The dog wags back!

A sometimes funny, somtimes angry, but mostly progressive, blog on the politics and issues of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and America.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The Cost of His Conservatism

The great thing about being a "conservative" like Rick Santorum is that you often don't have to bear the burden of the costs that your positions impose on the bulk of the citizens. For one thing, it is often extremely hard to calculate how those costs get distributed, let alone the diifficulty of assigning those costs to a particular policy. Putting such worries aside, we offer a simple correlation.

Rick Santorum's time in office has done nothing to benefit the state of Pennsylvania. According to a report from the Tax Foundation that tracks federal taxes paid and funding received, there has been no change in the
beneft ratio for Pennsylvania. As Santorum has risen in stature, one might expect a corresponding rise in the federal largesse for his home state, but Rick "Sorry I can't help with all the flooding damage" Santorum has not used his position to help his constituents. Since 2000, Pennsylvania has seen no change in our benefit to tax ratio (we received $1.08 in benefits for every dollar paid in taxes). We get no increase in benefit from Rick's rise through the GOP. We are barely on the positive side while Virginia receives a rather large benefit to tax ratio.

Why is this important - because people often argue that we have to keep senior legislators because they are better positioned to help. It may be that Rick really isn't positioned to help or that he won't - it doesnt really matter which.

How do you spell wedge?

We might want to start spelling it IMMIGRATION

Immigration reform still cause of rift among GOP
Copyright 2005 Houston Chronicle Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON - Senate Republicans outlined their top 10 legislative goals for
the new session Monday, but left out immigration reform, one of President
Bush's top priorities.

Check out the full story

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Just plain weird


I don't know what to make of except that the name must be intended as sarcasm.  These folks are so far from reality.  In this "article" they are justifying Rick's "prophecy" that legalizing gay marriage could lead to legalized polygamy.  For some reason they don't delve into the other part of Rick's prophecy - the infamous Man on Dog corollary.  The danger of polygamy - besides the usual destabilization of the INSTITUTION of MARRIAGE - that it would create a mess on everyone's taxes.  I find this an interesting argument for the conservative realists to take - after all if they get their way there will be no federal taxes.

Santorum's Prophecy
TheRealityCheck.Org - Shelton,CT,USA
Almost two years ago Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum was raked over the coals by the liberal media for his prediction that a decision by the Supreme Court ...

Contractor Cover-up?

Deaths of US Contractors Probed
Washington Post - Washington,DC,USA
... Rick Santorum (R-Pa.) and Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.) for help, and Santorum sent a letter to the Pentagon asking for the matters to be examined. ...
See all stories on this topic


Friday, January 21, 2005

Shades of Vince Foster

Dale Stoffel was a PA businessman until Dec. 8 when he was shot to death as he left the Taji military base north of Baghdad. The interesting connection is that Stoffel had recently alerted US officials of an alleged kickback scheme operated by the Iraqi Defense Ministry. Stoffel's firm, Wye Oak Technology, had a multi-million dollar contract to refurbish military equipment. Stoffel went public with his allegations in a December 3rd letter to our own Rick Santorum. A meeting with Santorum aides quickly followed the letter and then Stoffel was summoned to the Taji base to discuss his allegations. On his way out of the base, masked gunmen rammed his vehicle and executed him.

See the full story from the Financial Times on:

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Scary Photo

Did you notice the photo of W. taking the oath and who was standing behind him? Our very own, Senator "I can't do anything for you" Santorum.

His own, personal Jesus

Rick believes that not just faith, but the public practice of it, as opposed
to the private expression of faith, is not just our right but also our duty
as Americans. He views faith as an integral part of freedom and virtue.

On Jan. 11 at the St. Paul Seminary in Crafton, Rick flatly stated that
faith is not meant to be kept private, but rather it should influence public
policy.1 Of course, on the issue of the death penalty, Rick is out of line
with his faith � but he claimed to be reconsidering or at least softening,
his support for the death penalty.


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

1 Million Strong

This is your chance to stand up and tell President Bush that his narrow victory in 2004 gave him neither a mandate nor a blank check. Now is the time to send a clear signal to the Washington Republicans that Democrats will not falter or fall back -- we will stand up and fight for our values.
When President Bush tries to dismantle Social Security, the Democratic Party will be there to stop him. When he tries to make his disastrous tax cuts permanent, we'll be there to stop him. When he tries to stack the Supreme Court with right-wing judges who don't share our values, we'll be there to stop him. Renew your financial support for the Democratic Party and send George W. Bush a message: we will never stop fighting for what we believe in.

