They understand what Bush and Cheney did and how their Congressmen supported him. They're looking for leadership that will put an end to this nightmare and people like Jason Altmire are stepping up to provide that decisive leadership.

His opponent Melissa Hart opposes embryonic stem cell research, a woman's right to choose, equal rights for all Americans, bankruptcy protection for middle class Americans facing health crisis, oil drilling restrictions in ANWR, funding of the UN to help secure peace and avoid genocide, and supports trade agreements like CAFTA that are costing working families their jobs, the Patriot Act which is restricting your civil rights, the energy industry, the banking industry, the insurance industry, the reckless foreign policy of President Bush, and the rest of the extreme right wing Republican agenda.

We must send Jason Altmire to Congress and replace this radical extremist.

Oil Independence Rally Headlines Dertinger in PA-15

Charles Dertinger, the Democratic candidate in the Fifteenth Congressional District is holding a rally to call for an "oil free Congress." The idea is to rid our federal representatives of their dependence on oil money. Let's face it, we'll never get serious about our dependence on middle east oil until we end our dependence on Congressmen(like Charlie Dent) and Senators beholden to the oil industry.

The Dertinger campaign reports:

Lehigh Valley Beyond Oil will host an Oil Independence Rally at South
Bethelehem's Mobile Station on the corner of 3rd and New Streets in an
effort to expose ties between oil companies and politicians in Washington.
Dertinger will meet with those at the rally to show his support for an
"oil-free Congress" that deters members from accepting money from donors in
the oil industry.

What: Rally for an Oil-Free Congress
Where: Mobil Station, South Bethlehem at the corner of 3rd and New Streets
(meet at the Wildflower Cafe, which is across the street from the Mobil
between 3rd and 4th Streets)
When: Wednesday June 28 5pm-7pm
Who: Appearance by Charles Dertinger, democratic candidate for Congress,

Lois Murphy Addresses First Responder Concerns

In the Sixth Congressional District race progressive candidate Lois Murphy continues to address the real concerns of the people. While Jim Gerlach cozies up to Tom DeLay, Karl Rove and George W. Bush Lois is talking about jobs, health care and security concerns.

From the Murphy campaign:

"My priority is to keep Pennsylvania's families safe, and central to doing
this is ensuring that our first responders are equipped to effectively
respond to an emergency," Murphy said. "This administration and Congress
have repeatedly cut funding that undermines the ability of our emergency
personnel to quickly respond to a natural disaster or attack, and my
opponent, Jim Gerlach, has been with them every step of the way. I will
work to ensure that the 6th district is prepared to handle any emergency and
ensure that our first responders have the resources they need to keep us

Lois believes that first responders are some of the most crucial players in
the event of an emergency. Efficient response requires rapid and effective
communication as well as state-of-the-art equipment, and must be a priority
in the budget. Yet this administration and Republican-led Congress have
continued to cut funding for homeland security and for our first responders.
The federal government recently designated $49 million in homeland security
funds for Pennsylvania-a cut of more than $32 million or 40 percent from
last year. The Philadelphia area alone lost $3 million in funding, a 14
percent loss.

As a member of Congress, Lois will:

* Fight to restore the levels of funding that the region and the state
need to adequately respond to an emergency.
* Work to increase Pennsylvania's communications capabilities so that
local, state, and federal officials can coordinate response and share vital
* Support testing of emergency and evacuation plans to ensure that
they can be executed in the event of an emergency.

Jim Gerlach has a history of voting to cut funding for homeland security and
first responders. In 2005, Gerlach voted against improving first responder
communications, opposing a proposal to provide $5 billion over 5 years to
achieve 100% communications interoperability that would have provided a
direct source of funding for first responders to purchase and upgrade
communications equipment. Gerlach also voted for final passage of the
Homeland Security Appropriation bill, despite the fact that this legislation
provided 8% less funding for firefighter grant programs, $60 million less
than the year before.

New GOTV Method

Over the past year several organizations such as the Coalition for Voting Integrity, and others have been warning about the threat to our democracy from electronic voting machines. I'm not going to get into the nitty gritty of why these computer voting terminals are so bad because you can read all about it better at their websites. Please do.

Every computer expert and/or programmer I know, regardless of political affiliation, has issued dire warnings about the machines being developed by companies like ES&S, Sequoia, Diebold, and Danaher. They claim features have been built into these computers that raise questions about the integrity of their vote counts. Now Lou Dobbs on CNN has disclosed that many counties, heckled by taxpayers obsessed with avoiding investing in their communities and fair elections are allowing poll workers unfettered and unsupervised access to these machines.

Since attending several forums sponsored by the Coalition for Voting Integrity I've been joking that, as a political consultant my job will be made very easy by these new machines. Instead of running a conventional campaign with voter contact, media, field organization and direct mail, in the near future all I need do is find the best hacker around and program the voting machines to rig the elections. Now it seems the federal government is making this shockingly easy.

It seems counties in several states, including Pennsylvania, are allowing poll workers to collect and store the new machines in their homes prior to election day. Wow, what an opportunity. Here's what I recommend.....

If you live in a county that allows the completely unsecure storage of these computerized machines please contact me now. I will arrange for a computer expert to visit your home and reprogram them so our candidates are guaranteed victories. Just think, no more having to spend all that money actually winning votes. No more phone banks, canvassing, direct mail, and working outside the polls. Simply pick up your machine, take it home and call our experts.

We all owe a great deal to those making this possible: Congress for passing HAVA, Secretary of State Pedro Cortes who refused to listen to our concerns about the security of these machines, the companies who built them so they could be rigged, and the taxpayers who refuse to invest in their communities and force their counties into this reckless policy.

Just think, we never need lose another election! If your precinct doesn't have a judge of elections please get appointed to this immediately so you can control the machines.

Here is a portion of the transcript from the Lou Dobbs telecast about this issue:

In the upcoming midterm congressional elections, a little more than four months from now, a third of the nation will be casting ballots on electronic voting machines. Tonight, new questions about the extraordinary lack of security that results from the use of these machines. Kitty Pilgrim reports.

