Friday, September 30, 2005

Somebody wake up!

Come on Dems even if you still support this war, or even a staged pullout, there is no way you can support the way Bush and Rumsfeld are conducting this war. This is absolutely ridiculous, two and a half years into this fiasco and all we have to show is one Iraqi battalion (approx 1,000 troops)?

Today we hear.
The number of Iraqi battalions capable of combat without U.S. support has dropped to one, the top U.S. commander in Iraq told Congress yesterday, prompting Republicans to question whether American troops will be able to withdraw next year.

How many times were we lied to, and told there were hundreds of thousands of trained Iraqi troops?

Rummy on February 02, 2005
RUMSFELD: Well, I mean, obviously the people who are providing this information provide it every week. We put it on the Web site. It's available to any member of the House or Senate or the public. And the fact of the matter is that there are 130,200 who have been trained and equipped. No matter what he is. That's a fact.
Rice on January 30, 2005
"The coalition is there under a U.N. mandate to help the Iraqis because they're not quite capable yet of carrying out their own security functions," she said on CNN's "Late Edition." "But we are concentrating on training those forces."
She said about 120,000 Iraqi security personnel have been trained, including more than 50,000 police
Bush on April 13, 2005
FORT HOOD, Texas (Reuters) - President Bush said on Tuesday trained Iraqi security forces now outnumber U.S. troops in Iraq and are playing a greater role in fighting insurgents.

Lies, lies and damn lies.


Why did they disband the Iraqi army in the first place? Why didn't they listen to General Shinseki and use more troops? Why didn't they secure the ammo dumps? I could go on and on, but the biggest mystery is.....why aren't the Democrats constantly reminding the American public of the incompetence and hubris of this administration? Don't worry about doing it for politics, do it because it's the right thing to do, it may just save some lives. Remember principals?

And here's Negroponte speaking Rummyspeak.

"There's a desirability, a thirst really, to get as much fidelity about what is happening within the insurgency, and I think also a feeling that much more could still be done in terms of finding out now what the nature of that insurgency is."

Scary isn't it?

Hart protects DeLay but not Endangered Species

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If today's Republicans were in power 30 years ago, the bald eagle would probably be extinct today. Yesterday our Congresswomen once again sided with the radical right to continue the dismantling of environmental protections, protections that a majority of Americans support. If it's not broke, don't fix it.

From the Seattle Times:

The House yesterday approved a top-to-bottom overhaul of the landmark 1973 Endangered Species Act, perhaps the nation's most powerful environmental law.
By a vote of 229-193, lawmakers passed legislation that could greatly expand private-property rights under the environmental law that is credited with helping keep the bald eagle from extinction, but that has led to battles over species such as the spotted owl, the snail darter and the red-legged frog.

[SNIP]

Require Interior secretary to define what "best available science" is in regard to endangered-species protection. Currently, it is defined by scientific community. Repeal provision that protects endangered species from pesticides.

[SNIP]

Dicks added, "It's going to be a 2006 elections issue." Democrats in the state delegation supported the substitute amendment. Rep. Jim McDermott said the Endangered Species Act is now on the endangered-species list.

Reichert voted against the amendment and against the bill. "He heard a lot about this from his district," said his press secretary. "Even the amendment didn't have enough protection in it for him."

[SNIP]

Susan Holmes, senior legislative representative at Earthjustice, said the bill amounted to "the death warrant for treasured American wildlife."

"If the Senate fails to do the right thing and reject this bill, America stands to lose hundreds of species of rare plants and animals," she said.


They want the Interior Secretary to define what "best available science" is? What's the criteria for that? Whatever nutjob belief the secretary chooses? When are we going to bring some sanity back to our Government?

Just in case there was any doubt

We now know where Congresswoman Hart stands on DeLay's indictment.

From the Beaver County Times:

U.S. Rep. Tom DeLay's indictment on conspiracy charges in his home state of Texas should not be politicized in any way, U.S. Rep. Melissa Hart said Thursday.

"We should step aside and allow this process to go forward," said Hart, R-4, Bradford Woods.

Hart said that DeLay's case is now a matter before Texas courts and that "D.C. politicians" should stay out of it. DeLay and two political associates were indicted by a grand jury on Wednesday for allegedly circumventing fund-raising laws involving corporate donations in 2002.

[snip]

In their Thursday editions, the New York Times and Washington Post both ran articles detailing how DeLay's criminal case is just the latest setback for the GOP, which has been pummeled in recent weeks by President Bush's falling poll numbers, continuing bloodshed in Iraq, and near universal criticism of the Bush administration's response to Hurricane Katrina.

