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.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

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Manipulating Gas Prices For Votes

Notice how gas prices are coming down as we get closer to election day? Isn't that a coincidence? We have an oilman in the Oval Office and another as VP, gas prices still remain much higher than when Bush took office but you're gleeful at finding a station with regular unleaded at $2.35. That's still 80 cents a gallon higher than in 2001. Oil companies are making profits per quarter that rival some third world countries annual GNP's.

If ExxonMobil, Shell, BP, Hess and the others can sell gas at these prices in an attempt to rescue their beloved leader they can do so year round. One side effect, go lock in these prices for your home heating oil NOW. I guarantee things will change quickly November 8th.

The Law of Intended Consequences

Spy agencies are saying the war in Iraq is hurting the war on terror. This is because it's creating terrorists faster than we can kill them. Funny but didn't many of us predict just this scenario before the invasion? Lots of people tried arguing this as a logical consequence to no avail. The White House wasn't listening to anyone outside its insular echo chamber. They heard what they wanted to hear and dismissed anyone who dared dissent.

Now we have the President and other Republican leaders saying we can't leave Iraq because it's a terrorist training ground. Yes, you made it so amid all kinds of advice predicting just that consequence. This was a very logical outcome of your policy and now you have to live with the consequence. Don't go around blaming us, as you love doing, for your failed policy.

How long are we going to stay there attracting more extremists and training them in the arts of terror? This wasn't even a matter of the law of unintended consequences. It was widely predicted as a likely outcome of the Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld policies. Don't go blaming Democrats for your own failures.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Bush Gets His Revenge on Chavez

Did Bush's White House get payback against Hugo Chavez? The Venezuelan's Foreign Minister was detained at the airport for a "secondary screening," something done to those put on the terrorist watch list, on his way back to Caracas. This, after Chavez called Bush a "devil" all week. Gee, and we wonder why Hugo doesn't like George W. Bush? Unfortunately this is how the Oval Office has worked for the past five years: they punish anyone who dares to cross them.

Will someone please send a book to Georgie to read on his next vacation: How to Win Friends and Influence People. Maybe the White House can put a Wish List on its website for gift ideas and someone can simply click on this one and have it sent. They could use a good reference for how to treat people because they don't understand that beating them over the heads isn't always the best tactic.

Senate Race GOTV

Here's a well written analysis of the Senate race and the GOTV. For those of you who don't eat, sleep, and drink politics GOTV means Get Out The Vote. It's your election day strategy to make sure your voters get to the polls. For Republicans it also means making sure Democrats don't. They use some clever tactics to do so, and have some recent criminal convictions as a result.

At any rate this analysis concludes, as I did in the Labor Day Sunday article by Carrie Budoff, that the race will likely come down to the GOTV efforts. Here are the numbers that concern me:

Look at the difference between the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004
in Pennsylvania. George W. Bush received about 693,000 more ballots in 2004 than
he did in 2000 - but still lost the state. The reason: John F. Kerry received
452,000 more ballots than Al Gore had received in 2000.

In other words the GOP developed a GOTV effort that brought them almost 700,000 new voters in 2004. That's huge folks. We Democrats were ecstatic about those 452,000 new voters but were outworked by the Republicans. They have a very good strategy for election day and they're prepared, though probably not at the 2004 level, for a very strong turnout. We have to assume so at any rate. We cannot bet the Santorum people didn't learn from Bush's success.

So what is Casey's team doing to get as many of those 452,000 new Dems out to vote November 7th? According to Ms. Budoff's article they're relying on local Party committees, unions, and the Rendell campaign. Wow, so much for do it yourself.... The bottom line is the Casey camp has NO GOTV effort. Zilch. They decided to run the standard DSCC media campaign rather than a grassroots field operation.

A field campaign is what Kerry/Edwards ran in 2004 that got those extra 452,000 Democrats to the polls. They had campaign offices set up around the state and targeted thousands of precincts for canvassing and phone banks. They identified who their voters were then had an election day strategy to make sure those voters got to the polls. I know because I helped organize their GOTV effort in Berks County.

The bottom line is, if you don't know who your voters are you cannot get your voters to the polls. You can't simply assume if someone is a "D" they're your vote and an "R" is for Santorum. You have to determine that by voter contact. Casey isn't doing any voter contact. They won't know if your Aunt Sadie is a Casey supporter or for Carl Romanelli. If she calls her local Democratic office for a ride to the polls it's even possible a committee person might be giving a ride to the polling place for a Santorum voter. No offense to Aunt Sadie but that's just stupid. There's too much at stake for stupidity to reign on election day.

I don't have a good feeling about this folks.
Santorum says one thing and does the opposite

Tricky Ricky's massive hypocrisy exposed once again.
Santorum Exposed Ad - Overtime

More fun with Rick's voting record.

More Pay Raise Coverage

As if we need it here's some more coverage of the pay raise issue. John Grogan of the Philly Inquirer has an excellent column comparing the Judges and lawmakers conduct to what a crooked handyman might do. Except our Judges and legislators get to keep their ill gotten loot. Of course they'll only keep it as long as they remain in office and we, as voters, know how long that will be, don't we?

Remember Supreme Court justices all must face the voters at some point. Every ten years they are on the ballot and we get to decide if they remain on the bench. Let's be sure to remember, especially Mr. Cappy. Meanwhile Grogan has some excellent advice:

It's time to shake them from their smug complacency. All House seats and half of the Senate seats are up for grabs Nov. 7.

Here's what you can do:

1. Find out who your elected representatives are by typing in your zip code at

2. Visit for an up-to-date list of how area lawmakers voted on the pay increase, who took the money, and who still has not repaid it.

3. Come Election Day, as you enter the voting booth, remember that your representatives work for you. Their hands have no place in the cookie jar.

PA Gun Dealer Agrees to Monitoring

As part of a settlement in a lawsuit brought by the City of New York a Stroudsburg area gun dealer agreed to sales monitoring. Dunkelberger's Sports Outfitters was sued because many of the guns it sold wound up being used in crimes in NYC and confiscated by police. Criminals take advantage of Pennsylvania's lax gun laws to "straw purchase" guns for criminals. Other people buy numerous guns at once then sell them on the streets in New York, Philadelphia and elsewhere.

Limiting sales to one gun per month per person could go a long way toward making our streets safer. This Tuesday there will be a large demonstration in Harrisburg by advocates of gun safety. Twenty five buses of people are going to descend on the capitol to demand action.

Spinach Crisis Continues Taking Toll

The great spinach crisis of 2006 is now affecting more Pennsylvanians as 79 workers were laid off at a plant in Dauphin County. The rash of e coli infections is having a tremendous impact on some people's lives, especially those dependent on Popeye to save them from bullies. The famous sailor has had his stash of spinach confiscated by the Department of Health. Without the power supply he's been relegated to lying on the beach and getting sand kicked in his face. School children all over the state are now at the mercy of playground toughs.

This is a serious situation and I'd like to know where our candidates stand on the issue. Who are they willing to draft to replace Popeye until the sailor man again gets a healthy supply of spinach?

Another Pennsylvanian Soldier Killed in Iraq

Sgt. Jennifer Marie Hartman of Tamaqua was killed by a suicide bomber on September 14th. The Schuylkill County resident was afraid of "getting blown up in Iraq." When she enlisted four years ago her Army recruiter promised she wouldn't be deployed to Iraq. That's one more story about how these recruiters say anything to meet their quotas.

Pennsylvania is second in states with the most fatalities in Iraq. Our people are paying the ultimate price. Why? Ms. Hartman died, according to President Bush, to honor those who died before her. Who will have to die to honor Jennifer Hartman?

Godspeed to Ms. Hartman and our thoughts and prayers go to her family and friends.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Santorum Exposed Ad - Loans

One of The Lantern Projects well done ads about Tricky Ricky's skewed priorities in the Senate.
Santorum: pursuit of happiness harms America

Whatever happened to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? Rick Santorum doesn't think you deserve the latter. His warped thinking here is completely backwards and is a mirror into how his mind works. Very disturbing...