KITTY PILGRIM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: In San Diego county Patty Newton volunteered as an election worker in the June 6th primary. After her training class for electronic voting machines, she got the surprise of her life.

PATTI NEWTON, FORMER POLL WORKER: We were given slips of papers, had them stamped by one of the staff members and we were directed to drive across to the parking lot to pick up our voting machines and take them home. We all felt an ominous kind of responsibility. It was not something that we were told we would be doing.

PILGRIM: She stored the electronic voting machine here, on the floor of her garage for seven days until the election. According to Vote Trust USA, states with so-called sleepovers for electronics voting machines are California, Iowa, Pennsylvania, and Florida, but certain counties in other states do it also. Voter activists say while millions have been spent buying the machines, counties don't have the budgets for storing them or delivering them on election day.

SUSAN PYNCHON, FLORIDA FAIR ELECTIONS COALITION: Each jurisdiction has been given money through the Help America Vote Act to purchase the machines, but many of these jurisdictions are strapped when it comes to trying to maintain them, already, and to have this some huge delivery charge on top of that, that money comes directly out of the local taxpayers' pockets.

PILGRIM: In Florida the Volusia County Department of Elections manual makes it official, "Pick up the voting equipment and ballots at your designated pick-up site prior to the day of the election. As soon as the items are picked up, they must be stored in a secure place." But on March 5th in Dallas County, a 14-pound electronic voting machine was stolen from the home of an election judge. Today the Dallas sheriff's office told us the voting machine has still not been recovered.

Is Rick Santorum Too Incompetent to be Senator?

Rick Santorum (R-VA) gets his facts wrong....again. In an interview with a website called Right Wing News (yes, folks, it really exists) the Senator makes these statements:

John Hawkins: What do you say to people who now know that we discovered 500 WMDS in Iraq, that Saddam had stockpiles of weapons, and yet they still say, "Aww, that's not a big deal. What does it prove?" What do you say to those people, Rick?

Rick Santorum: Well, I say that it was one of the pieces of the puzzle that we believe helps put together the threat that Saddam was to this country and the world... One of the things that we asserted was that he had not destroyed his stockpiles of weapons from the previous war. We sent in weapons inspectors, as people will recall, not only to look at whether he had current weapons programs in place, but to determine whether he had destroyed the weapons he said he had destroyed. It is very clear that he did not destroy those weapons and that those weapons would have been available and unfortunately still are available to...terrorist organizations that could use them against us or other countries around the world.

And this:

John Hawkins: If someone said to you, "Rick, I am undecided between you and Casey. Give me three differences between the two of you that would convince me to vote for you." What would you tell them?

Rick Santorum: First, I'd say taxes are a big difference. He is against the tax reductions of 2001 and 2003. He said he would like to raise...rates up to 50% for the top bracket. He is absolutely a traditional tax and spend Democrat.

First of all, it is insane to try and say this junkpile of pre-1991 Gulf War munitions were any threat to the United States in 2003. Department of Defense officials have said these weapons weren't even stable any longer and not a threat. Yet Rick Santorum is either using these to needlessly instill fear into the minds of Americans or he's dangerously incompetent.

As for the second statement about taxes. "Borrow and Spend" Rick Santorum, who is responsible for voting for budgets and reckless tax policies that have bankrupted our nation and indebted it to Red China, accuses his opponent of wanting to raise the top tax bracket to 50%.

Now I was somewhat involved in the Democratic Senate primary race. Followed it rather closely you might say. While Bob Casey isn't someone I support I won't sit aside while Santorum accuses him of saying something he has never said. Casey never supported a 50% tax bracket for the rich. That was Chuck Pennacchio's proposal. Get your facts straight Mr. Santorum.

When you combine the gaffes in this interview with his insistence on using Senate time and resources on issues like flag burning and gay marriage instead of balancing the budget, providing health care for all Americans, stopping the outsourcing of jobs, protecting our environment, providing a living wage for hard working citizens, and enforcing our immigration laws, it is evident the man is totally incompetent to be our United States Senator.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Water Water Everywhere

Well as many of you know water is a big issue in the heartland of Pennsylvania today. The state is drenched from a sub-tropical system feeding moisture into a corrider spreading across the center of the state.

All I hope for is that we don't get so bad that FEMA gets involved. If they do, run for the hills. FEMA and water disasters don't have a good history together so let's all hope some sunshine returns quickly.

Perhaps the politicos in Harrisburg will donate some of their pay raise to relief organizations helping those citizens who are already suffering losses from the streams and rivers overflowing in the affected parts of the state. I hear that Schuylkill County got hit very hard. In a poor county (destined to stay that way unless the house gets off their collective ass and votes for a minimum wage increase) this is not what they needed.

Fortunately (or not depending on your point of view) I'm am still above water and still able to connect to the net.


P.S. SuperPride weekend was a BLAST. I love being out and proud!!!!

House Labor relations Committee Fails on Wage Bill

The Pennsylvania House Labor Relations Committee failed to vote on an acceptable minimum wage bill today. They adjourned without a resolution. Too bad that idea didn't occur to them last July 7th when they didn't allow the clock to prevent them from raising their own pay. How priorities change when it's only Pennsylvania's working poor benefiting from their actions.

If your Representative is on this list please contact them tonight (2 am might be a good hour) and ask them to pass an acceptable bill tomorrow.

Bush's (New) Lies About Iraq

How many times have we heard recently that "as Iraqis stand up Americans will stand down" and this is the test for U.S. withdrawal from its invasion and occupation of that country? Several factors prove George W. Bush has no such intentions however. As always with Bush you must look at his deeds, not his words. We learned early on not to trust a thing he said. He came to Philadelphia to celebrate Head Start while cutting its budget 60%. He called his program to allow power companies to increase their mercury emissions "Clear Skies." His program to allow lumber companies to log our national forests was called the "Healthy Forests Initiative." The man is truly orwellian.

So as we listen to the President speak about conditions for withdrawal from Iraq lets look at the reality. Fourteen permanent American military bases being built. Then Congress last week stripped a provision from a bill allocating yet more funding to the war effort a provision to ban permanent bases. If we're going to leave Iraq why do we need to be building these bases and why did the Administration ask Congress to strip this provision from the bill? Because we aren't leaving.