A throwback kind of guy

Dover lawyers look to Santorum
York Daily Record - York,PA,USA
... Rick Santorum, R-Pa., in their defense of the district's proposal to include the concept of intelligent design in high school biology classes. ...

Despite march of time, judge stays 'tough, brilliant, human'
The Express Times - Easton,PA,USA
... Rick Santorum. Clinton did not nominate him again. Santorum at the time said the Clinton White House had come to associate Freedberg with former US Rep. ...

Santorum takes on hot potato
Allentown Morning Call - Allentown,PA,USA
Social Security is no sacred cow to Rick Santorum.  Some people might believe that the government takes our taxes and should then provide benefits (like Social Security) back to the people - but not Rick.  He thinks that government should take people's money and give it to their rich Wall Street buddies who will finance their campaign for President.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Handmaid's Tale

The country is moving rightward, whether the people want it to or not. 146
million people did NOT vote for W (if you count those who voted against him
and those who didn't bother to vote). The greatest concern is the push
among those in power to move the country, not just to the right, but to do
it religiously. In FY-2004, the Bush-Cheney administration spent $154 million to fund abstinence programs nationwide and have requested $270 million for FY-05. In 2003, the administration awarded $1.7 billion to
various faith-based initiatives.

Rick Santorum is one of the leaders of the new crop of heirs to W's legacy,
such as it is. The danger of a Rick Santorum administration is that the
evangelism that W has sported when it suits him is, to pardon the phrase,
fundamental to who Rick is. The election of Rick Santorum will erode the
division between Church and State. He must be stopped in 2006 before he can run for President.

One of Rick Santorum's key supporters is James Dobson of Focus on the
Family. A Christian organization based in Colorado Springs that employs
1,200 people, each and every one screened for Christian beliefs. With an
annual budget of $146 million, it spends $250,000 on political action,
however that doesn't count educational and program spending on its
newsletters, radio shows and other organs for lobbying. Dobson of course
endorsed the candidacy of W because of the "attack" on the institution of
marriage. He maintains a direct line to Tim Goeglein, Bush's liaison to the
Christian right.

The agenda of a Santorum administration will further consolidate control of the family and control over basic rights, like privacy, in the hands of few radical religious fanatics. W just plays at this game to score points and turn out the vote, but when push comes to shove he doesn't want to enact the agenda because he likes red meat that gay marriage and other liberal social issues provides for his bully pulpit. Rick Santorum, on the other hand, is a true believer.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Santorum on Deficits

In keeping with our examination of Senator Santorum's record, lets look at how he has helped to increase the deficit. The good news is that this bill has not been passed yet, but it lets you know where Rick's head is.

Economic Growth and Government Efficiency Act of 1999 (S.410)
Submitted to the 106th CONGRESS, 1st Session

"To provide for offsetting tax cuts whenever there is an elimination of a discretionary spending program."

The bill was sponsored by Sen Brownback of Kansas and Rick was one of twelve cosponsors. The gist of the bill is that the government can never reduce its deficit. If any discretionary spending program is cut, then you have to cut taxes by a corresponding amount. It does not address whether spending rises in other discretionary areas - which makes this a one-way ticket to higher deficits. They try to avoid saying that it would increase the deficit by adding the following section:

Section 314 of the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 is amended by adding at the end the following:

`(f) PROGRAM ELIMINATION- Revenue decreases offset as provided in section 252(f)(3) of the Balanced Budget and Emergency Deficit Control Act of 1985 shall not be treated as increasing the deficit for purposes of this Act.'. (

So, you see, since they add a definitin that these cuts do not add to the deficit - they don't. Pretty slick trick, Rick. But in reality, it won't work that way. You can say the red ink is mauve, but the deficits will still be there and growing.

So what, you say, the federal government should be bankrupt so then it can't meddle in our lives. The problem with that thinking is that the large deficit scares away foreign investors, who right now are the ones financing our economy. Paul Krugman and other economists can provider better explanations of the impact of the federal deficit on the economy.

The biggest deficit that should concern us all is the one atop Santorum's shoulders.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

If the shoe fits - the GOP Flip-Flop

The poor sportsmanship of the GOP is show in the state of Washington. While they were quick to call for Al Gore and John Kerry to concede elections in which in which there was a dispute over the fairness and accuracy of the vote, they are fighting tooth and nail to overturn the narrow victory of Governor-elect Gregoire. The same folks who demonstrate a limited tolerance for recounts when their guy appears to win are now calling for a whole new election. Talk about sore losers, but anyone who expected them to show grace in defeat is naive at best.