Sure Sign the Governor's Race Is Over

If you had any doubts about the viability of Lynn Swann's campaign for the Governor's mansion this is it: Rendell is out raising money for legislative candidates and gave Bob Casey $200,000 from his own political supporters. Campaigning for local state House and Senate candidates just makes sense. Rendell needs a Democratic majority in at least one chamber and this is a great year to accomplish such change. The fact he's also helping the U.S. Senate candidate is significant, along with the amount.

Rendell has closely guarded the sources for his immense campaign warchests. Carrie Budoff reports he handed a fistfull of checks to the Casey organization at an event in Philadelphia. If Rendell is tapping his money people for Casey it means he's confident he has all h eneeds to win. The Guv is an old political hand. There's no way he'd do this if he thought there was an iota of a chance his own race would be close. Carrie reports:

Rendell, a prolific fund-raiser who once headed the Democratic National Committee, said asking his finance committee to work for Casey was difficult "because they raise so much money for me." The most recent reports showed Rendell with $13.7 million on hand and his Republican challenger, Lynn Swann, with $3.3 million.

Indeed, a half-hour before the event, one Rendell fund-raiser said a lot of "arm twisting" was going on to create a good showing.

A Casey spokesman said, "Bob appreciates all of his help."

This is something Republicans have been very good at for years: they shephard their cash resources to the candidates in need. It's good to see Rendell getting on board as a team player. Electing Dems to the state legislature will make his second term much easier and a Democratic Senator in Washington will provide him with more influence on the Federal level.

Unhappy Evangelicals

Let me get my crying towel handy. I just read where right wingnut evangelicals aren't happy with Republicans. It seems they may sit out this year's election because the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would write discrimination into the constitution, wasn't passed. These "values voters" (only their values, mind you), wanted Congress to drop every other issue of importance to the country and pass their agenda. Of course the top of their agenda is a ban on the fundamental rights of gays and lesbians. This was more important than the war, corruption, health care, prescription drugs, voting integrity or the deficit.

Of course Congress tried. They ignored all those big issues too and took up the right wingnut agenda. They attempted to pass the glbt discrimination act, a flag burning amendment, poll taxes, the Terri Schiavo vegetable resusitation act, and other garbage. They simply didn't have the votes for most of it (the Schaivo legislation passed the Senate 3-0 in the middle of the night). See, our sytem says the majority rules. It also protects the rights of minorities, much to their dismay.

I'll really miss their participation in November's election. Here, let me get my crying towel....

Bush, Musharraf and Osama

I watched the press conference by Presidents Bush and Musharraf this morning (my DSL is out again, by the way) and the revelation that the Pakistani President made a statement to CBS that Richard Armitage told him to cooperate or be bombed back to the stone age. Lots of news there so let's take a look.

How is it news that right after 9/11 our Department of State told this guy this? We'd just been attacked and his country was implicit. They supported the Taliban and Al Qaeda and parts of Pakistan were, and are, being used as hideouts for Osama and his cronies. I'd have told him the same thing. What's more, if he hadn't cooperated they would be back in the stone age today.

Of course Bush said something very stupid on CNN the other day. He said we'd invade Pakistan if it meant killing or capturing Osama bin Forgotten. You don't say something like that in public. This was as bad a violation of diplomacy and protocol as what Chavez said. Some things are only meant to be spoken in confidence and behind closed doors, as Armitage did. Bush's statement greatly undermines Musharraf in his country and makes it more difficult to get Osama.

George Bush keeps making these huge mistakes when it comes to getting the Al qaeda leader. It makes one wonder....

If we must enter Pakistan to capture Osama we should. Any country, for that matter. I sincerely doubt any country would really challenge us if/when we do. They have to bluster and shout publicly for appearances sake but no one would challenge our right to get this monster. You just don't say so publicly and undermine the authority of their leader and, essentially, say you have no respect for their sovereignty. That was stupid and led to this morning's press conference.

Interestingly Musharraf used the event to push his new book. I'm sure our readers at Simon and Shuster were excited to see all the free publicity. Heck, no one has said Pervez is stupid.

Political Corruption at HUD Revealed

Let's recap just some of the politicization of the federal government under Bush: paying reporters, media pundits and journalists to push propaganda; using the Social Security Administration to publish propaganda saying its benefits need to be privatized; the screening of people going to Iraq to work in reconstruction so only the most loyal Bush people got jobs; and today the revelation that the head of HUD instructed that contracts only go to loyal Bush supporters. Folks this is called PATRONAGE, or pay for play.

It means that, in order to get a job or contracts you must contribute or support the Administration and is corruption personified. At the same time this Administration was prosecuting government officials in Philadelphia they were doing the same thing. Who investigates the investigators? This reminds me of the request I made for investigation into whether my phone calls and internet activites were being eavesdropped on by NSA and the FBI. It was referred to the FBI! So much for oversight by my Congressman, Blue Dog Democrat Tim Holden.

Today's accusations against Alphonso Jackson include:

His chief of staff told investigators that Jackson, the HUD secretary, "personally intervened with contractors whom he did not like . . . these contractors had Democratic political affiliations," says the report, a copy of which was made available to The Washington Post.

Calls for an inquiry came after Jackson, Bush's onetime neighbor in Dallas and former housing authority chief in that city, told attendees at a public forum in Dallas on April 28 that he had killed a contract award to a firm after its chief told Jackson he disliked Bush. Jackson later took back his remarks and told investigators from the inspector general's office that he had "lied, and I regret having done that."

Wow, a high ranking member of the Bush Administration admits having lied. Now THAT'S news. These cronies don't admit to anything and are perfect, never making mistakes. After all, VP Cheney just said on Meet the Press that knowing what we know now, we'd invade Iraq again and in the same way. If that gross stupidity and incompetence ins't enough to rattle your cage consider this.

If Bush is indeed "losing it" and is removed under the 25th Amendment guess who our new President is?

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Random Thoughts

The new blog is almost ready. If you want you can go take a look and provide feedback. I really do want comments and suggestions. If there's anything I can do to improve it before we go online let me know. I'd like more blue color but Typepad doesn't have many templates to choose from and I don't do much html. I still have to import all the articles from here so don't freak out about that aspect yet. It's still in test phase. Don't bookmark it on that url yet because you can get there with this: Much simpler.

I saw some interesting things in various blogs as I was testing the links on the new blog. You might want to check these blogposts:

Firedoglake: A video between Jane Hamsher and Keith Olberman about the blogs and the blogger conference with Bill Clinton.

Suburban Guerilla: Tells where NOT to buy a car if you're around Philadelphia.

Pam's House Blend: How some young glbt folk tried to enlist and what happened.

2 Political Junkies: Video of Hugo Chavez at the UN.

Above Average Jane: How Tommy Tomlinson has a double standard when it comes to fundraising.

Froth: A huge landslide outside Pittsburgh due to Wal Mart construction. A must see picture.

Fact-esque: eRobin does an excellent analysis of the voting mess in Maryland.

Gort42: Tells how all the lawyers around Scranton survived Cheney's visit Monday. It must not be quail season.
Santorum Caught Lying

More video of Rick Santorum lying to Pennsylvanians. Get with it Rick, you can't do this kind of campaigning anymore. Everything you lie about is winding up on the internet and blogs.
Rick Santorum Throws a Tantrum

Rick says he doesn't pay any taxes in Virginia? I bet the other property owners In Leesburg will be curious to learn that. The bottom line is he doesn't live in the Penn Hills School District so those taxpayers shouldn't bear the burden of educating his children. Schools are only supposed to pay to educate those who LIVE in their districts.

Bush's Unsettling Behavior

Is George W. Bush losing it? Is all the pressure and stress of sending people off to die for a lie finally getting to him? Or is it the pressure of continuing to have to stay with a failed strategy that no one supports? Having to lie repeatedly certainly can take a toll on one's soul. He IS losing it though. Watch his recent appearances and his aggressiveness, hostility, attitude, and behavior are quite disturbing.