Perhaps the biggest signal we have no intention of leaving is the massive new embassy being built in Baghdad. This behemoth is the size of eighty football fields, is completely self supporting, and is being built to hold 8000 Americans. $592 million of your tax dollars are going into its construction. At least this is one contract Halliburton didn't receive. The Nation has a very interesting article detailing this huge project. It illustrates how clueless this White House is regarding their image in Iraq and/or their contempt for the Iraqi people. And we wonder why we can't stop this insurgency....

Decide for yourself if you can continue to trust Bush when he says we'll leave Iraq. A few excerpts from the article:

"At a time when most Iraqis are enduring blackouts of up to 22 hours a day, the site is floodlighted by night so work can continue around the clock."

"The Tribune says that "for security reasons, the new embassy is being built entirely by imported labor. The contractor, First Kuwaiti General Trading and Contracting Co., which was linked to human-trafficking allegations by a Chicago Tribune investigation last year, has hired a workforce of 900 mostly Asian workers who live on the site." In a land where half the population is out of work the United States ought to win countless native hearts and minds with this labor policy."

"An "embassy" in which 8,000 people labor, along with the however many thousand military personnnel necessary to defend them, is not a diplomatic outpost. It is a base. A permanent base."
commenting and trackback have been added to this blog.

Domestic Violence: Some Phillies Still Don't Get It

Let me begin by saying I'm a diehard Phillies fan. I had Sunday season tickets until campaign involvements meant I simply couldn't get to the games. Then there was that ugly incident with drunken fans in the parking lot, but that's another story. The most read article on this site lately (through Google searches or whatever) was the one about Brett Myers' physical assault on his wife Kim last week. Of all the subjects, be they national or state political matters, this sports story stands head and shoulders above the rest.

It wasn't really a sports story though, it was a domestic violence story. I'm following up because of something I read in today's Philadelphia Inquirer. The first bit of news is that Brett Myers has requested and been granted a leave of absence from the team. The Phillies say:

The Phillies have made available appropriate, professional, employee assistance resources to help Brett and Kim Myers in these circumstances.

Bravo. It's about time someone did something constructive here. I do hope these resources are appropriate for Kim Myers and deal with Brett's obvious anger issues.

Brett's statement is very revealing however:

On the day of my arrest, I consulted with my attorney by phone, who advised me to make no comments about this matter. While I followed his advice at the time, I have felt the need to make some comments about this situation and I do so now.

First, while I dispute that the facts are as alleged, I recognize that my behavior was inappropriate and for that I apologize.

Second, I recognize that the incident created an embarrassing situation for many people, including my wife and family, my teammates, the Phillies organization, and fans, and I am very sorry for that.

Third, my wife and children are very important to me and I am willing to do whatever is necessary to address any problems that might harm our marriage. I have asked the Phillies for some time off so that I can concentrate on this matter and make plans for whatever assistance is appropriate.

At this time, I do not intend to make any further public comments about this matter.

Note that the welfare of his wife and children come last.

The Inquirer article revealed a profound absence from reality by Phillies third baseman David Bell:

Asked whether the weekend in Boston had been tough because of the arrest and three losses to the Red Sox, third baseman David Bell said, "That's none of my business. Nor is it anyone else's. It's my business because I care about him, but it's nobody's business who doesn't care about him."

Sorry David, but when men beat women it's the obligation of every other man around them to intervene. Your appalling lack of civility and manhood is revolting. The only way we're going to stop such behavior by men is to let them know we won't tolerate it. Yes, it's your business, my business, everyone's business to intervene and protect Kim Myers or any other woman being beaten by a man.

Bush Administration Announces Incredible Success in Iraq

Wow, this news is all over the television today. It seems that General George W. Casey is recommending a substantial reduction of American troops in Iraq beginning next spring. This withdrawal (or cut and run as Republicans call it) was only supposed to happen as Iraqi units were able to step up. The mantra from Republican U.S. Senators just last week was that any such plan was heresy and treason. Their excuse that Americans cannot step down until this standard was met was echoed throughout the week in that august chamber.

Their vile and virulent oratory accusing Democrats of selling out the war on terror was an incredible display of vitriol.

Now we learn the White House is authorizing just such a plan as Democrats like Carl Levin suggested last week to a cascade of GOP abuse. It seems that the Iraqi Security Forces have acheived a remarkable, nee, miraculous conversion to a legitimate national force that we can now announce a schedule for withdrawal of American forces. Now, put aside for a minute the notion, put forward ad nauseum last week, that publicizing such a schedule was insane, and celebrate this remarkable achievement. This, after all, was accomplished in only one week.

Why one week you may inquire? Well, since this same idea was demonized by the entire Republican Senate membership as of late last week it's announcement now signals something miraculous. They said all last week that the Iraqis weren't ready. Now they are. That is an incredible rate of success and Bush should be lauded for such an achievement.

It couldn't be that Republicans, after such ridiculous behavior last week, could be embracing the same plan put forth by Democrats could it? No, that would be rank hypocrisy, pandering, and demogoguery of the worst sort. That could never happen, not in the august quarters of the Oval Office and the United States Senate.

The Real Reason Rush Got Arrested

I read this great article on The Huffington Post and it got my mind going.... Rush Limbaugh was arrested yesterday for carrying a vial of Viagra for which he didn't have a prescription. One thing everyone who travels understands is that you'd better be sure your meds are all legitimate, especially if you're on probation for prescription drug fraud.

Anyway Bob Cesca points out the huge hypocrisy of Republicans, especially their talking heads. If you recall we just went through a week of Senate debate where Republicans orated on the critical importance of protecting "traditional marriage." Now, just to review for a second, their definition of "traditional marriage" means that all sex must be matrimonial, heterosexual, and procreative. In fact this is one of Rick Santorum's primary tenets.