Also, Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., is being investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission for some stock deals involving a blind trust.

"This is just an issue of Tom DeLay," said Hart. "That having been said, it's not good that our majority leader has had to step aside."

Hart went on to describe her party's response to DeLay's indictment as an example of how focused it is on issues facing the country. She pointed out that U.S. Rep. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., was quickly picked to replace DeLay as majority leader and that other party leaders remain in place.


Here I thought she would announce that she'd be returning "Hot Tub Tommy's" PAC money, and she has the audacity to tell us that his indictment should not be politicized? What are you kidding me? This from a member of the party that still politicizes 9/11.

Then she says "it's not good that our majority leader has had to step aside", what?... she misses him already? Wow, just when you thought Republicans would be distancing themselves from all this corruption, Congresswoman Hart embraces it.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Who remembers this?

From CREW's website.
Washington, DC - According to Congressional Quarterly Today, Representative Melissa Hart (R-PA) is one of 30 members of the House of Representatives who purchased either an individual ticket or a table to the American Conservative Union dinner on Thursday to defend ethically-challenged Majority Leader Tom Delay.

Melissa Hart - Defender of DeLay.

This will make for some interesting research

.
Google Search .....melissa hart+tom delay

Results 1 - 10 of about 153,000

Christmas comes early

Image hosted by Photobucket.com

WASHINGTON Sep 28, 2005 — A Texas grand jury on Wednesday indicted Rep. Tom DeLay and two political associates on charges of conspiracy in a campaign finance scheme, forcing the House majority leader to temporarily relinquish his post. A defiant DeLay insisted he was innocent and called the prosecutor a "partisan fanatic."

"I have done nothing wrong. … I am innocent," DeLay told a Capitol Hill news conference during which he criticized the Texas prosecutor, Ronnie Earle, repeatedly. DeLay said the charges amounted to "one of the weakest and most baseless indictments in American history."

In Austin, Earle told reporters, "Our job is to prosecute abuses of power and to bring those abuses to the public." He has noted previously that he has prosecuted many Democrats in the past.


Here's a great website I saw at My DD that is tracking Repub corruption, Daily Delay.


In all our excitement let's not forget this little gem:

Rep. Melissa Hart(R) has taken $15,000 from Tom DeLay's Political Action Committee.

Today's email to my representative

Congresswoman Hart,

What is your response to FEMA's Michael Brown still being on the federal payroll, and lying under oath to Congress? Here's a clip of his testimony(courtesy of Think Progress).

"BUYER: So I’d like to know why did the president’s federal emergency assistance declaration of August 27th not include the parishes of Orleans, Jefferson and Plaquemines?

BROWN: …[I]f a governor does not request a particular county or a particular parish, that’s not included in the request.

BUYER: All right. Orleans Parish is New Orleans. I was listening to my colleague, Mr. Jefferson’s, questions about when they talked about, you know, they asked for this assistance for three days and then president responded the very next day, not the day that it was made — the request — but the governor of Louisiana actually excluded New Orleans from the president’s federal emergency assistance declaration?

BROWN: Again, Congressman, we looked at the request.The governors make the request by…

BUYER: Let me ask this. Since you went through the exercise in Pam, was that not shocking to you that the governor would excluded New Orleans from the declaration?

BROWN: Yes.

BUYER: When that request came in excluding these three parishes, did you question it?

BROWN: We questioned it. But I made the decision that we were going to go ahead and move assets in regardless because we have the ability to add those parishes"

Link- http://thinkprogress.org/2005/09/27/brown-false-smear/



Governor Blanco's response:

Press Release
Date: 9/27/2005


Contact:Denise Bottcher or Roderick Hawkins at 225-342-9037


Statement of Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco Regarding Congressional Testimony of former FEMA Director Mike Brown

September 27, 2005

"Mike Brown testified today, under oath, that I did not include Orleans, Jefferson and Plaquemines parishes in my original disaster declaration request sent to the President on August 28. In fact, that request did include 14 parishes in southeast Louisiana, including Orleans, Jefferson and Plaquemines.

“Mr. Brown further suggested that I did not order an evacuation of New Orleans until Sunday, Aug. 28. In fact, the evacuation was ordered on the morning of Saturday, August 27. Within 48 hours, 1.3 million citizens – representing more than 90 percent of the region -- were safely evacuated in the state’s extraordinarily effective evacuation plan that included early use of contraflow on the interstate system.

“Such falsehoods and misleading statements, made under oath before Congress, are shocking. It clearly demonstrates the appalling degree to which Mr. Brown is either out of touch with the truth or reality.

“Today’s hearing only supports the need for a thorough, non-partisan investigation of this event.”