The Huffington Post has an article about it today. Combine that with his recent press conference when he went off on David Gregory of NBC News. Then did you watch the interview with CNN's Wolf Blitzer yesterday? When Wolf asked Bush why he refused to even meet with Iran's Ahmadinejad while both were at the UN the President got very aggressive, leaning forward and talking nonsense.

He was talking nonsense because he doesn't comprehend the importance of at least sitting down and trying to come to an agreement face to face before simply marching off to war. This man makes up his mind to invade someone then there's no changing it. Not making EVERY effort to find a resolution short of war. Not making war ONLY a last resort. Only a madman would refuse to meet and try to forge a diplomatic solution when the opportunity arises. Bush's reaction to the idea? Ridicule.

This behavior is beginning to form a pattern and it isn't good.

Keystone Poll Results: Rendell & Casey Still Lead

The new Keystone Poll is out and Ed Rendell and Bob Casey still lead their GOP challengers. In the Guv race Fast Eddie is ahead by 52%-34% with 14% undecided. The Senate race shows the Democrat leading by a smaller margin 45%-38%. Carl Romanelli, if he makes it onto the ballot, was getting 5%. 12% are undecided and should expect quite a bit of attention the next seven weeks.

Rendell's lead is significant. He's over the magic 50% + 1 needed to win. Even if all the undecideds go for Swann (which is highly unlikely) he still wins. Undecideds generally fall to the incumbent. Voters are usually reluctant these days to evict someone in office unless the challenger provides compelling reasons to do so. Swann obviously hasn't. Many voters are worried the man has no idea what he's talking about and fear his being in the Governor's mansion. He hasn't illustrated any grasp of the issues as yet and that has people scared.

The Senate race is another story. Though polls have shown Casey ahead all along his lead keeps shrinking and he isn't over the 50% number. The 5% going to Romanelli could be the tie breaker. This is why it was so foolish to give the man all the tons of publicity they did over the ballot issue. No one would even have known about the guy otherwise. The Casey campaign continues making serious missteps. Can they play a four corners defense and run out the clock? Probably not against a good, seasoned campaign staff at Sanitorium headquarters.

This race may play out on the role of the 527 organizations. The Vote Vet ad below is very powerful and could persuade a lot of voters. Many different groups are targeting this race and will be heard from between now and November 7th. My suspicion is they could hurt Santorum quite seriously, bringing up all his very vulnerable attributes and troubling votes. Can his GOTV effort counter this? We'll know on November 8th.

Are Iraqis Better Off?

The torture situation in Iraq is out of control. According to the United Nations the conditions there are worse now than under Saddam Hussein. The sectarian civil war resulted in 6,600 people dead in just July and August, many tortured, beaten, and/or mutilated. These people were killed because of their religious affiliation. Sunnis are killing Shia and vice versa.

Meanwhile supplies of running water, electricity and sewage are spotty. There is no security even for journalists. None for Iraqis. There aren't many jobs and unemployment, last I checked, was at 60%.

Yet President Bush continues to maintain that Iraq is better off without Saddam Hussein in power. The people of Iraq disagree. Estimates are that some 40,000+ Iraqis are dead directly because of our invasion. Not even Saddam was that brutal to these people. Look at these pictures of life in Iraq. Do you really truly believe these people are better off?

Thailand's Coup

The coup in Thailand the other day was significant. News is beginning to seep out about the new leaders and decisions being made which are worrisome. The military overthrew the democratic prime minister while he was in New York for the opening of the UN session. The suspended the nation's constitution, installed a general in power and are demanding control over the media. They claim they'll have elections at the end of 2007 but don't hold your breath. These people don't appear to have any democratic bones in their bodies.

I listened to a spokesman for the new regime on NPR's BBC newscast this morning. It was worrisome. Thailand was already scheduled for elections in several months. He wouldn't answer as to why, if the military was concerned about "a division in the country" they couldn't have waited for the election to resolve things properly. Probably because their faction is the minority and would not have prevailed in free and open elections. Why else stage a coup?

He kept contradicting himself, first insisting there were no restrictions on the media. The interview immediately preceding had been with a journalist who said otherwise. The spokesman finally conceded there were restrictions on "political media to prevent confusion." Prevent confusion??? You suspend the right to free speech based on worries about sowing confusion? I suspect the confusion the new regime wants to constrict is about freedom and democracy. They don't want the Thai people to become confused that they live in a democracy. They don't any longer.

Hugo Chavez

News reports are all abuzz over Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's remarks at the UN. He went after George W. Bush with zeal and abandon calling him the "devil" eight times. Condescending Rice, the US Secretary of State refused to comment on the statements other than a terse

"not becoming for a head of state."

I agree with Rice on that score. Comments like these were incendiary and very undiplomatic:

"Yesterday, the devil came here," Chavez said, referring to Bush's speech Tuesday to the General Assembly. "Right here. Right here. And it smells of sulfur still today, this table that I am now standing in front of."

He then made the sign of the cross, brought his hands together as if praying, and looked up at the ceiling.

"Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the president of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world," Chavez said. "Truly. As the owner of the world."

Very unstatesmanlike. I can't imagine what could have prompted a leader like Chavez to be so rude? Was it the attempted coup that Bush financed and organized against him in 2002? I can see where someone might hold a grudge about something like that...

Maybe it was our imperialistic ambitions to make every country in the world do what we want them to do? Perhaps it was our illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq? Our war mongering and sabre rattling? Our massive trade deficits and refusal to recognize the problems of stark poverty, hunger, AIDS, genocide, and global warming?

Who really knows what prompted such discourteous and rude remarks about our President. I simply cannot comprehend why the rest of the world is so angry at America. Abu Ghraib. Guantanamo. Extraordinary rendition. Secret prisons. Torture. No idea whatsoever folks. How could the world be so angry as to turn to a man like Hugo Chavez as their leader and spokesman? And allow him to come to New York, in Bush's back yard, and say such awful things about the (Abdicated) Leader of the Free World?

Do you have an explanation? I'm baffled.

Here's the bottom line, though. The President of the United States was ridiculed and demonized at the UN by the leader of a third world country and everyone sat there laughing and applauding. Not one arose and defended Bush. This is what America has come to. This is how Bush has shamed us.

News and Notes

Progress on the new site for the blog is progressing nicely. I think we'll be ready next week. We're moving to Typepad and will have more features and things than are available here at Blogger. Mostly we won't have to deal with Blogger being down as frequently as happens. Also, and this will make things much easier for our readers, the url will simply be

On the downside we'll be losing Raven as a contributor. She has gotten a transfer and so will not be having time to blog. I've asked a good friend who has posted here often as a guest columnist to fill her shoes and he has agreed. Welcome Kirk. If you are in Pennsylvania and wouldlike to cover your part of it for this blog please let me know. I know we're missing news from western PA and would love to find someone from that area.

The other downside is cost. Though there are costs incurred here Typepad will involve more expenses for me. As is obvious I spend a good deal of time doing this blog. The new blog will include a "Tip Jar" for those who might wish to help defray the expenses for the blog. All contributions will be very gratefully accepted.

All the old posts and articles will follow us to Typepad so we won't lose the archives. I'll keep this old site alive awhile for those who'll need a reference to point them to the new one. It may take a few days after we transfer for all the feeds to get set up and/or transferred so please bear with me. One of the nice features of Sitemeter is I know which ones everyone is using.