In other words, no adultery, no pre-marital sex, no masturbation, no sodomy, no oral or anal sex, no contraception. The only time the GOP Sex Police will allow you to screw is when you're married to someone of the opposite sex, do it in the missionary position, and trying to make a baby.

So what was the unmarried Rush Limbaugh doing with a vial of Viagra?????

Also, what does this say about his ex-girlfriend Daryn Kagan of CNN that he needed help?????

So it remains to be seen what the Republican thought police will do about this. Rumors have it they stormed his studio this afternoon and took him off to one of their "re-education centers" for discipline. Their Sex Police raided his home in Florida looking for dildos, condoms, and other forbidden sexual paraphanalia. Is this really happening in America? No, it's just some satire.

This IS what people like Rick Santorum want to happen in America however. He supports a religious theocracy where his government will be in your bedrooms dictating how you have sex, with whom, and how. Santorum does NOT believe there's a right to privacy in America. How about sending him back to private life in Leesburg, Virginia soon? In fact let's Rush it.

End of Reporting Period

June 30th means the end of the current FEC reporting period for Federal candidates. This would be anyone running for Congress or the U.S. Senate. Since there aren't any progressive candidates for Senate please contribute as much as you can afford to our progressive Congressional candidates. Several campaigns in south central Pennsylvania especially need your financial assistance:

Phil Avillo

Lois Herr

Tony Barr

Also consider:

Chris Carney

Lois Murphy

Jason Altmire

Joe Sestak

Giving Democrats Credit is reporting that Democrats in 36 states are using new Mastercard affinity cards which earn funds for their campaign coffers. Banks discovered affinty cards a while back and consumers have fallen in love with them. I get offers for affinty cards from almost every organization I belong to from the Penn State Alumni Association to animal rescue groups. Now the Democratic Party is allying with Juniper Bank to offer them to fellow Democrats as a way to raise funds.

This sounds like a good idea for the Pennsylvania Democratic Party. Voters can show their pride in supporting working people, humanitarianism, environmentalism and civil rights with every purchase and contribute to the cause at the same time.

Property Tax Reform Signed Into Law

Governor Rendell signed legislation today enacting the first property tax reform for Pennsylvania in several decades. The legislature has been wrangling with many different bills, all proposing one method or another to ease the tax burden. This bill, though, only deals with school taxes and not county taxes.

Rendell campaigned in 2002 on a platform which included passing some property tax relief. Combined with Act 72 which should raise significant sums from slot machines, the Governor can now tell the voters he has accomplished as much reform as was possible under Republican leadership in the state legislature. More signifant reform is defintely needed, especially on county property taxes, but that will have to await election changes come November 7th.

Nutter to Resign for Mayoral Run is reporting that Philadelphia City Councilman Michael Nutter will resign to run for Mayor. The City requires elected officials to resign before running for another office. The Inquirer reports that none of the other rumored candidates need do what Nutter did:

Of the six likely candidates to emerge so far - all are Democrats - Nutter is the only one subject to the special City Charter prohibition. No similar ban exists in state or federal government, which means the other elected officials who are contenders - U.S. Rep. Chaka Fattah and State Rep. Dwight Evans - can keep their jobs while campaigning.

Former City Controller Jonathan Saidel retired from that position in January, so he, too, is free.

The remaining two - electricians' union chief John Dougherty and wealthy businessman Tom Knox - do not hold elected positions.

This will be an interesting contest. The Democratic machine in Philadelphia has been ravaged by corruption and challenged by progressive groups like Philly for Change and Neighborhood Networks.

Will State House Vote on Worker's Raises?

Maybe they need a session that ends at 2 am or wait to do it until they cut Medicaid by $40 million.... After all that was the scenario last July 7th when the state legislature took money from the poorest of the state's poor and stuffed it into their own pockets. Because the Senate was unable to pass the same bill that the House had approved the minimum wage bill is back in the House.

Though this bill is bad for small businesses since it penalizes their efforts to hire workers under a provision that allows them to pay a sub-minimum wage (who in their right mind would work for that when they can go down the street and get the minimum?) Democrats say they will settle for the legislation because workers are in such desperate need for assistance. It has been 9 years since they received a raise in wages. The Morning Call quotes Bill DeWeese:

But the Democrats will not insist on a minimum-wage vote as a condition for passing the state budget for the fiscal year that begins Saturday, DeWeese said. The Senate bill's fate in the House was unclear Monday. Steve Miskin, spokesman for House Majority Leader Sam Smith, said GOP leaders had not discussed the measure and would have to evaluate it first.

Does this legislature want to face the voters with the albatross of also not having passed this?

Bush's Updated Resume

This is an updated version of a Bush resume that's been making the email rounds for some years.



1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 20520



I was arrested in Kennebunkport, Maine, in 1976 for driving under the influence of alcohol. I pled guilty, paid a fine, and had my driver's license suspended for 30 days. My Texas driving record has been "lost" and is not available.


I joined the Texas Air National Guard and went AWOL. I refused to take a drug test or answer any questions about my drug use. By joining the Texas Air National Guard, I was able to avoid combat duty in Vietnam.


I graduated from Yale University with a low C average. I was a cheerleader.


I ran for U.S. Congress and lost. I began my career in the oil business in Midland, Texas, in 1975. I bought an oil company, but couldn't find any oil in Texas. The company went bankrupt shortly after I sold all my stock.

I bought the Texas Rangers baseball team in a sweetheart deal that took land using taxpayer money. After Texas taxpayers paid for a new stadium I sold the team for a huge profit and cashed out. With the help of my father and our friends in the oil industry, including Enron CEO Ken Lay, I was elected governor of Texas.


I changed Texas pollution laws to favor power and oil companies, making Texas the most polluted state in the Union. During my tenure, Houston replaced Los Angeles as the most smog-ridden city in America. I cut taxes and bankrupted the Texas treasury to the tune of billions in borrowed money. I set the record for the most executions by any governor in American history. With the help of my brother, the governor of Florida, and my father's appointments to the Supreme Court, I became President after losing by over 500,000 votes.