These right-wing nuts are so extreme that they are threatening to revolt. '"You can give us a revote, or you're going to cause us to revolt," the Rev. Ken Hutcherson, pastor of Antioch Bible Church in Redmond, told the Republican crowd. '

Maybe it was a sign of liberal weakness that Gore and Kerry conceded, or maybe it was class and respect for a system, even when you don't agree with the results. The GOP, unfortunately, can't seem to muster the same kind of respect for even a state race. These guys hate to lose.

'The Legislature needs to ask, 'Do we rush through? Do we quickly certify and ratify this election? Or do we wait and act deliberatively and get to the bottom of these issues?' " Senate Minority Leader Bill Finkbeiner, a Republican from the Seattle suburb of Kirkland, said in floor debate. '

Of course, it was the GOP who argued that we needed to move forward to certify the election results, first in the dubious results from Florida in 2000 and then with the shenanigans in Ohio in 2004. In those cases, expediency in annointing their guy outweighed the sanctity of counting every vote. Interesting how they have flip-flopped now that the shoe is on the other foot. Send your favorite Republican a custom pair of shoes - "election flip-flops!"

All quotes from:

Bully Pulpit

Rick Santorum adds new meaning to the term bully pulpit. Perhaps a pulpit is where he really belongs.

Jasmine Gehris/Tribune-Review
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Pittsburgh,PA,USA
Rick Santorum views his job through the lens of his Roman Catholic faith and isn't afraid of the consequences, he told a largely Catholic audience Tuesday night ...

He has to have the faith thing, because he clearly lacks the "vision thing."

Santorum takes in the show
Lancaster Newspapers - Lancaster,PA,USA
... Rick Santorum said Monday he's optimistic about the future of agriculture in the state and young people entering farming as a career. ...

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Rick's Ignorance

Contraception protection
Oregon Daily Emerald, Jan. 10, 2005

Ailee Slater, Columnist

"A reproductive right"-- a cliche phrase that stands for one of two general ideals: for abortion or against? Beyond the inherent problems in asking ourselves to choose between black and white, U.S. citizens must now deal with a new gray area emerging into the sphere of political discussion. Pro-death or pro-misogyny won't come into play here; the issue is not abortion but birth control.

For those of us who believed that a fight about hormone pills and condoms was a fad of the '70s, like disco and sequins, I am sad to report that it seems to be making a dramatic comeback. Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum, the third-ranking Republican in our nation's senate, is pushing the envelope of privacy and basic rights in his opposition to contraception. Santorum is not just talking about abortion pills, he's talking about birth control pills. According to a recent Newsweek article, Santorum believes that each state should have the right to regulate contraception as it sees fit, meaning that Santorum would support, for instance, Oregon if it decided to ban the sale and use of any contraceptive. Coming from a high-ranking senator who has expressed wishes to run for president, this fact is certainly unsettling.

Also upsetting is the fact that Santorum has quietly, yet publicly, expressed his opposition most strongly to one form of pre-emptive birth control in particular: the pill. According to a quote from Santorum about his opposition to birth control pills in Prevention Magazine, he claims to be against insurers covering medication which "would lead to a fertilized egg not being implanted in the uterus ... I would not support drugs that would prevent a conceived embryo (from being) implanted."

Of course, the error in Santorum's thinking is amusing as well as disturbing. I shudder to think how many politicians are making medically unsound decisions concerning the bodies of women. Birth control pills are designed to deliver certain hormones into a woman's body in order to trick her system into thinking that it is already pregnant, therefore preventing the release of an egg. For Santorum to claim that birth control pills could possibly stop an already fertilized egg from becoming a fetus demonstrates a complete lack of knowledge about an issue for which, as a policy-maker, he should be intimately acquainted with.

Likewise, emergency contraception manipulates hormones in the same manner, simply at a larger level. If conception has occurred, the "morning-after pill" will have absolutely no effect on this fertilized egg. The opposition to emergency contraception as killing life, from both Santorum as well as an increasing number of conservatives, is scientifically unfounded. The Justice Department recently published new guidelines for treating rape victims, which include no reference to emergency contraception as a method of preventing pregnancy. Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union have already spoken out against this prominent omission; still, it is frightening to realize that it is the radicals rather than leaders of our country who are coming to the aid of women recovering from rape.

Of course, it is not just these methods of birth control coming under fire. Santorum has made no distinction between hormonal birth control and latex birth control and this fact, along with Bush's well-known support of abstinence-only education, points to a group of policy-makers amiable to the idea of condoms as a thing of the past. This particular group just happens to be in charge of The United States of America, meaning that without left-wingers asserting power, the legality of our little latex friends might be liable to go limp. And, at the point where condoms are being discussed, sexually transmitted diseases and AIDS in relation to policies of contraception present even more concerns within backwards ideas on birth control.