This is a very busy weekend around Berks County and I'll be at the Oley Fair tonight, a Planned Parenthood Advocates Board meeting Saturday, then the Renewable Energy festival and Riverfest. Lots going on and I'll try to get some good pictures. Posting may be light as I get everywhere though.
Rick Santorum - Body Armor

Make sure everyone you know watches this ad by Vote Vets.
Social Security, in Ecolanguage

This is an excellent explanation of the Social Security "crisis" as invented by the White House. Will someone PLEASE get Bob Casey to watch this? Maybe then he'll know what he's talking about.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Santorum, Weldon Land on "Most Corrupt" List

Our very own Tricky Ricky Santorum and 7th CD Congressman Curt Weldon both landed on CREW's list of the most corrupt lawmakers in Washington. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington compiles the list based on their standards. I'm sure all Pennsylvanians swell with pride at the fact our Junior Senator made the list along with one of our Congressmen.

Here's the full list:

CREW’s Most Corrupt Members of Congress:

Members of the Senate:

Conrad Burns (R-MT)
Bill Frist (R-TN)
Rick Santorum (R-PA)

Members of the House:

Alan Mollohan (D-WV)
Roy Blunt (R-MO)
Marilyn Musgrave (R-CO)
Ken Calvert (R-CA)
Richard Pombo (R-CA)
John Doolittle (R-CA)
Rick Renzi (R-AZ)
Tom Feeney (R-FL)
Pete Sessions (R-TX)
Katherine Harris (R-FL)
John Sweeney (R-NY)
William Jefferson (D-LA)
Charles Taylor (R-NC)
Jerry Lewis (R-CA)
Maxine Waters (D-CA)
Gary Miller (R-CA)
Curt Weldon (R-PA)

JoePa's Salary Controversy

Being a Penn State alumnus this news caught my interest. There's been an ongoing legal battle whether to make Joe Paterno's salary public information. The state Supreme Court (please hold your ridicule) has decided to review the case. I understand this isn't an earth shattering issue but it is of interest to the many PSU grads and should be to taxpayers. See, Penn State is a state related university, meaning it gets some (lower and lower as the years go on) of its funding from the state (ergo, taxpayers).

The argument is whether JoePa's salary (along with a few others) should be public information. Why not? He is, at least partially, a public employee. Regardless of the amount I doubt many Pennsylvanians are going to protest or begrudge the money this man earns. In my humble opinion he's deserving. In spite of the recent seasons that weren't so hot on the field he's brought dignity, tradition, recognition, and success to the University. And a few wins on the football field.

Even those of us who thought it was time for retirement recently I cannot dispute the man's value. His value as a man, a role model, a leader. No amount of money can properly compensate him for the work he's done over the years (and, heck, he was head coach when I began at PSU in 1970 so that's a LOT of years) with all the young men he's coached and the lives he's touched.

There's nothing to be risked making this info public. If anyone has a beef with his salary, tough.

Bush's Attention Deficit Disorder

I've come to the conclusion George Bush has ADHD. He can't seem to concentrate on anything for long. No sooner were we in Afghanistan, going after Osama and Mullah Omar than he got bored, pulled the troops, and invaded Iraq. Now he's bored with Iraq and wants to move on to Iran.

George, clean up one mess before you make a new one. Didn't your mother teach you anything?

Bush Says No Plan to Attack Iran

President Bush claims there is no plan for invading or attacking Iran. Surprise, surprise. There wasn't a plan for Iraq either but it didn't prevent that debacle.

The REAL First Draft of Bush's UN Speech

We've obtained the top secret first draft of President Bush's UN speech. The address, given yesterday, was originally much different.....

Mr. Secretary General, Madam President, distinguished delegates, and ladies and gentlemen: I want to thank you for the privilege of speaking to this General Assembly.

Last week,


and the world marked the fifth anniversary of the attacks that filled another September morning with death and suffering. On that terrible day, I again used the solemn occaission to politicize the attacks extremists killed nearly 3,000 innocent people, including citizens of dozens of nations represented right here in this chamber. Since then, the enemies of humanity have continued their campaign of murder. Al Qaeda and those inspired by its extremist ideology have attacked more than two dozen nations. And recently a different group of extremists deliberately provoked a terrible conflict in


. At the start of the 21st century, it is clear that the world is engaged in a great ideological struggle, between extremists like me who use terror as a weapon to create fear, and moderate people who work for peace.

Five years ago, I stood at this podium and called on the community of nations to defend civilization and build a more hopeful future. This is still the great challenge of our time; it is the calling of our generation. This morning, I want to speak about the more hopeful world that is within our reach, a world beyond terror, where ordinary men and women are free to determine their own destiny, where the voices of moderation are empowered, and where the extremists, like myself, are marginalized by the peaceful majority. This world can be ours if we seek it and if we work together.

The principles of this world beyond terror can be found in the very first sentence of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This document declares that the "equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom and justice and peace in the world." One of the authors of this document was a Lebanese diplomat named Charles Malik, who would go on to become President of this Assembly. Mr. Malik insisted that these principles apply equally to all people, of all regions, of all religions, including the men and women of the Arab world that was his home.

In the nearly six decades since that document was approved, we have seen the forces of freedom and moderation transform entire continents. Sixty years after a terrible war, Europe is now whole, free, and at peace -- and Asia has seen freedom progress and hundreds of millions of people lifted out of desperate poverty. The words of the Universal Declaration are as true today as they were when they were written. As liberty flourishes, nations grow in tolerance and hope and peace. And we're seeing that bright future begin to take root in the broader Middle East.

Some of the changes in the Middle East have been dramatic, and we see the results in this chamber. Five years ago, Afghanistan was ruled by the brutal Taliban regime, and its seat in this body was contested. Now this seat is held by the freely elected government of Kabul Afghanistan, which is represented today by President Karzai. Five years ago, Iraq's seat in this body was held by a dictator who killed his citizens, invaded his neighbors, and showed his contempt for the world by defying more than a dozen U.N. Security Council resolutions. A man I've allowed to escape and survive to fight us anew Now Iraq's seat is held by a democratic puppet government that embodies the aspirations of the Iraq people, who's represented today by President Talabani. With these changes, more than 50 million people have been given a voice in this chamber for the first time in decades.

Some of the changes in the Middle East are happening gradually, but they are real. Algeria has held its first competitive presidential election, and the military remained neutral. The United Arab Emirates recently announced that half of the seats in its Federal National Council will be chosen by elections. Kuwait held elections in which women were allowed to vote and run for office for the first time. Citizens have voted in municipal elections in Saudi Arabia, in parliamentary elections in Jordan and Bahrain, and in multiparty presidential elections in Yemen and Egypt. These are important steps, and the governments should continue to move forward with other reforms that show they trust their people. Every nation that travels the road to freedom moves at a different pace, and the democracies they build will reflect their own culture and traditions. Some of us are reversing the course of democracy. But the destination is the same: A world where I'm the Dictator free society where people live at peace with each other and at peace with the world.

Some All have argued that the democratic changes we're seeing in the Middle East are destabilizing the region. This argument rests on a false assumption, that the Middle East was stable to begin with. The reality is that the stability we thought we saw in the Middle East was a mirage. For decades, millions of men and women in the region have been trapped in oppression and hopelessness. And these conditions left a generation disillusioned, and made this region a breeding ground for extremism. I decided to capitalize on that misery and compound it.

Imagine what it's like to be a young person living in a country that is not moving toward reform. You're 21 years old, and while your peers in other parts of the world are casting their ballots for the first time, you are powerless to change the course of your government. You're in a country with no jobs, no peace, no security, no clean water and no hope so you become a suicide bomber. While your peers in other parts of the world have received educations that prepare them for the opportunities of a global economy, you have been fed propaganda and conspiracy theories that blame others for your country's shortcomings. And everywhere you turn, you hear extremists who tell you that you can escape your misery and regain your dignity through violence and terror and martyrdom. For many across the broader America Middle East, this is the dismal choice presented every day.

Every civilized nation, including those in the Muslim world, must support those in the region who are offering a more hopeful alternative. We know that when people have a job voice in their future, they are less likely to blow themselves up in suicide attacks. We know that when leaders are accountable to their people, they are more likely to seek national greatness in the achievements of their citizens, rather than in terror and conquest. So we must stand with democratic leaders and moderate reformers across the broader Middle East. We must give them voice to the hopes of decent men and women who want for their children the same things we want for ours. We must seek stability through a free and just Middle East where the extremists are marginalized by millions of dollars citizens in control of their own destinies.