I am the first President in U.S. history to enter office with a criminal record. I invaded and occupied two countries at a continuing cost of over one billion dollars per week. I spent the U.S. surplus and effectively bankrupted the U.S. Treasury. I shattered the record for the largest annual deficit in U.S. history. I set an economic record for most private bankruptcies filed in any 12-month period. I set the all-time record for most foreclosures in a 12-month period. I set the all-time record for the biggest drop in the history of the U.S. stock market.

In my first year in office, over 2 million Americans lost their jobs and that trend continues every month.

The National Debt has increased more, and at a more rapid pace, during my tenure than in the history of the United States.

I'm proud that the members of my cabinet are the richest of any administration in U.S. history. My "poorest millionaire," Condoleezza Rice, had a Chevron oil tanker named after her. I set the record for most campaign fund-raising trips by a U.S. President. I am the all-time U.S. and world record-holder for receiving the most corporate campaign donations. My largest lifetime campaign contributor, and one of my best friends, Kenneth Lay, presided over the largest corporate bankruptcy fraud in U.S. History, Enron.

My political party used Enron private jets and corporate attorneys to assure my success with the U.S. Supreme Court during my election decision. I have protected my friends at Enron and Halliburton against investigation or prosecution. More time and money was spent investigating the Monica Lewinsky affair than has been spent investigating one of the biggest corporate rip- offs in history.

I presided over the biggest energy crisis in U.S. history and refused to intervene when corruption involving the oil industry was revealed. I presided over the highest gasoline prices in U.S. history. I changed the U.S.policy to allow convicted criminals to be awarded government contracts. I appointed more convicted criminals to administration than any President in U.S. history. I created the Ministry of Homeland Security, the largest bureaucracy in the history of the United States government.

I've broken more international treaties than any President in U.S. history. I am the first President in U.S. history to have the United Nations remove the U.S. from the Human Rights Commission. I withdrew the U.S.from the World Court of Law. I refused to allow inspectors access to U.S. "prisoners of war" detainees and thereby have refused to abide by the Geneva Convention. I am the first President in history to refuse United Nations election inspectors (during the 2002 U.S. election). I set the record for fewest numbers of press conferences of any President since the advent of television. I set the all-time record for most days on vacation in any one-year period. After taking off the entire month of August, I presided over the worst security failure in U.S. history. I garnered the most sympathy for the U.S. after the World Trade Center attacks and less than a year later made the U.S. the most hated country in the world, the largest failure of diplomacy in world history.

I have set the all-time record for most people worldwide to simultaneously protest me in public venues (15 million people), shattering the record for protests against any person in the history of mankind.

I am the first President in U.S. history to order an unprovoked, pre-emptive attack and the military occupation of a sovereign nation. I did so against the will of the United Nations, the majority of U.S. citizens, and the world community. I have cut health care benefits for war veterans and support a cut in duty benefits for active duty troops and their families-in-wartime. In my State of the Union Address, I lied about our reasons for attacking Iraq and then blamed the lies on our British friends. I am the first President in history to have a majority of Europeans (71%) view my presidency as the biggest threat to world peace and security. I am supporting development of a nuclear "Tactical Bunker Buster," a WMD. I have so far failed to fulfill my pledge to bring Osama Bin Laden [sic] to justice.


All records of my tenure as governor of Texas are now in my father's library, sealed and unavailable for public view. All records of SEC investigations into my insider trading and my bankrupt companies are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public view. All records or minutes from meetings that I, or my Vice-President, attended regarding public energy policy are sealed in secrecy and unavailable for public review.

I am a member of the Republican Party.



Tony Barr to Attend Franklin Dems Breakfast Saturday

I received this from the Franklin County Democrats. Congratulations to their new Chair Beth Shupp-George!

The Franklin County Democratic Party will hold its first Democratic Breakfast on Saturday July 1 at 9:30 a.m. at Ryan’s Family Steakhouse, 1635 Lincoln Way East, Chambersburg.

All interested supporters of the Democratic Party are invited to attend. There will be no formal program or speeches; rather it is an opportunity to meet other area Democrats, candidates and party leaders, to discuss issues and candidates, and to learn more about the party and its activities, in a casual, relaxed atmosphere.

Candidates scheduled to attend include Tony Barr, who is running for Congress in the 9th District and Patrick Naugle, candidate for State Representative in the 91st District.

The price is $6.99 per adult for a breakfast buffet. Contributions to the Franklin County Democratic Party or to candidates are also appreciated.

To attend, please RSVP to Willa Jessee at or 717-530-0167 by Friday June 30 at the latest, preferably by Wednesday June 28.

Future Democratic Breakfasts are planned for 9:30 a.m. on the first Saturday of each month, locations to be announced.

To volunteer or learn more about the Franklin County Democratic Party, please visit

Monday, June 26, 2006

Fourth of July Causing Fireworks Between States

The Fourth of July. Barbecues, baseball, picnics and fireworks. Most of us go to our local parks to watch the fireworks displays but today there were fireworks between Pennsylvania and New Jersey. The Garden State sued Pennsylvania companies over the sale of fireworks near their shared state line. It seems New Jersey has stronger laws against fireworks than PA. The Keystone State has a loophole which says retailers may sell rockets and other dangerous pyrotechnics as long as the purchasers are residents of other states. As a result numerous retailers have staked out choice locations along the PA-NJ border and are selling fireworks to New Jersey residents who intend to use them in violation of their state laws. So one state sued the other to stop the practice.

There have been several difficult conflicts of late between these two states. The disagreements involve gun laws, dredging of the Delaware River, and the building of liquid natural gas facilities. Gun sales in Pennsylvania due to very lax laws are fueling violence in both Philly and Camden. Why we should allow retailers to sell fireworks to New Jerseans so they can blow off their hands is stupid. Is it time for a Gubernatorial summit? Perhaps Ed Rendell and Jon Corzine need to have a talk over lunch. Maybe steak sandwiches at Pat's.

This isn't simply a border problem however. Every Pennsylvanian knows they can buy pretty much anything they want at one of the innumerable retail shops that set up in tents right before the Fourth. Simply ask them what else they have for sale and they'll open their trunks or the backs of their trucks for all sorts of goodies. This has been common knowledge for years.