It is just one senator from Pennsylvania, and it is just one former governor from Texas. Just one partial-birth abortion policy, just one emergency-contraception regulation. It is just one Justice Department. It may seem impossible, improbable and everything in between that birth control, just birth control, could ever be illegal. Let us hope that those running our nation will remember that human rights and women's rights have taken us this far; now is not the time to turn back the clock.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Crash the web!

We can have fun with this website!

Sen. Santorum launches new online Web site
Shamokin News Item - Shamokin,PA,USA
WASHINGTON, DC -- US Sen. Rick Santorum, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, has launched a new Senate Web site for his constituents. ...

State seeks to revise 'cyberschool' law - Canada
-- State lawmakers want to revise Pennsylvania's "cyberschool" law following a dispute over taxpayer money spent on the children of US Senator Rick Santorum. ...

Unintelligent design
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review - Pittsburgh,PA,USA
Rick Santorum is at it again, attempting to align himself with the "Intelligent Design" (ID) political pressure groups, just as he did in 2001. ...

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Legislative Achievements

One of the problems that a Senator has in running for the Presidency is that they have a long and often problematic record of votes and legislation. Rick Santorum doesn't have to worry about that. Here is a sample of his legislative achievements.

1. S.CON.RES.12 : A concurrent resolution honoring the life and work of Mr. Fred McFeely Rogers.
Sponsor: Sen Santorum, Rick [PA] (introduced 2/27/2003) Cosponsors (1)
Latest Major Action: 3/5/2003 Senate floor actions. Status: Indefinitely postponed by Senate by Unanimous Consent.
Note: For further action, see S.Con.Res. 16.

2. S.CON.RES.16 : A concurrent resolution honoring the life and work of Mr. Fred McFeely Rogers.
Sponsor: Sen Santorum, Rick [PA] (introduced 3/5/2003) Cosponsors (None)
Latest Major Action: 3/6/2003 Held at the desk.

3. S.CON.RES.17 : A concurrent resolution establishing a special task force to recommend an appropriate recognition for the slave laborers who worked on the construction of the United States Capitol.
Sponsor: Sen Santorum, Rick [PA] (introduced 3/5/2003) Cosponsors (1)
Committees: Senate Rules and Administration
Latest Major Action: 3/5/2003 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on Rules and Administration.

4. S.CON.RES.19 : A concurrent resolution affirming the importance of a national day of prayer and fasting, and expressing the sense of Congress that March 17, 2003, should be designated as a national day of prayer and fasting.
Sponsor: Sen Santorum, Rick [PA] (introduced 3/12/2003) Cosponsors (1)
Committees: Senate Judiciary
Latest Major Action: 3/12/2003 Referred to Senate committee. Status: Referred to the Committee on the Judiciary.

5. S.RES.91 : A resolution affirming the importance of a national day of prayer and fasting, and expressing the sense of the Senate that March, 17, 2003, should be designated as a national day of prayer and fasting.
Sponsor: Sen Santorum, Rick [PA] (introduced 3/17/2003) Cosponsors (1)
Latest Major Action: 3/17/2003 Passed/agreed to in Senate. Status: Submitted in the Senate, considered, and agreed to without amendment and with a preamble by Unanimous Consent.

In addition to working on such issues of major importance - and I am not going into the library and post office dedications, Santorum is also found of stealth amendments like the following:

96. S.AMDT.2862 to S.1637 Purpose will be available when the amendment is proposed for consideration. See Congressional Record for text.
Sponsor: Sen Santorum, Rick [PA] (introduced 3/22/2004) Cosponsors (None)
Latest Major Action: 3/22/2004 Senate amendment submitted

97. S.AMDT.2863 to S.1637 Purpose will be available when the amendment is proposed for consideration. See Congressional Record for text.
Sponsor: Sen Santorum, Rick [PA] (introduced 3/22/2004) Cosponsors (None)
Latest Major Action: 3/22/2004 Senate amendment submitted

98. S.AMDT.2864 to S.1637 Purpose will be available when the amendment is proposed for consideration. See Congressional Record for text.
Sponsor: Sen Santorum, Rick [PA] (introduced 3/22/2004) Cosponsors (None)
Latest Major Action: 3/22/2004 Senate amendment submitted

99. S.AMDT.2889 to S.1637 Purpose will be available when the amendment is proposed for consideration. See Congressional Record for text.
Sponsor: Sen Santorum, Rick [PA] (introduced 3/22/2004) Cosponsors (2)
Latest Major Action: 3/22/2004 Senate amendment submitted

100. S.AMDT.2890 to S.1637 Purpose will be available when the amendment is proposed for consideration. See Congressional Record for text.
Sponsor: Sen Santorum, Rick [PA] (introduced 3/22/2004) Cosponsors (1)
Latest Major Action: 3/22/2004 Senate amendment submitted

Inspirational, isn't it?