Link-http://gov.louisiana.gov/Press_Release_detail.asp?id=1127

Congresswoman Hart please commit to and call on your colleagues to demand an independent investigation into the Federal Government's response to Katrina, and taking whatever necessary steps are required to charge Brown with perjury.

Thank You

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Questions for Congresswoman Hart (update)

I'm going to start a list of questions that I, and I'm sure others in PA04 would like to ask Congresswoman Hart. This list will be constantly updated as I peruse her voting backround, also feel free to add your own in the comments, and I will add them to the list.

1. Why did you vote "yea" for the "For the relief of the parents of Theresa Marie Schiavo" bill? The case had already been adjudicated. Did you put politics above a family's most private matters? In the future, will you continue to use your office to try to overrule state court decisions if it means political gain for the Republican Party?

update 9/27/02
2. Where do you stand on Social Security? Correct me if I'm wrong but it is not even mentioned on your website. Do you agree with your president when he says,"There is no "trust fund," just IOUs?
I've always believed that US Treasuries, are backed by the "full faith and credit" of the US Government, do you agree?

Monday, September 26, 2005

Listen up Dems

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a snippet from the post "Handbook for 2006 and 2008" from Wag the Blog (via First Draft):

Like it or not, the only way Democrats can win against the modern Republican Party is by defining them as a group that is [morally] defective and threatening. (When the Bad Guys do this, we can accurately describe it as "demonizing" your opponent.) Swing Voters will vote for the Democrat if they end up with an image of The Republican Politician that they find threatening. Unlike the Republicans, we Democrats do not need to fabricate any Republican character flaws out of thin air in order to "define" them effectively. We simply need to point out the truth. Our goal should be to define The Republican Politician as a shrewd, cunning, deceiving, manipulative, mean-spirited, Con-Artist who willfully and gleefully assassinates the character of any innocent victim who stands in his way. We need to describe them in this way with palpable emotion. In terms of basic, overall strategy, Democrats need to constantly remind themselves that it's not the economy, stupid! It's the IMAGE CAMPAIGN!

I stongly encourage each and every one of you to read this and pass it on to someone else. It is really vital to the nation to sink to their level. I know it sucks, but the moral high ground isn't helping


Read it all....and pass it on.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Where do the Dems stand on the Iraq War?

....hopefully with the public.

Anti-war forces rally in D.C.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Crowds opposed to the war in Iraq surged past the White House on Saturday, shouting "Peace now" in the largest anti-war protest in the nation's capital since the U.S. invasion.

The rally stretched through the day and into the night, a marathon of music, speechmaking and dissent on the National Mall. Police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, noting that organizers had hoped to draw 100,000 people, said, "I think they probably hit that."


There's that and then there's this.


Hundreds Rally in D.C. for U.S. Troops

About 400 people gathered near a stage on an eastern segment of the mall, a large patchwork American flag serving as a backdrop. Amid banners and signs proclaiming support for U.S. troops, several speakers hailed the effort to bring democracy to Iraq and Afghanistan and denounced those who protest it.


Need I post more about where the Dems need to be on this issue?

Unions supporting Republicans?

I don't understand how any unions can support Republicans, don't they realize the decline in Union membership started with Ronald Reagan? ....from Opensecrets.com:

Hart, Melissa (R-PA)
2005-2006 PAC Contributions: $223,622
Based on data released by the FEC on Monday, May 09, 2005.

[snip]

Building Trade Unions $5,500

Carpenters & Joiners Union
3/28/2005 $2,500

Laborers Union
5/5/2005 $2,000

Operating Engineers Union
5/18/2005 $1,000

Transportation Unions
6/8/2005 $2,500

Air Line Pilots Assn
6/8/2005 $2,500

The Unions still haven't recovered from the anti-Union Reagan presidency, why on earth would they ever contribute to a Republican?...I'd sure like to know.

From the Baltimore Sun:

An important turning point came in 1981, shortly after Reagan took office, when he fired about 12,000 federal air traffic controllers who went out on strike.

The controllers - represented by one of the few unions that supported Reagan in his bid for presidency, the Professional Air Traffic Controllers' Organization or PATCO - were fired for violating a law that forbids federal workers from striking.

By carrying out his threat to fire the controllers if they did not return to work Reagan not only set limits for public employee unions, but also signaled that it was OK for businesses to play hardball with private sector unions.

Group Lists 13 'Most Corrupt' in Congress

From CREW (Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington)

A watchdog group, naming what it calls "the 13 most corrupt members of Congress," is calling for ethics investigations of some of the most prominent leaders on Capitol Hill in a report to be released Monday.

Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington says in its report that the 13 members, among them Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-Tenn.) and House Majority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), might have violated a variety of congressional ethics rules.

The bipartisan list includes three Californians: Reps. Richard W. Pombo (R-Tracy), Maxine Waters (D-Los Angeles) and Randy "Duke" Cunningham (R-Rancho Santa Fe).

Cunningham is one of two House members whose residences have been searched as part of separate federal criminal investigations. The other, Rep. William J. Jefferson (D-La.), also is named on the watchdog group's list.

Three of those named on the list — Sen. Conrad Burns (R-Mont.) and Reps. Bob Ney (R-Ohio) and Tom Feeney (R-Fla.) — were cited for their dealings with onetime super-lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who is the subject of congressional and federal grand jury investigations. Abramoff was indicted last month on fraud charges relating to a Florida business deal. He has pleaded not guilty.

"They all violated ethics rules," Melanie Sloan, the watchdog group's executive director, said of the 13 members of Congress on its list. She criticized both political parties for what she said was a failure to police ethics.

Questions for Congresswoman Hart

I'm going to start a list of questions that I, and I'm sure others in PA04 would like to ask Congresswoman Hart. This list will be constantly updated as I peruse her voting backround, also feel free to add your own in the comments, and I will add them to the list.

1. Why did you vote "yea" for the "For the relief of the parents of Theresa Marie Schiavo" bill? The case had already been adjudicated. Did you put politics above a family's most private matters? In the future, will you continue to use your office to try to overrule state court decisions if it means political gain for the Republican Party?


Republican Corruption

It's so widespread, it's getting hard to keep track of.

WASHINGTON - Heading into a midterm election year, Republicans find themselves with not one, but two congressional leaders — Bill Frist in the Senate and Tom DeLay in the House — fending off questions of ethical improprieties.

The news that federal prosecutors and the Securities and Exchange Commission are looking into Frist‘s sale of stock in HCA Inc., the hospital operating company founded by his family, comes as a criminal investigation continues of Jack Abramoff, a high-powered Republican lobbyist, and his ties to DeLay of Texas.

For Republicans, the timing couldn‘t be worse.

[snip]

The midterm elections occur in just over 13 months and Republicans face the historic reality that the party controlling the White House typically loses seats in non-presidential years.

Shadowing the GOP outlook is President Bush ‘s diminishing approval ratings as the war in Iraq , rising oil prices and the need for billions in federal spending after devastating hurricanes threaten to overwhelm a second-term agenda.


Let's not forget that Melissa Hart is on the "Standards of Official Conduct Committee."

The Candidates

From what little I've seen so far, both Democratic candidates are impressive.

From Georgia Berner's website:

An innovative CEO of a prominent and growing manufacturing company in New Castle, PA, Georgia Berner credits her success to the simple skill of listening — listening to her customers and employees alike.

Our representatives in Washington should put the people back home ahead of their political self interests. I will always listen to the people and work hard to help our area and its unique needs."

Georgia Berner is committed to job creation in Pennsylvania's fourth congressional district, protecting Social Security and making health care more affordable.


At the bottom of her home page is "Creating Jobs and Balancing the Budget. Vote Berner in '06."
I'm looking forward to her "issues page."



Jason Altmire has an issues page up and I like what I see:


Health Care
Jason Altmire is a seasoned health care professional with a long history of public policy work related to health care. He is passionate about sensible health care reform and is a nationally recognized expert on health care policy. He has spoken about health care reform before audiences around the country. Jason Altmire has a master’s degree in health administration from George Washington University and has served on many professional boards and advisory committees related to hospitals and health care providers.

Health care reform will be a top priority for Jason Altmire in Congress. He will work to make health care more affordable and accessible for everyone and to guarantee that patients’ medical decisions remain in the hands of health care professionals, not insurance company bureaucrats.

Gun Control and the Second Amendment
Jason Altmire is a strong supporter of Second Amendment rights. In Congress, he will defend the rights of Pennsylvania’s sportsmen by opposing any new gun control laws. We must do a better job of enforcing existing gun laws before considering new restrictions or regulations.

Social Security
Jason Altmire will strongly oppose any plan to privatize Social Security, a program that has worked well for more than 70 years.

Prescription Drugs and the Medicare Rx Benefit
The Medicare prescription drug bill recently passed by Congress forces seniors to pay thousands of dollars more for prescription drugs and gives large insurance companies the power to overrule doctor's prescriptions. It also contains billions of dollars of profit padding payments for the pharmaceutical industry but does nothing to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. Jason Altmire will work to lower the cost of prescription drugs for Western Pennsylvania families and seniors.