Instead of wasting time on matters that simply pander to bigots the legislature should be taking care of actual needs like these matters.

Former Pittsburgh Mayor Avoids Indictment

The Post Gazette is reporting that former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy is not going to be indicted for allegedly trading a nice new contract with the city firefighters union in return for their endorsement. The story has all the details of an agreement between Federal prosecutors and Mr. Murphy but the most intriguing aspect is that he agreed to cooperate and testify in other cases. Obviously this means other investigations are under way.

America Votes Day of Action

America Votes, a "527" group which has been mobilizing a grassroots organization throughout the Commonwealth is beginning it's field operations. This Saturday, June 24th, they are doing a canvass in Philadelphia. The following is cross posted from their blog:

It’s time to take back the country

Guest Blogger: Jose Louro, Southeast Pennsylvania Field Organizer

Gas Prices are over $3.00 a gallon. Healthcare costs have gone up over 70% in the past 6 years. Our economy rewards those who ship American jobs to overseas markets with low workplace standards. And, to top it off, instead of addressing these serious issues in our country, our Congress has been busy seriously debating a Constitutional Amendment to discriminate against our own citizens by banning gay marriage.

This has to change. And this Saturday, through the efforts of America Votes, we can make that change happen. We are banding together with activists in the Philadelphia area to go door to door and talk about the real issues that are impacting their daily lives. We can reclaim the debate and score an impressive victory for the progressive cause in Pennsylvania. But we need to talk to the people of Pennsylvania, one by one, person to person.

Click here to sign up now.

Right now more than 1 million Progressives won't participate in 2006 unless we begin talking to them now. That's why progressives from the Philadelphia area are getting together this Saturday, June 24 to go door to door and talk to the people about the important issues and urge them take action now to hold the Bush administration and Congress accountable.

Imagine what we can do if we harness the power of progressives and take on the problems that truly concern people to create the change we need.

Instead of just imagining, let's make it a reality. Join us this Saturday morning and help change the debate. To sign up, click here now or email me at

Together we can make change happen.

Coulter/Hitler Quiz

Take this quiz and try to guess which ideologue made which statement. I was familiar with a few of Ann's more publicized extremisms but I still couldn't really tell which one made which statement. Wow, what an eye opener.

The bottom line is that every time Ann Coulter writes a book or appears on television she dances merrily all the way to the bank. I'm convinced she's simply in it for the money. Once she discovered the relationship between extreme, outrageous behavior and her investment portfolio she began playing these right wingnuts like a violin. The best solution for a bottom feeder like Ann Coulter is shunning.

The Blog War of 2006

The past week has seen quite a battle in the liberal blogoshere. It really pains me to observe this. Folks, put it to rest. It threatens to tear the progressive movement apart just when we were making great strides and gaining influence. There are much bigger fish to fry than Markos and Jerome. Let's focus our attention once again where it needs to be.

Justifying War Crimes

I've been reading and listening all sorts of crap lately from people who are trying to explain and justify the rampant level of war crimes being perpetrated in Iraq by American troops. Folks there are no justifications for war crimes. None. Situations in war are always horrendous which is why the rules were promulgated. These are the reasons treaties were signed and agreements made not to engage in them and to make those responsible accountable under law.

Iraq is a war zone. It is the responsibility of our troops and, especially their officers, to insure that all rules, regulations and laws regarding non-combatants are followed. Any failure must be properly investigated and, where evidence exists, prosecuted. Stop this insane explaining that they're in a tough situation. All wars are tough. Yes, Iraq may be the worst. Who, however, is responsible for creating this situation? Well, we are. This is a situation the U.S. and it's incompetent leaders created and into which they sent these soldiers. Obviously with inadequate training and resources. The Iraqi people being massacred by American troops didn't start this war.

This has been a massive failure of leadership and policy.

There were reports early on that American troops were knocking doors in, entering homes and shooting Iraqis in their beds. I distinctly recall reading such reports. Whether there was any truth to them was questionable at the time. The resulting widespread support for the insurgency was a sign perhaps that they were. I do know that right from the beginning we lost the war to win the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people. That is what keeps fueling the insurgency and is one reason why we've lost this war.

I also have to wonder how many atrocities haven't been reported. More keep cropping up. The lack of press and media coverage in the country because of the dreadful security situation casts a blanket over what has been happening. So many journalists have been killed during this war only the bravest or most foolish venture out. Of course that alone may say enough about the outcome of this foolish escapade.

War crimes are war crimes. They cannot be excused. Ever. I heard one fool on CNN this morning try and justify it by saying our own America is so violent, with people killed on the streets every day, that these atrocities are no big deal. That shocked me so much I turned off the television. How on earth do you tell an Iraqi woman that it's ok a couple GI's murdered her children because the violence back home is so bad they couldn't help themselves?

Perhaps, perhaps, these morons should consider healing the culture of violence in America before using it to justify its exportation to Baghdad.

Man's Best Friend

I decided to redo this post because I simply wasn't stable enough emotionally to do it justice yesterday. I lost my best friend Saturday. Max, my 16 year old blck Lab/Golden mix passed on to the rainbow bridge. I got Max as a rescue when he was a year old. He was the gentlest, most loving soul I've ever known. I liked to say his mission in life was to meet and make friends with every other living creature. He sure tried.

I always called him the greatest dog in the world. He was loving, loyal, obedient, and always willing to please. He never chewed a shoe or anything else. Relatives finally figured out giving rawhide bones and such was a waste of money as he had no interest in chewing anything but his kibble. For a lab/golden he was shockingly averse to water. He never swam a day in his life. One day we were running along the shore of the Chesapeake Bay with a friend's dogs and he followed them across a small creek. Since the water was deeper than his tummy he wouldn't recross. Though early March and cold, I took my shoes off, rolled up my pants and carried him back across. My friend thereafter referred to me facetiously as the Great Creek Crosser.

