Archive for December, 2004

Early Gifts

December 21, 2004

Murphy is out. Public transit is in (for now). And we can all look forward to drinking liberally in the new year (cheers to Ol’ Froth).

Happy Holidays!

Adoption Fee

December 15, 2004

I don’t think there is anything wrong with Ms. Roznowski asking for a retroactive discount, but what kind of satisfaction do you get from sticking it to the Animal Rescue League? Is this as bad as it gets in Western Pennsylvania? Does anybody have a better problem to send to Mr. Welsh?

Fair and Balanced Biology

December 15, 2004

There is a legal challenge over in York County about teaching creationism in a public high school. The article doesn’t directly quote the language of the school board’s resolution, but it says “the Dover board voted 6-3 to require its science teachers to tell students that evolution is an incomplete scientific theory, and that intelligent design … is a viable alternative.”

So, this resolution requires two things: teaching creationism and undermine evolutionary theory. Why? The end of the article mentions that some clergy don’t regard evolution as incompatible with the story of Genesis and even includes brief theistic and deistic interpretations of Darwin’s work.

I’ve never understood why these efforts to politicize the teaching of biology feel that including the “God made everything out of clay” version alongside evolution isn’t sufficient — to them it is necessary to discredit evolution at the same time.

Intelligent design is an incomplete theory, too. Ask anybody who has ever had a hemorrhoid.

Phone Cards for Veterans

December 14, 2004

Over the weekend we collected $175 worth of phone cards for veterans. They are in the mail to Burlington right now, where the donations will be matched by DFA and then sent on to the VA hospitals. Thanks to everybody who helped.

Dean Deferred

December 12, 2004

In a poorly written (in form, not substance) editorial by a University of Minnesota student, I found this piece of wisdom:

There’s a reason the Bush campaign spent hundreds of millions of dollars casting John Kerry as a flip-flopper and comparatively little effort on establishing him as a “left-winger.” Character counts and dependability trumps all.

Americans wanted consistent and unwavering advocacy, whether from a religious conservative or a secular humanist. “Moral values” isn’t about gay-bashing and school prayer; it demands honorable, trustworthy leadership, and it was the perception of Kerry as a murky-headed, wishy-washy political opportunist that cost the Democrats the election.

You may dismiss it as a mere college kid’s opinion, but check out a Republican’s take on the idea:

“I actually think Howard Dean could be a very interesting choice for the Democratic Party – not from an ideological sense, but from a grass-roots sense and a message sense,” says Republican pollster Frank Luntz. Not only does the former Vermont governor understand how to organize, says Mr. Luntz, but even more important: “You know where Howard Dean stands. You may not agree with him, but it’s clear and it’s crisp, and it’s articulated effectively.”

“You know where he stands” — sound familiar? If you’re paranoid, you might think this is reverse psychology from Luntz. Since he is a pollster, I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt, because a pollster who doesn’t call it as he sees it doesn’t get very far.

Ask people why they are attracted to Bush, and they will tell you some baloney about knowing what he stands for. Bush is so forceful in his rhetoric that he sounds like he has convictions even when he is changing his mind. This isn’t about people wanting strong leadership because it is attractive for its own sake. If you soften a message because you fear alienating people, they can sense it is not quite real. They instinctually believe they are being deceived — and they are right.

If, on the other hand, you make your case in clear terms and argue for your side, people will take notice. They will respect that and listen and may even be convinced that, say, medical savings accounts are a stupid idea. Or civil marriage for homosexuals won’t end civilization. Or putting young women in jail isn’t the way to reduce abortions.

If you don’t think we need to worry about who is DNC chair, you need read no farther than the following paragraphs:

On the other hand, many Democrats believe that making Dean DNC chair would be a virtual gift to the Republican Party.

“Clearly we know how to get to 48 percent of the vote, or maybe even 49. But how do we get to 50 or 51 or 52?,” says one Democratic consultant. “And the question to ask is: Is there any reasonable expectation that Howard Dean can help us win in states where John Kerry lost?”

How does it make you feel that 52 percent is the largest number this guy can imagine?

Yes, anonymous Democratic consultant, there is a reasonable expectation. Howard Dean understands that the problem facing the Democratic Party is one of “image refinement” but of fielding candidates who aren’t afraid to be who they are and who will stand for Democratic ideals.

In all 50 states.

Governor Dean’s GWU Speech Transcript

December 8, 2004

Remarks made by Governor Howard Dean on the Future of the Democratic Party. Given at The George Washington University on December 8, 2004.

Thank you for that introduction. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Let me tell you what my plan for this Party is:

We’re going to win in Mississippi
…and Alabama
…and Idaho
…and South Carolina.