Stopping the Bum's Rush

I don't normally like to reprint other's work, but nobody makes the case like Krugman.

Stopping the Bum's Rush


Published: January 4, 2005

The people who hustled America into a tax cut to eliminate an imaginary budget surplus and a war to eliminate imaginary weapons are now trying another bum's rush. If they succeed, we will do nothing about the real fiscal threat and will instead dismantle Social Security, a program that is in much better financial shape than the rest of the federal government.

In the next few weeks, I'll explain why privatization will fatally undermine Social Security, and suggest steps to strengthen the program. I'll also talk about the much more urgent fiscal problems the administration hopes you won't notice while it scares you about Social Security.

Today let's focus on one piece of those scare tactics: the claim that Social Security faces an imminent crisis.

That claim is simply false. Yet much of the press has reported the falsehood as a fact. For example, The Washington Post recently described 2018, when benefit payments are projected to exceed payroll tax revenues, as a "day of reckoning."

Here's the truth: by law, Social Security has a budget independent of the rest of the U.S. government. That budget is currently running a surplus, thanks to an increase in the payroll tax two decades ago. As a result, Social Security has a large and growing trust fund.

When benefit payments start to exceed payroll tax revenues, Social Security will be able to draw on that trust fund. And the trust fund will last for a long time: until 2042, says the Social Security Administration; until 2052, says the Congressional Budget Office; quite possibly forever, say many economists, who point out that these projections assume that the economy will grow much more slowly in the future than it has in the past.

So where's the imminent crisis? Privatizers say the trust fund doesn't count because it's invested in U.S. government bonds, which are "meaningless i.o.u.'s." Readers who want a long-form debunking of this sophistry can read my recent article in the online journal The Economists' Voice (

The short version is that the bonds in the Social Security trust fund are obligations of the federal government's general fund, the budget outside Social Security. They have the same status as U.S. bonds owned by Japanese pension funds and the government of China. The general fund is legally obliged to pay the interest and principal on those bonds, and Social Security is legally obliged to pay full benefits as long as there is money in the trust fund.

There are only two things that could endanger Social Security's ability to pay benefits before the trust fund runs out. One would be a fiscal crisis that led the U.S. to default on all its debts. The other would be legislation specifically repudiating the general fund's debts to retirees.

That is, we can't have a Social Security crisis without a general fiscal crisis - unless Congress declares that debts to foreign bondholders must be honored, but that promises to older Americans, who have spent most of their working lives paying extra payroll taxes to build up the trust fund, don't count.

Politically, that seems far-fetched. A general fiscal crisis, on the other hand, is a real possibility - but not because of Social Security. In fact, the Bush administration's scaremongering over Social Security is in large part an effort to distract the public from the real fiscal danger.

There are two serious threats to the federal government's solvency over the next couple of decades. One is the fact that the general fund has already plunged deeply into deficit, largely because of President Bush's unprecedented insistence on cutting taxes in the face of a war. The other is the rising cost of Medicare and Medicaid.

As a budget concern, Social Security isn't remotely in the same league. The long-term cost of the Bush tax cuts is five times the budget office's estimate of Social Security's deficit over the next 75 years. The botched prescription drug bill passed in 2003 does more, all by itself, to increase the long-run budget deficit than the projected rise in Social Security expenses.

That doesn't mean nothing should be done to improve Social Security's finances. But privatization is a fake solution to a fake crisis. In future articles on this subject I'll explain why, and also outline a real plan to strengthen Social Security.

Just say No in 2008!

Another example of his "moral" leadership. Rick better make sure he can take before he calls her out.

When there's disorder in the House
York Daily Record - York,PA,USA
... began after US Sen. Rick Santorum accused House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of "dissing his manhood.". The exchange sparked ...

I wonder if this counts as a legislative achievement? See other posts for information about his legislative achievements.
Pa. Seeks to Revise 'Cyberschool' Law
Kansas City Star (subscription) - Kansas City,MO,USA
... Rick Santorum. ... Amid criticism of the arrangement, Santorum agreed to withdraw his children from the cyberschool and resume homeschooling them. ...
See all stories on this topic

Santorum flap puts light on cyberschools
Pittsburgh Post Gazette - Pittsburgh,PA,USA
... Rick Santorum, R-Pa., to be educated via computer at their Virginia home has revealed a basic flaw in Pennsylvania's 2002 "cyberschool" law. ...
See all stories on this topic