I've spent the weekend with these memories and more. Fifteen years worth. All those days working long hours on campaigns to come home, god knows when, and he never complained. He just wagged his tail, gave me a big kiss and we went off to bed. His loss leaves a huge void in both my and my beagle's lives. He'll be forever missed but it's comforting to know he's finally free from pain and suffering. The final few months were tough. Thank you to my vet who helped make those as comfortable as could be for him.

The picture was from Saturday morning before we went to the vet. It's my last picture of him. I had a sheet on the floor to make him a bit more comfortable.

Russ Feingold on "Meet the Press"

I missed Senator Feingold's appearance on Meet the Press yesterday but, thanks to the great blog Crooks and Liars was able to watch. Read these excerpts to see why he should be our next President. From Meet the Press:

SEN. FEINGOLD: Not only does it make sense, but it short—sort of shows that all this talk about a timetable being unreasonable or ridiculous is just wrong. Even General Casey is talking about how realistic it is to bring the troops home, and our timetable that we proposed last week had to do with bringing the troops home within one year. I mean, how is this different? And of course, the claim is, if you tell the terrorists that you’re going to leave, that somehow they’re going to be able to wait us out. Well, apparently General Casey and the administration is allowing us to tell them this.

The fact is it is a public timetable, just of the kind that General Casey here is basically talking about, where everybody’s going to know about it, is the best way to transition so that the Iraqis know what’s going to happen, we know what’s going to happen, the American people knows what’s going to happen—know what’s going to happen. That is the way to have confidence in the process in Iraq and get us refocused on the broader fight against terrorism in those places in the world, Tim, where we’re losing ground. We’re losing ground in Afghanistan. We don’t have enough resources in Indonesia and Malaysia area in this regard. We have lost ground in Somalia. And the fact is that Iraq is draining our strength. I think General Casey knows that. And this plan is very similar to the type of thing that Senator Kerry and I actually proposed in the United States Senate this week.

MR. RUSSERT: What General Casey and others would say about your plan is that it limited his flexibility. You wanted a time certain for all troops out. What he says is, “I need flexibility. I need to be able to have a withdrawal plan on my terms, based on what’s happening on the ground.” And he would have 40,000 to 50,000 troops on the ground at the end of next year. You would be completely out.

SEN. FEINGOLD: When he gives—we give total flexibility to the Pentagon and to General Casey in terms of what order he wants to do this, what time frame within the year that we have proposed. And the fact is our amendment does not call for the complete elimination of all troops. We allow exceptions to protect American facilities, to conduct anti-terrorist activities, and to help in a limited way in terms of training the Iraqi military and the Iraqi police. So the fact is, we do provide the flexibility that General Casey needs. Our plan is so similar to what he’s talking about it makes me wonder what the Republicans of the United States Senate and others were talking about when they said a timetable was a sort of a crazy idea. It’s a perfectly reasonable idea.

MR. RUSSERT: So you’d be content with 50,000 American troops on the ground at the end of next year?

SEN. FEINGOLD: No, I didn’t say that. What I said was we’d give him substantial flexibility, and if there are some troops that are still needed for the purposes I just mentioned, that is something I can accept. Of course, the Congress would also listen. Of course, the Congress would also listen if General Casey and the president said, “Look, we’re almost there, we need a little more time.” We could obviously extend the deadline. But having a public deadline that the American people could see, that the Iraqi people could see, that the world could see, so that people couldn’t use the idea of a so-called “American occupation of Iraq” as an excuse to recruit terrorists, that would be good for us, it would help us in the fight against al-Qaeda, which should be our top goal, Tim, fighting al-Qaeda and its affiliates, not being bogged down in Iraq.

MR. RUSSERT: The vice president, Cheney, weighed in on the debate. He offered these comments: “The worst possible thing we could do is what the Democrats are suggesting. And no matter how you carve it, you can call it anything you want, but basically it is packing it in, going home, and persuading and convincing and validating the theory that the Americans don’t have the stomach for this fight.”

SEN. FEINGOLD: The worst thing we could possibly do is what Vice President Cheney and President Bush did, which was take us into an unnecessary war that had nothing to do with 9/11 on false pretenses. They have done the worst thing that’s ever been done in this regard. The question is, do we just keep making the same mistake over and over again? Do we just stay in Iraq so that Cheney and Bush can say that, that they were right? That appears to be why we’re there. That appears to be the only logical reason to stay in a situation that is draining our military, that is hurting our recruiting, that is allowing Osama bin Laden to have us exactly where he wants us.

Tim, the Iraq invasion has played into the hand of al-Qaeda. They use Iraq as a training ground, as a place where they can go after Americans and say to people, “Come into Iraq, and we will train you to go after America and the West.” And the evidence is all over the world, where there are attacks going on all over the world of, of terrorists. We have not addressed the real issue here, and it’s Cheney and Bush and the administration that have failed the American people by a policy that has essentially nothing to do with those that attacked us on 9/11.

Russ for President

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Domestic Violence and Sports

Being a sports fan two articles caught my attention last week. Being as I also detest violence against women I was appalled. Steelers wide receiver draft pick Santonio Holmes was arrested for assaulting a woman. It was his second arrest since he was drafted in April. He says he is sorry. Funny how they always say they're sorry isn't it? Most are only sorry they got arrested.

Then in Boston Phillies pitcher Brett Myers, their only competent starting pitcher, beat up his wife so badly outside a hotel several people called 911. She was overheard screaming that she was fed up with his regular abuse. Kim, Berks Women in Crisis is there to help, go talk with them.

The Myers case bothers me for another reason: his reaction. He's quoted as saying this:

I'm sorry it had to get public, that's it. Of course it's embarrassing,'' Myers said.

He's only sorry the fans found out what kind of man he is. He was booed by Boston fans every time he took the mound. Let's hope every man in Philadelphia is also man enough to stand up for women and do the same. Maybe then Brett will get the message.

The Myers case hit home because Kim Myers is from Oley, where I live. I can't stand aside and not speak out about this. In fact I was recently at a Men's Breakfast sponsored by Berks Women in Crisis where we all pledged not to tolerate men who abuse women. Brett Myers needs help but the Phillies haven't offered any. I haven't see the Steelers do anything either concerning Holmes. Myers was on the mound yesterday instead of on suspension.