Four years ago, the President won 49 percent of the vote. The Republican Party treated it like it was a mandate, and we let them get away with it.

Fifty one percent is not a mandate either. And this time we’re not going to let them get away with it.

Our challenge today is not to re-hash what has happened, but to look forward, to make the Democratic Party a 50-state party again, and, most importantly, to win.

To win the White House and a majority in Congress, yes. But also to do the real work that will make these victories possible — to put Democratic ideas and Democratic candidates in every office — whether it be Secretary of State, supervisor of elections, county commissioner or school board member.

Here in Washington, it seems that after every losing election, there’s a consensus reached among decision-makers in the Democratic Party is that the way to win is to be more like Republicans.

I suppose you could call that philosophy: if you didn’t beat ’em, join them.

I’m not one for making predictions — but if we accept that philosophy this time around, another Democrat will be standing here in four years giving this same speech. we cannot win by being “Republican-lite.” We’ve tried it; it doesn’t work.

The question is not whether we move left or right. It’s not about our direction. What we need to start focusing on… is the destination.


Daily News Roundup

December 7, 2004

In yesterday’s meeting, the Allegheny County Council approved to put a referendum on the May 17th ballot that would reduce the number of row offices from 10-4. “I think this is a historic moment to reform and reorganize county government,” council President Rich Fitzgerald said after the meeting to the Post Gazette. Chief Executive Dan Onorato, who had hoped for “even deeper cuts”, has seven days to approve or veto the council’s decision.

Suburbs of Pittsburgh might be experiencing a new worker tax hike that was set out as part of the city bailout package passed last month by the PA state house. (more…)

National Weekend of Action

December 6, 2004

Support the troops in a way that a bumper sticker can only dream of! This weekend Democracy for Pittsburgh volunteers will be outside of local shops collecting long distance telephone cards to send to injured troops in VA hospitals.

Where? When? The latest status will be on the wiki:[National Weekend of Action] wiki page. Whether this phone card drive succeeds or not will depend on how many people turn out to help. If you would like to suggest a location or volunteer to help at an existing one, please leave a comment below or send an email to

Daily News Roundup: Pittsburgh Style

December 6, 2004

Tonight Allegheny County Council members will vote to put a referendum on the May 17th ballot that could reduce the number of row offices for the county. Jeffrey Cohan of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reveals that “Republicans have long been itching to reduce the number of row offices, since elected Democrats occupy all 10 of them”.

The Post Gazette reports that the debate continues with the $388 billion spending bill that keeps the federal government functional. The issue is an abortion provision “would trump any state or local laws that require medical facilities or insurers to perform, pay for or give referrals for abortions”. With only 1/4 of Pennsylvanian counties providing abortions and in Pittsburgh, only Magee Womens Hospital and “a handful of area clinics” continuing the procedure, it seems that Pittsburgh might be at risk with this provision.

Also, the state seeks a replacement for Jack Wagner’s senate seat. According to several democratic insiders, says the Post Gazette, “Wayne Fontana, who sits on Allegheny County Council, and John Weinstein, the county treasurer, both have expressed interest in the seat”. As of now David Jason is the only Republican interested in running. Jason is Scott Township commissioner.

The Tribune Review reports on Superintendent John Thompson’s fate. “Board member Mark Brentley Sr. walked out of a special closed-door meeting Sunday, saying he was incensed his colleagues singled him out by asking him to take an oath of confidentiality.” More news on this to come as the board decides whether or not Thompson’s contract will be extended through June 30th. “The board decided about two weeks ago not to renew Thompson’s five-year contract, which pays him $187,500 a year. He has clashed with the board over tax increases, school closings and his management style” reports Bill Zlatos.

After reviewing today’s news, what does it mean to you?

Welcome to Wiki

December 6, 2004

I’ve updated the website and unveiled a new thingamajig: wiki:[the Democracy for Pittsburgh Wiki|HomePage]. Those of you just getting used to the word “blog” probably don’t want to learn another strangely named website tool, but I think it will be worthwhile.

The name “wiki” comes from the Hawaiian word for “quick,” and it is basically a website that is very quick and easy to edit. Anybody who has an account on can contribute to the wiki. Rather than try to explain it, I invite you to wiki:[click around|HomePage] and see it for yourself.

The idea is that it will become a general resource for organizing research and information related to electing fiscally responsible, socially progressive candidates to all levels of office. There is already the start of some good information, like plans for the wiki:[National Weekend of Action] and lists of candidates for wiki:[Election 2005] and wiki:[Election 2006].

You are welcome to contribute. Simply create an account and then send an email to so a moderator can approve it.


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