Today, I'd like to speak directly to the people across the broader Middle East: My country desires imperialist conquest peace. Extremists in our your midst spread propaganda claiming that the West is engaged in a crusade war against Islam. My This propaganda is false, and its purpose is to confuse you and justify acts of terror. We respect Islam, but we will protect our people from those who pervert Christianity Islam to sow death and destruction. Our goal is to help you build a more tolerant and hopeful society that honors people of all faiths and promote the peace.

To the people of Iraq: Nearly 12 million of you braved the car bombers and assassins last December to vote in free elections. The world saw you hold up purple ink-stained fingers, and your courage filled us with admiration. You've stood firm in the face of our horrendous acts of terror and civil war sectarian violence -- and we will not abandon you in your struggle to build a puppet regime free nation. America and our coalition partners will continue to stand with the puppet democratic government I appointed you elected. We will finally help you continue to help you secure the international assistance and investment you need to create jobs and opportunity, working to undermine with the United Nations and through the International Compact with Iraq endorsed here in New York yesterday. We will continue to train those of you who stepped forward to fight my aggression the enemies of freedom. We will not yield the future of your country to terrorists and extremists like myself. In return, your leaders must rise to the challenges your country is facing, and make difficult choices to bring security and prosperity. Working together, we will help your civil war democracy succeed, so it can become a beacon of hope for millions in the Muslim world.

To the people of Afghanistan: Together, we overthrew the Taliban regime that brought misery into your lives and harbored terrorists who brought death to the citizens of many nations. Since then, we have watched you choose your leaders in free elections and build a puppet democratic government. You can be proud of these achievements. We respect your courage, and your determination to live in peace and freedom. We will continue to stand with you to defend your democratic gains just not with American troops. Today forces from more than 40 countries, including members of the NATO Alliance, are bravely serving side-by-side with you against the extremists who want to bring down the free government you've established. We'll help you defeat these enemies as long as it doesn't interfere with my wars against Iraq and Iran and build a free Afghanistan that will never again oppress you, or be a safe haven for terrorists.

To the people of Lebanon: Last year, you inspired the world when you came out into the streets to demand your independence from Syrian dominance. You drove Syrian forces from your country and you reestablished democracy. Since then, you have been tested by the fighting that began with Hezbollah's defense of Palestinians in Gaza unprovoked attacks on Israel. Many of you have seen your homes and communities destroyed by American bombs caught in crossfire. We see your suffering, and the world is helping you to rebuild your country, and helping you deal with the armed extremists who are undermining your democracy by acting as a state within a state. The United Nations has finally, after allowing hundreds of your citizens to be murdered passed a good resolution that has authorized an international force, led by France and Italy, to help you restore Lebanese sovereignty over Lebanese soil. For many years, Lebanon was a model of democracy and pluralism and openness in the region -- and it will be again.

To the people of Iran: The United States respects you; we respect your country. We admire your rich history, your vibrant culture, and your many contributions to civilization. You deserve an opportunity to determine your own future, an economy that rewards your intelligence and your talents, and a society that allows you to fulfill your tremendous potential. The greatest obstacle to this future is that your rulers have chosen to deny you my leadership as your Supreme Leader liberty and to use your nation's resources to check and balance my imperialistic ambitions fund terrorism, and fuel extremism, and pursue nuclear technology weapons. The United Nations has passed a clear resolution requiring that the regime in Tehran meet its international obligations. Iran must abandon its nuclear tachnology weapons ambitions. Despite what the regime tells you, we have an obvious problem no objection to Iran's pursuit of a truly peaceful nuclear power program. We're working toward a military diplomatic solution to this crisis. And as we do, we look to the day when you can live in freedom unlike what I envision for Amerika -- and America and Iran can be good friends and close partners in the cause of war peace.

To the people of Syria: Your land is home to a great people with a proud tradition of torture learning and commerce. Today your rulers have allowed your country to become a crossroad for terrorism and I thank you for assisting my torture program. In your midst, America, Hamas and Hezbollah are working to destabilize the region, and your government is turning your country into a tool of the USA Iran. This is increasing your country's isolation from the world. Your My government must choose a better way forward by ending its support for terror, and living in peace with our your neighbors, and opening the way to a better life for you and your families.

To the people of Darfur: You have suffered unspeakable violence, and my nation has called these atrocities what they are -- genocide. I wish I'd done something, anything, to help. For the last two years, America joined with the international community to provide emergency food aid and support for an African Union peacekeeping force. Yet your suffering continues. The world must step forward to provide additional humanitarian aid -- and we must strengthen the African Union force that has done good work, but is not strong enough to protect you. The Security Council has approved a resolution that would transform the African Union force into a blue-helmeted force that is larger and more robust. To increase its strength and effectiveness, NATO nations should provide logistics and other support. The regime in Khartoum is stopping the deployment of this force. If the Sudanese government does not approve this peacekeeping force quickly, the United Nations must act. Your lives and the credibility of the United Nations is at stake. So today I'm announcing that I'm naming a Presidential Special Envoy -- former USAID Administrator Andrew Natsios -- to lead America's efforts to resolve the outstanding disputes and help bring peace to your land.

The world must also stand up for peace in the Holy Land. I'm committed to two democratic states -- Israel and Palestine -- living side-by-side in peace and security. I'm committed to a Palestinian state that has territorial integrity and will live peacefully with the Jewish state of Israel. This is the vision set forth in the road map -- and helping the parties reach this goal is one of the great objectives of my presidency. I've been unwilling, however, to do anything to advance peace in the region. The Palestinian people have suffered from decades of no jobs, no peace, no hope, no assistance from America, corruption and violence and the daily humiliation of occupation. Israeli citizens have inflicted endured brutal acts of terrorism and constant fear of attack against the people of Gaza since the birth of their nation. Many brave men and women have made the commitment to war and violence peace. Yet extremists in the region like myself are stirring up hatred and trying to prevent these moderate voices from prevailing.

This struggle is unfolding in the Palestinian territories. Earlier this year, the Palestinian people voted in a free election. The leaders of Hamas campaigned on a platform of ending corruption and improving the lives of the Palestinian people, and they prevailed. So I cut off our aid to them. The world is waiting to see whether the Hamas government will follow through on its promises, or pursue an extremist agenda. And the world has sent a clear message to the leaders of Hamas: Serve the interests of the Palestinian people. Abandon terror, recognize Israel's right to exist, honor agreements, and work for peace.

President Abbas is committed to peace, and to his people's aspirations for a state of their own. Prime Minister Olmert is committed to violence peace, and has said he intends to meet with President Abbas to make real progress on the outstanding issues between them. I believe Armageddon peace can be achieved, and that a democratic Palestinian state is possible. I hear from leaders in the region who want to help. I've directed Secretary of State Rice to lead a diplomatic effort to engage moderate leaders across the region, to help the Palestinians reform their security services, and support Israeli and Palestinian leaders in their efforts to come together to resolve their differences. Though I won't provide any funds. Prime Minister Blair has indicated that his country will work with partners in Europe to help strengthen the governing institutions of the Palestinian administration. We welcome his initiative. Countries like Saudi Arabia and Jordan and Egypt have made clear they're willing to contribute the diplomatic and financial assistance necessary to help these efforts succeed. I'm optimistic that by supporting the forces of democracy and moderation, we can help Israelis and Palestinians build a more hopeful future and achieve the peace in a Holy Land we all want.

Freedom, by its nature, cannot be imposed as I've learned quite painfully in Iraq -- it must be chosen. From Beirut to Baghdad, people are making the choice for freedom. And the nations gathered in this chamber must make a choice, as well: Will we support the moderates and reformers who are working for change across the Middle East -- or will we yield the future to the terrorists and extremists? America has made its choice: We will become stand with the terrorists and extremists moderates and reformers.