Every time the Tampa Bay Devil Rays are in Philadelphia they bring one Julio Lugo along. Lugo was convicted of physically abusing his wife while on the Texas Rangers. That team did the right thing: terminated his contract and released him. Bravo.

It's important that men send an unequivocal message to other men who abuse women: it won't be tolerated. Let's see how the Steelers and Phillies deal with these men.

Kicking People When They're Down

I found an interesting article from western Pennsylvania about a local Kittanning councilwoman being driven from her position because of some unfortunate personal setbacks. Nothing like kicking someone when they're down. Some folks have no principles. Kittanning resident Robert Copenhaver filed a complaint in Armstrong County court saying Borough Councilwoman Mary Piluso no longer resided in the borough and should be removed from her position.

It seems that a water pipe burst in the councilwoman's home and caused considerable damage. Then, to make things worse, her sister Rose took ill so Ms. Piluso began staying there so as to care for her sister and allow repairs to be done at her home in Kittanning. Boy, that's string of bad luck. At any rate the repairs are going forward and the Councilwoman fully intends to return to her residence, still gets mail there and puts trash out. It seems to me if someone still has to take trash out they obviously haven't abandoned a home. Her attorney says she fully intends to return to her home.

Chuck Pascal, who also hosts a progressive radio program in Kittanning, is representing Piluso in court and they're awaiting the judge's decision. People like Robert Copenhaver have no shame.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Slow news day

So it's a Saturday and usually that means it's a slow day in the news cycle. Generally because nobody in the Bush administration works on the weekend so they can't screw things up. So lets see what's going on today shall we?

Sunnis complain religious leader detained aw Jeez...wah wah wah always with the complaining. Maybe we should just shoot them or drop more 'bout it George?

FBI: Suspects sought help from al-Qaida well that's good news. Good for the G-Men out there catching the criminals. Here's a tip...1600 Pennsylvania Avenue Washington DC.

Coalition, Afghan troops kill 82 militants .... Osama bin Laden NOT among them. HELLO!!!!!

Court bars info request on NSA wiretapping Well now I understand what George W means by "activist judges". Yoo Hoo...goverment by the people, for the people, of the people...We The People....any of this "people" stuff ring any bells judges?

Americans obsessed with their orchids See what I mean by a slow news cycle?? Thousands of American troops dead in Iraq and we're obsessed about our freaking orchids? What is wrong with us?

Children's deaths in hot cars preventable yes...don't be such f*cking lazy, moronic parents and take your children WITH YOU. Pay attention!!!!!

Agassi plans to retire after U.S. Open OK and I care why exactly?

Bomb blast kills 2 policemen in Baghdad Hey Tony, I know it's only a number but what IS the number now? Just curious...

Rescuers find body in Mexican mine IT'S JIMMY HOFFA!!! THEY FOUND JIMMY HOF...wait...what? Oh...nevermind.

Nearly 150 rebels killed in Afghanistan in a fortnight For those Americans who do not know, a fortnight is two weeks. Actually it's 14 Nights. Who talks like that anymore? Oh...and No Osama bin Laden was NOT one of the 150 rebels removed from the planet. HELLO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Saddam ends hunger strike after missing one meal Now THAT'S dedication!!!

Like I said a slow news cycle. I can't help notice that the PASENATE.COM site has nothing about the "Exclude gay taxpayers from marriage" amendment. The weekly wrap-up isn't posted yet so maybe it'll be on there.

More later....well...maybe....we'll have to see what happens. What....something about a drunk pelican..what......


More Data missing

I received a letter today that says that a notebook computer containing my military data and that of 26.5 million other people was taken home by a government employee and then the notebook was stolen.

I know this has been in the news for a while but getting that letter kinda sorta brought the issue home to roost. Why would someone take all that information and leave their office? So now I have to go through all the extra trouble to be extra vigilent and make sure my identity isn't being stolen. Of course, I'd rather do that than have ANY government agency digging around in my credit reports. Sheez, that thought is more terrifying than the theft.

So my first observation for government employees: do your work at the office not at home, that way, if it gets stolen, I can blame the government. Not that I need any more fuel for that fire.


Friday, June 23, 2006

Santorum's "Noble Cause" Defined

Now we know what the "noble cause" was that President Bush keeps saying is why 2500 Americans have died in Iraq for and thousands more have been critically wounded. The reason why tens of thousands (maybe hundreds of thousands) of Iraqi civilians have been killed. Rick Santorum has the answer: junkpiles of old, destabilized chemical weapons from the Iran-Iraq War. According to Rick this justifies why we went to war in Iraq. I hope this is comfort to all those Pennsylvania families who lost loved ones.

Of course, these weapons were no longer of any danger to anyone because they were so old. I guess that explains why they were still around. I read one statement today that said they might give someone rug burn. So, these were the wmd's that Bush said could create a mushroom cloud over an American city if we didn't invade Iraq and overthrow Saddam. The exact quote:

"Knowing these realities, America must not ignore the threat gathering against us. Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof - the smoking gun - that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."
Source: President Bush Outlines Iraqi Threat; Remarks by the President on Iraq, White House (10/7/2002).

Then there's Condi's quote:

"The problem here is that there will always be some uncertainty about how quickly he can acquire nuclear weapons. But we don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."
Source: Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, CNN (9/8/2002).

Then there was this quote from the Vice President on the eve of the invasion:

"He's had years to get good at it and we know he has been absolutely devoted to trying to acquire nuclear weapons. And we believe he has, in fact, reconstituted nuclear weapons."
Source: Meet the Press, NBC (3/16/2003).

So, according to our U.S. Senator, these 13-15 year old junkpiles of inactive gas canisters were what those three were referring to when they made their statements. Affter all, these were all uttered by the highest officials of our government as THE justification for invading Iraq. This is the record. Santorum is now saying these shells prove we were right in fighting this war, that they justify it.

I'll let each one of you judge for yourself if he's correct. Your test will be on November 7th at your local voting booth. If you agree with Rick Santorum about this issue vote for him. If not don't vote for him.