Gas Prices and Energy Policy
Congress recently passed an energy bill that ignores American dependence on foreign oil and does nothing to reduce or even restrain gas prices. Most troubling, the bill contains billions of dollars of subsidies for big oil companies with little incentive to search for alternative energy resources. Skyrocketing gas prices are negatively impacting every American family, and Congress continues to ignore the problem. Jason Altmire believes American dependence on foreign oil is at the heart of the problem, which has evolved into a national crisis. In Congress, he will work tirelessly to promote sensible energy policy that encourages scientists to research and develop alternative energy resources. He will also support legislation to immediately lower gas prices and punish price gougers.

The War on Terrorism and Homeland Security
The continued threat posed to America by international terrorist organizations is the top foreign policy issue facing this country. Jason Altmire supports a strong national defense as a way to help keep our homeland safe and secure. He strongly supports the men and women bravely serving our country around the world.

Veterans
Jason Altmire believes it is unconscionable for bureaucrats in Washington to provide inadequate funding for our nation’s VA health centers. American veterans have earned the right to their health care. Congress has recently passed congressional budgets that have cut veterans health care, restricted access and imposed onerous user fees. In Congress, Jason Altmire will work to guarantee that every American veteran has access to the affordable, quality health care that they deserve.

Federal Budget Deficit
Jason Altmire strongly supports a balanced budget and will work in Congress to ensure that the federal government does not spend more than it takes in. Congress is running the country on a credit card, passing trillions of dollars of debt on to our children and grandchildren. Jason Altmire will support sensible budget policies that will help reduce the national debt. For example, he strongly supports reauthorization of the “pay-as-you-go” budget system, under which Congress must find budget offsets for new spending proposals or legislation that decreases federal revenues. The current lack of pay-as-you-go rules has led to the unprecedented federal deficit now facing our country.

Foreign Trade
Jason Altmire will oppose any trade policy that ships Western Pennsylvania jobs overseas. The North American Free Trade Agreement, passed in 1993, has cost Pennsylvania thousands of jobs. In 2005, Congress passed the Central American Free Trade Agreement, which extends the failed policies of NAFTA to other Latin American nations. Jason Altmire opposes CAFTA and will vote against any trade policy that contains inadequate protections for American workers and fails to address workers rights in all nations that are party to the agreement.

Education
Jason Altmire is a product of Western Pennsylvania’s public schools and a father of two young children. He strongly supports our public schools and will work to strengthen them. He knows the value and proven results of early childhood education and will work to ensure that every child has access to affordable pre-K schooling. He also has a long history of involvement with higher education in Western Pennsylvania, having served as an active board member of local colleges and universities. In Congress, he will work to make college and vocational schools more affordable for working families.

Tort Reform
Jason Altmire will strongly oppose any plan to place arbitrary financial caps on damages awarded in lawsuits where an avoidable error has occurred. Medical patients and consumers deserve the peace of mind of knowing that they will have access to legal recourse should they or someone they love fall victim to gross negligence.

I want to hear his position on women's privacy rights.

Where does Congresswoman Hart stand on the suspension of the Davis-Bacon Act?

Since I didn't get an answer to my email on the subject, here's the text of the letter I'm sending Congresswoman Hart today:

Congresswoman Hart,

As a constituent I would like to know the following, do you support the president’s suspending of the Davis-Bacon act for workers in the hurricane Katrina affected areas?

If your answer is yes would you please explain your justification(s) for placing such hardships on that local workforce. As I’m sure you are aware, the Davis-Bacon act’s purpose is to protect workers from being exploited, by mandating that workers on federally funded construction projects be paid the prevailing wage in the region. The prevailing wage in the Gulf region for reconstruction workers runs about $9 an hour.

If your answer is no, will you be signing on to H. R. 3763, (with 188 cosponsors), which reads:
To reinstate the application of the wage requirements of the Davis-Bacon Act to Federal contracts in areas affected by Hurricane Katrina.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SHORT TITLE.
This Act may be cited as the `Fair Wages for Hurricane Victims Act'.
SEC. 2. REINSTATEMENT OF DAVIS-BACON WAGE REQUIREMENTS.
Notwithstanding the proclamation by the President dated September 8, 2005, or any other provision of law, the provisions of subchapter IV of chapter 31 of title 40, United States Code (and the provisions of all other related Acts to the extent they depend upon a determination by the Secretary of Labor under section 3142 of such title, whether or not the President has the authority to suspend the operation of such provisions), shall apply to all contracts to which such provisions would otherwise apply that are entered into on or after the date of enactment of this Act, to be performed in the counties affected by Hurricane Katrina and described in such proclamation.

Thank You in advance for a prompt response.