Monday Mashup (7/13/09)

Just trying to take care of some stuff before I get out of here for a few days…

The Bucks County, PA Courier Times ran a letter yesterday from local Repug Party chairman Harry Fawkes criticizing Patrick Murphy over alleged improprieties with defense contractor Kuchera Systems and co-owner Bill Kuchera; the firm was barred from doing business with the Navy in May.

For the record, Courier Times reporter Gary Weckselblatt told us the following in this story…

Kuchera Defense Systems Inc., a family-run business from western Pennsylvania, supported Murphy with $9,200 in donations to his campaign.

On March 6, 2008, both men gave $2,300 each to Murphy. Lisa Kuchera and Lena C. Kuchera also gave Murphy $2,300 each on the same day, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a government watchdog group that tracks campaign donations.

Murphy did not respond to several requests for comment Friday.

Murphy, who received $28,750 from PMA’s lobbyists and their spouses, previously said he donated that money to charity after the revelations of an FBI probe.

He has obtained at least $5.6 million in congressionally directed funds known as “earmarks” for PMA clients, including one that partnered with Kuchera.

Someone please explain to me how Murphy has personally benefitted from this relationship (of course, I can expect evenhanded impartiality from Fawkes the same day Sarah Palin is elected president – maybe I’d better not joke too much about that, though, since stranger things have happened…and by the way, kudos to Patrick once more for taking the lead on trying to repeal DADT).

(Oh, and one more thing – it’s particularly hilarious for Fawkes to compare Murphy to former congressman Mikey Fitzpatrick, given that Patrick returned the $28K in PMA money, whereas Mikey…well, check this out.)

I also found this item from phillyburbs last Friday…

(Thumbs Up) To state Rep. Steve Santarsiero, D-Bucks, and three of his colleagues for a package of reform bills that would make state government more “open, honest, transparent and responsible with tax dollars.”

So says state Rep. Richard Mirabito, D-Lycoming, who introduced bills that would establish a searchable Web site to track state expenses over $1,000, and restrict the awarding of contracts that would yield a financial payoff for public officials or their families.

Santarsiero, a former Lower Makefield supervisor who represents the 31st Legislative District, introduced a bill jointly with State Rep. Paul Drucker, D-Chester/Montgomery, that would require lawmakers to contribute 1 percent of their salary toward the cost of taxpayer-funded health benefits.

“I think our colleagues understand that it’s only fair that we contribute toward health-care costs, particularly in these tough economic times,” Santarsiero said.

The Courier Times also notes that 1 percent is a pretty low number, which is true. However, cleaning out the Harrisburg patronage trough is something that, if it is to be accomplished at all, will have to be done in incremental steps like this one.

And in a wholly other vein, I came across this from conservative celebrity Ben Stein in the New York Times yesterday (his main talking point here is that President Obama is trying to accomplish too much on the economy, health care, energy, and the wars – as if Obama actually has a choice, I say to myself)…

I don’t believe we need to do something radical about energy, but even assuming that we do, why do it right now? Do we need to take one of the few sectors that is working like clockwork through the recession — oil refining — and wring its neck by making it pay for pollution “cap and trade” credits? Why attack a healthy industry when so many other sectors are ill? What is all of this anger at Big Oil, which has not done anything blameworthy, all about? Why endlessly beat up the companies that keep the country going?

Apologizing for energy interests in this country (ExxonMobil in particular, noted here, in which the former “Ferris Bueller” star claimed that the mega-energy giant “needs a hug”) is familiar territory for Stein; also noted in the prior post from March of last year are remarks from Robert A.G. Monks, the longtime shareholder activist who holds 100,000 XOM shares through a family trust, who said ExxonMobil is “unwilling to acknowledge that they live in a world where they are accountable.”

More to the point, though, Paul Krugman tells us the following from here today about the economic and climate crises; in the latter case, you can consider this as more or less in response to Stein’s claim that a policy of “cap and trade” credits would “wring the neck” of Big Oil…

At this point, the central forecast of leading climate models — not the worst-case scenario but the most likely outcome — is utter catastrophe, a rise in temperatures that will totally disrupt life as we know it, if we continue along our present path. How to head off that catastrophe should be the dominant policy issue of our time.

But it isn’t, because climate change is a creeping threat rather than an attention-grabbing crisis. The full dimensions of the catastrophe won’t be apparent for decades, perhaps generations. In fact, it will probably be many years before the upward trend in temperatures is so obvious to casual observers that it silences the skeptics. Unfortunately, if we wait to act until the climate crisis is that obvious, catastrophe will already have become inevitable.

This Wikipedia article on Stein tells us, among other things, that he basically “blew off” the warning signs concerning the economic calamity we current face when those signs appeared in 2007. Unlike our economy, though, there is no chance of a “do over” when Stein is proven wrong once more concerning the gradual melting of our planet.

(And with that, I now take my leave – I’ll plan to reappear once more in about a week.)

Update 7/17/09: And speaking of Stein, this positively screams for a blogger ethics panel (h/t Atrios).

Update 8/8/09: Awww, what a shame – not! (here).


One Response to Monday Mashup (7/13/09)

  1. […] also accused former PA-08 Congressman Patrick Murphy of “financial improprieties” here with defense contractor (and campaign donor) Kuchera Systems, all because Murphy accepted the […]

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