Recently a courageous group of Arab and Muslim intellectuals wrote me a letter. In it, they said this: "The shore of reform is the only one on which any lights appear, even though the journey demands courage and patience and perseverance." The United Nations was created to make that journey possible. Together we must support the dreams of good and decent people who are working to transform a troubled region -- and by doing so, we will advance the high ideals on which this institution was founded.

Thank you for your time. God bless.

Twenty Questions For Bush About Iraq

The Center for American Progress has produced 20 questions for President Bush regarding his Iraq policy. Here they are:

1. How does the Bush administration define precisely what it means for the
Iraqi security forces to “stand up?”

2. What incentives exist today for the Iraqi leadership to take greater
responsibility for its own affairs?

3. What’s the status of a new National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq's
instability and the possibility of civil war?

4. Has “Operation Together Forward” in Baghdad achieved sufficient progress
in stabilizing Iraq’s capital?

5. What is the status of the efforts to defeat Al Qaeda in Iraq?

6. What is the Bush administration's cost-to-completion estimate for its
Iraq policy?

7. Which agency has primary responsibility for each of the action items
outlined in the Bush administration’s Iraq strategy?

8. What are the Bush administration’s contingency plans for helping address
the growing problem of internally displaced Iraqis?

9. What is the status of the efforts to disband militias that operate
independently from the Iraqi government?

10. Does the Bush administration stand by its original certification that
Iraq has not undermined the effort against terrorism?

11. What is the administration's plan for rebuilding the damage done to the
Army and Marines?

12. What is the plan to support and protect the Military Transition Teams
assisting Iraqi troops?

13. What are the Bush administration’s long-term plans for construction of
American military installations in Iraq?

14. What is the status of provincial reconstruction teams for Iraq
reconstruction and what have each of these teams achieved thus far?

15. What are the specific priority action items for diplomatic and
development assistance with Iraq's political transition and democratic

16. What contingency plans does the Bush administration have in place if
Iraqi leaders decide to set up a system that decentralizes power?

17. What is the Bush administration’s strategy to stabilize northern Iraq,
which has seen cross-border strikes by Turkish and Iranian forces against
Kurdish rebel groups, such as the Kurdistan Workers Party, and what plans does
the Bush administration have to keep tensions from spilling over in

18. Why isn’t the administration rushing to field new technologies that can
protect our troops from RPGs, the second-most deadly weapon used by the Iraqi

19. What is the Bush administration’s plan to ensure that assistance
pledged by other international donors is delivered?

20. What is the status of the international compact for Iraq, similar to
the one formed for Afghanistan?

For more detail on each of these questions please refer to the article via this link.

These are important queries. The President and many Republicans seeking election in November are supporting the war and pledging to "stay the course." Unfortunately the Administration has no plan other than rhetoric, as these questions illustrate. As an informed voter it's up to you to ask your local, regional and statewide candidates these questions if they purport to support the President's policy.

If a Republican incumbent Senator or Congressperson can't answer these ask why they haven't required the answers from the White House. How can anyone propose to "stay the course" unless they've gotten answers to the above questions? It's essential for Congress to demand oversight and accountability. If your GOP incumbent does not have the answers to these questions ask why they feel they're qualified to be returned to office.

Voter ID Law is Dismissed

A judge in Georgia has dismissed that state's Voter Identification law as unconstitutional. The law required all voters to produce an ID in order to vote. Such "poll tax" rules were also in force during the bad old days of segregation and were meant to prevent African Americans from voting.

The new Voter ID laws are designed to reduce the number of Democrats from voting. Because the poor are much more likely not to drive or own cars many of them do not have state issued licenses or ID's. The new laws were a strategy developed by Republicans to capitalize on the situation to depress voter turnout in highly Democratic precincts. The requirement also would lengthen the time required to process voters making lines longer and slower. The longer and slower voter lines are the less likely voters are to vote.

This effort has been introduced here in Pennsylvania, by Republicans of course. Similar legislation is up for a vote in Washington:

Like the Georgia law, the federal legislation would almost certainly be challenged in court. A coalition of interest and civil rights groups, including the NAACP, AARP, and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, denounced the bill yesterday, saying it would disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of minority and elderly voters.

The law is the same as a poll tax because it requires an ID that voters must pay to receive:

Last year, U.S. District Judge Harold L. Murphy issued an injunction against the law, likening it to a segregation-era poll tax because the digital picture ID would cost voters $20.

Requiring voters to pay for their right to vote is unAmerican. It's nothing more than vote suppression.

Frist's Filibuster Hypocrisy

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has been caught with his hypocrisy showing. After all this fear mongering and sharp rhetoric the past few years about the evils of filibusters he's threatening to filibuster the dissident's bill on detainnee's rights. So Mr. Frist, filibuster's aren't quite the evil force you called them are they? Useful when you want to use the tactic? Excuse me but your hypocrisy is a bit unsettling.

When Democrats threatened to filibuster Bush's radical judicial appointments Frist was in an uproar. How dare a minority use a technical strategy to derail an "up or down vote" he supported. What's wrong with allowing the McCain/Warner/Graham bill an up or down vote if you're so sanctimonious?

Speaking to the Federalist Society on November 12, Frist said filibustering judicial nominees is "radical. It is dangerous and it must be overcome." [1] Frist called judicial filibusters "nothing less than a formula for tyranny by the minority." When Bill Clinton was President, however, Frist engaged in the same behavior he is now condemning.

"There are times in history where you have to change either the rules or the precedent based on external behavior," he said.

In other words, what's good for me is bad for you. The rules are only applied as I see fit. If I don't like them I'll change them.

"There is no need for change in relation to legislative matters," Frist said in a statement issued before GOP senators met for their weekly policy meeting.

So the evils of filibusters only apply to judicial appointments, not legislation. If they're so awful and anti-democratic then ban them altogether. Oops, then you wouldn't have this opportunity to flip flop on the principle and block opposition to the President's Torture Permission Program.

Let's review for a moment: it's bad, really bad, to filibuster extremist judicial nominees but alright to filibuster in support of torture. I'm beginning to get a good sense of this man, Senator Bill Frist and his character. Let's examine a few other facets of this man's character since he wants to be President:

For years, Frist was criticized for holding HCA stock while directing legislation on Medicare reform and patient issues. His office has consistently deflected criticism by noting that his assets were in a blind trust and not under his active control.

Frist asked a trustee to sell all his HCA stock in June, near a 52-week stock price peak of $58.40 and at the same time HCA insiders were selling off shares. Reports to the Securities and Exchange Commission showed insiders sold about 2.3 million shares, worth about $112 million, from January through June, said Mark LoPresti of Thomson Financial.

Except the trust wasn't very "blind" at all:

Frist, R-Tenn., received regular updates of transfers of assets to his blind trusts and sales of assets. He also was able to initiate a stock sale of a hospital chain founded by his family with perfect timing. Shortly after the sale this summer, the stock price dived.

Now let's review his impeccable medical credentials. Mr. Frist is actually Dr. Frist, a surgeon:

Dr. Frist, as he likes to be known, didn't just make his case as a pro-lifer. He invoked his expertise as a member of the medical profession. "I close this evening speaking more as a physician than as a U.S. senator," Frist said during the March 17 debate on the bill forcing a federal review of the case.

Proffering references to medical textbooks and journals, Frist led his colleagues through to his conclusion. He argued that "a decision had been made to starve to death a woman based on a clinical exam that took place over a very short period of time by a neurologist who was called in to make the diagnosis rather than over a longer period of time." Dr. Frist, in other words, was offering a second opinion.

In an appearance yesterday on ABC's "Good Morning America," Frist insisted: "I raised the question, 'Is she in a persistent vegetative state or not?' I never made the diagnosis, never said that she was not."

Well, that depends on the meaning of "diagnosis." In the midst of his impressively detailed medical review, Frist declared flatly: "Terri's brother told me Terri laughs, smiles, and tries to speak. That doesn't sound like a woman in a persistent vegetative state."

So, Frist wanted to be seen as having the medical expertise to support his conclusion when doing so was convenient -- and now wants us to think he did nothing of the sort.

During the Terri Schaivo controversy Dr. Frist offered his expert medical opinion, based only upon watching an edited video, that Ms. Schaivo was NOT in a persistant vegetative state. The autopsy said her brain was mush. So much either for his medical qualifications or his character, one of which was trashed in this case.

Now Dr. Frist wants us to conveniently forget how he vilified filibusters. He wants us to forget how bad they were when nominees like Samuel Alito were put forward by the President. Now he wants to use the tactic to protect the President from war crime prosecution and allow the torture and inhumane treatment of our captives and our soldiers by our enemies.

Extreme is as extreme does.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Even You Can Tamper With a Diebold

News continues to break about how easy it is to tamper with Diebold voting machines. A writer at My Left Wing shows how common the keys are Diebold uses for its locks. These are readily available everywhere and you may already have one.

Yes, you could easily reprogram your local voting machines. Especially if you live in one Pennsylvania's counties which allow you to take the machines home with you the week before election day. Here's a simple how to:

Become your precinct Judge of Elections

Find a good local programmer who also happens to be a Democrat

Order one of these keys

Buy a smart card

Spend your time alone with the voting machines to guarantee a Democratic victory

See how simple this is? We'll finally get revenge on Bush and his stolen elections. He can't rightly complain can he? After all, turnabout is fair play.

Of course the alternative is to get rid of these awful machines and restore integrity to the voting process.

Regola Denies Involvement in Gun Death

State Senator Bob Regola issued a statement saying neither he nor his son was invovled in the shooting death of their neighbor's 14 year old son. Louis Farrell's body was found in woods having been shot with Regola's gun. A few excerpts from Regola:

"Neither my son, Bobby, nor I had any involvement in the tragic death of Lou Farrell,"

"It was not loaded and was not easily accessible, as I have young children at home. I, like many other Westmoreland Countians, keep a gun for safety reasons,"

Police have yet to conclude their investigation.

If he'd kept the gun under lock and key Lou Farrell might still be alive. Carelessness on the Senator's part did play a role in this unfortunate death. A gun supposedly kept for protection killed another human being. They have a tendency to do that.

Every three minutes a child in this country is killed with a gun. It's too bad we're more concerned with the rights of hunters than with the rights of our children.

UPDATE: Sen. Regola has admitted he knew the gun was missing and didn't notify authorities.
He says it was kept in a plastic box. Had it been locked in a gun cabinet Mr. Farrell might still be alive. If it had had a trigger lock installed he might still be alive. If it had smart technology only allowing its owner to fire it, he might still be alive.

Casey in Philadelphia

Dragonballyee has a lengthy, insightful article about Bob Casey's first public campaign event in Philadelphia. Yikes, it's mid-September and he's JUST NOW getting to Philadelphia? I thought taking 17 months to visit suburban Berks was bad. Much of what Albert observes jives with my critique: no stand on the war, very few questions, a sense of "why couldn't we do better than this guy?"

Also, PoliticsPA has caught some strategic photoshopping of a young Bob's unibrow.

The Pot Calling the Kettle Black

Condosleezza Rice on CBS television this morning:

Well, no, if talks between Solana and the Iranian representative Larijani can get us to a suspension, that would be terrific. But the international community also has a credibility issue. We've said as of August 31st suspend or we will pursue sanctions, and so we are talking with our partners about that course as well.

She was discussing the situation with Iran and accused the rest of the world of "credibility" issues. Wow. Where to begin... Maybe with our hypocrisy on the entire issue of nuclear weapons....

You see we allowed Pakistan to export their nuclear technology to Iran and other nations because we needed their help in Afghanistan. Even when A.Q. Khan was finally arrested all he got was a slap on the wrist. If we were really serious about Iran's program we'd have shut Khan and his cohorts down years ago. This is bull.

Then there's the issue of why, earlier this year, we gave India the green light to build as many nukes as they wish. I bet you missed that bit of news. Why is it alright for India but not Iran?

Then we get to my favorite part: Condi's credibility. Let's face it, she has none. You can't believe a word the woman says. Some of her famous (or infamous) quotes:

"I don't think anybody could have predicted that they would try to use an airplane as a missile, a hijacked airplane as a missile."

"It's not as if anybody believes that Saddam Hussein was without weapons of mass destruction."

"We don't want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud."

"Saddam Hussein -- no one has said that there is evidence that Saddam Hussein directed or controlled 9/11, but let's be very clear, he had ties to al-Qaeda, he had al-Qaeda operatives who had operated out of Baghdad."
Source: Meet the Press, NBC (9/28/2003).

But we know that there was training of al Qaeda in chemical and perhaps biological warfare. We know that the Zarqawi was network out of there, this poisons network that was trying to spread poisons throughout . . . . And there was an Ansar al-Islam, which appears also to try to be operating in Iraq. So yes, the al Qaeda link was there." Source: Fox News Sunday, Fox News (9/7/2003).

"Going into the war against Iraq, we had very strong intelligence. I've been in this business for 20 years. And some of the strongest intelligence cases that I've seen, key judments by our intelligence community that Saddam Hussein . . . had biological and chemical weapons . . . ."
Source: National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice Interview with ZDF German Television, ZDF German Television (7/31/2003).

"[H]e had . . . an active procurement network to procure items, many of which, by the way, were on the prohibited list of the nuclear suppliers group. There's a reason that they were on the prohibited list of the nuclear supplies group: Magnets, balancing machines, yes, aluminum tubes, about which the consensus view was that they were suitable for use in centrifuges to spin material for nuclear weapons."
Source: NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, PBS (7/30/2003).

"Now, I can tell you, if the CIA, the Director of Central Intelligence, had said, take this out of the speech, it would have been gone, without question. What we've said subsequently is, knowing what we now know, that some of the Niger documents were apparently forged, we wouldn't have put this in the President's speech - but that's knowing what we know now."
Source: Press Gaggle with Ari Fleischer and Dr. Condoleezza Rice En Route Entebbe, Uganda, White House (7/11/2003

"And there were other attempts to, to get yellow cake from Africa."
Source: This Week with George Stephanopolous, ABC (6/8/2003).

"At the time that the State of the Union address was prepared, there were also other sources that said that they were, the Iraqis were seeking yellow cake, uranium oxide from Africa."
Source: This Week with George Stephanopolous, ABC (6/8/2003).

"Already, we've discovered, uh, uh, trailers, uh, that look remarkably similar to what Colin Powell described in his February 5th speech, biological weapons production facilities."
Source: This Week with George Stephanopolous, ABC (6/8/2003).

"But let's remember what we've already found. Secretary Powell on February 5th talked about a mobile, biological weapons capability. That has now been found and this is a weapons laboratory trailers capable of making a lot of agent that -- dry agent, dry biological agent that can kill a lot of people. So we are finding these pieces that were described."
Source: Capital Report, CNBC (6/3/2003).

"We have found, in Iraq, biological weapons laboratories that look precisely like what Secretary Powell described in his February 5th report to the United Nations."
Source: Dr. Rice Previews the President's Trip to Europe and the Middle East, White House (5/28/2003).

"Now the al-Qaida is an organization that's quite disbursed and --and quite widespread in its effects, but it clearly has had links to the Iraqis, not to mention Iraqi links to all kinds of other terrorists. And what we do not want is the day when Saddam Hussein decides that he's had enough of dealing with sanctions, enough of dealing with, quote, unquote, "containment," enough of dealing with America, and it's time to end it on his terms, by transferring one of these weapons, just a little vial of something, to a terrorist for blackmail or for worse."
Source: Face the Nation, CBS (3/9/2003).

There is no question in my mind about the al Qaeda connection. It is a connection that has unfolded, that we're learning more about as we are able to take the testimony of detainees, people who were high up in the al Qaeda organization. And what emerges is a picture of a Saddam Hussein who became impressed with what al Qaeda did after it bombed our embassies in 1998 in Kenya and Tanzania, began to give them assistance in chemical and biological weapons, something that they were having trouble achieving on their own, that harbored a terrorist network under this man Zarqawi, despite the fact that Saddam Hussein was told that Zarqawi was there."
Source: Larry King Live, CNN (2/5/2003).

"We do know that there have been shipments going . . . into Iraq . . . of aluminum tubes that really are only suited to -- high-quality aluminum tools [sic] that are only really suited for nuclear weapons programs, centrifuge programs."
Source: Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, CNN (9/8/2002).

"We do know that he is actively pursuing a nuclear weapon."
Source: Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, CNN (9/8/2002).

"We know that he has the infrastructure, nuclear scientists to make a nuclear weapon."
Source: Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, CNN (9/8/2002).

"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).

You can see how she was rattling the war drums against Iraq with repeated statements about nuclear weapons. These were designed to invoke fear and panic in Americans if we didn't invade. Some of these were said within a year of 9/11; the context is critical.

Those trailers were for making hydrogen gas for aerial artillery balloons. The aluminum tubes were for conventional artillery shells. They knew all this and also that the uranium claims were forgeries and false also. They lied us into war. Knowingly.

And now Condi Rice has the gall to accuse the rest of the world with credibility issues? Please Condi, do everyone a favor and shut the hell up.

What? Me Worry?

Reporters and bloggers across Pennsylvania have been reporting on Rick Sanitorium's blow up last week-end at Brett Lieberman. He's a reporter for the Harrisburg Patriot news and covers national stories from Washington D.C. He's been reporting on the Senate race from early on and has the temerity to write that Casey won the debate on Meet the Press.

That didn't sit well with Tricky Ricky who acted like a none year old when he laid eyes on Lieberman at the Republican State Committee meeting.

You know, I've been known to write a few things, hmm, let's say, maybe critical, of our Senator. Only a few pieces, mind you (per day). Another blogger wondered if perhaps I should start getting worried in case I, perchance, might encounter Santorum. (Only possible, I believe, if I'm visiting my niece in Leesburg).

Why would people believe I've been critical of Rick Santorum? What could I, little old me, could possibly have done that he might get ticked at (I'd list the links but they're way, way, too many). After all, the logic goes, if he got this mad at Brett Lieberman for ONE article what's in store for me and the 2 Political Junkies? Maybe this explains his desire to allow torture?

I've only spent the past 21 months doing everything I can to make sure this wingnut doesn't get re-elected. From managing Chuck Pennacchio's campaign to blogging at Kos to flogging him here incessantly (there's just SOOO much material to work with about Rick), maybe I need to look into getting a bodyguard?

What? Me worry? About Tricky Ricky? Nah. Now, those goons who follow him around and rough up anyone who disapproves of their guy, them I worry about. I have a strategy to deal with them though. I'll just smile at those young men and announce (very loudly) how they didn't feel that way in my hotel room the previous night.... That should neutralize the bastards.

Lois Herr: Time to Face the Truth About Iraq


By Lois Herr

Democratic candidate for Congress in the Sixteenth District of Pennsylvania.

The War in Iraq has cost Pennsylvanians dearly in blood and money. At least 126 of our men and women in uniform have lost their lives so far, and unknown numbers have been wounded physically and damaged psychologically. The Department of Defense has been spending our tax dollars at the rate of $6.4 billion per month on Iraq operations at a time of record federal deficits. Yet the current representative, ultraconservative Joseph R. Pitts, continues to vocally support "staying the course" in Iraq; voting recently for a bill promoting "continued resolve" there.

I have a different view. I believe the time has come to face the truth about where we are. No partisan rhetoric, no rose-tinted glasses, and no spin.

As the nation now knows, this White House did not plan effectively for the post-invasion aftermath. In fact, President Bush and his advisers did very little war planning at all. Instead, they cherry-picked intelligence, undermined the work of U.N. weapons inspectors, misled the nation about Saddam's weapons of mass destruction, and stiff-armed our allies in a headlong rush to war. In doing so, they diverted the nation's resources from our true enemy al Qaeda, and created a breeding ground for terrorists where none existed before.

Today, our military is stretched to the breaking point, caught in a complicated conflict between insurgents, militias, and Iraqi security forces. And despite the best intentions and valiant work of our armed forces, our presence in Iraq is creating deep suspicion and resentment toward America. (Even General Brent Scowcroft, the national security advisor to President George H. W. Bush, has said that the Iraq war is "feeding" terrorism.) Most Iraqis want us to leave, and most Americans want to bring our soldiers home.

It is time to bring them home. We must change our policy and change our course. With a top-level commitment to bring our troops home, the logistics can be worked out very quickly by our quite capable military leaders, and experienced and respected diplomats can once again be charged with the rightful task of international negotiation. Withdrawing from Iraq involves the complicated task of bringing personnel home safely and recovering weapons and materials. It would be irresponsible and financially foolish for us to allow our weapons to fall into the wrong hands.

While America must remove its military presence from Iraq, we still have a responsibility to aid the Iraqi people not just for their own future but also to avoid destabilizing the entire region and threatening our own national security interests. We must work with the international community to assist Iraq's newly formed government in ensuring that all the major parties--Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds--feel well represented, to refocus on providing training and technical assistance to Iraq's newly-forming ministries, and to seek international aid for reconstruction efforts.

Making progress requires that our leaders put aside partisan attacks and face the facts. America has made great sacrifices in the past three years. Now to honor those sacrifices most fully, we must acknowledge that our men and women in uniform have done their job. It is time for them to come home and for a redirected policy to take effect for the future of our country and for the future of Iraq.

Blogger Problems/New Blog

Blogger will be down for maintenance again later today. The serious problems encountered Sunday have prompted me to move The Pennsylvania Progressive. The new host will be where I began working on the new site yesterday.

I apologize for any inconvenience the move will cause. Trying to use as unreliable a server as Blogger is extremely frustrating. You get what you pay for and Blogger is free. The new site will have additional features lacking here and we'll avoid the hassles and problems inherent at Blogger.

It will take some time to finish constructing the new blog so please bear with us in the interim. I'll let everyone know when we'll be moving.

The other downside to the move is that some articles I've been researching will go on hold until the work on the new site is finished. There are only so many hours in a day...

Bush Caught Lying About Torture

Read this article about a Canadian citizen American authorities simply took and sent to Syria for torture. This was based on nothing more than another agency's suspicions. This explains why we're so against the destruction of the rule of law and the shredding of the Bill of Rights. What's to keep the FBI or Secret Service (SS) from whisking you or your family members off the street and on to similar treatment?

The proposed new legislation would mean you'd never even know what happened to your son or daughter or spouse. No right to counsel and no due process. Tortured and then tried before a military tribunal without even knowing what evidence was used for your conviction.

If there's no standard of probable cause and no right to a fair trail that neighbor who doesn't like you could simply call the Fibbies and turn you in. Poof, you disappear. It all reminds me of Germany in the 1930's. I'm not worried about myself, heck I'm already on their lists. What if someone turns you in? Think about that before you fling this nation over the cliff.

The other thing this article does is substantiate that yes, we have engaged in torture. Alright we allowed the Syrians to do the actual deeds, but we were as complicit in the crime as they. An accessory to murder and torture is as guilty as the perpetrator. We sent these prisoners to Syria, Egypt, Uzbekistan and other pleasant locales expressly so they could be tortured. It was referred to as "extraordinary rendition" and was commonly known to be happening.

George Bush can stand up and lie all he wants that we didn't torture anyone but the victims are living proof. Well, some of them are. Some died.

It IS possible to protect this country without becoming terrorists ourselves.