Monday Mashup Part One (10/25/10)

  • 1) The Bucks County Courier Times basically copped out yesterday in the matter of an endorsement for the PA-08 congressional race, writing one column supporting Patrick Murphy and one column supporting Mike Fitzpatrick (here). And as you may have guessed, the “endorsement” of Fitzpatrick basically consisted of “he’s not Patrick Murphy.”

    If, God forbid, this district is ever represented in Congress by a Republican again, I will watch to see if an editorial endorsing both candidates is ever forthcoming (with the Dem endorsement basically being that he/she is not a Repug). And I’m sure I won’t see it.

    And get a load of this in the “pro-Mikey” screed…

    Rather than stand on his own record since January 2007, Murphy’s strategy has been to berate Fitzpatrick for his performance in Congress in 2005-06 and has even bashed him for his service as a county commissioner well over a decade ago.

    Memo to the Courier Times editorial board: is there some statute of limitations out there beyond which a candidate cannot be criticized? If so, I don’t know of it.

    And keeping up with that theme, we have this from Courier Times reporter Gary Weckselblatt, who, as far as I’m concerned, has been carrying water for Mikey throughout this campaign (noted in a particularly astute Letter to the Editor here).

    Today’s article tells us, in part, the following…

    AFSCME, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, has been the biggest outside spender in the 8th by purchasing $628,000 worth of radio ads.

    Their theme has been to hit Fitzpatrick for “giving himself a $20,000 raise” while he was a Bucks County commissioner. In actuality, the $20,000 came over a 10-year period as part of annual cost of living adjustments.

    Give me a break, people!

    How many of us have jobs in the public sector where we are awarded annual COLAs of $2 grand? And that doesn’t even take yearly raises into account!

    And get a load of this from the pro-Mikey editorial…

    More importantly, we’re not sold on the Democratic program for the nation. Give the Dems credit for averting an immediate economic disaster. But their game plan has come at an enormous financial cost that most people can’t begin to fathom. Unemployment remains high. And the centerpiece of the first half of Obama’s term in office, health care reform, was so badly botched that many Democrats who supported it, Murphy included, have shied away from it as they seek re-election.

    Oh yes, click here to find out how much Murphy has “shied away” from health care reform (and if you support him, click here to help elect our congressman for another term).

  • 2) Staying with the Courier Times, Rob Ciervo, running against Steve Santarsiero for the latter’s PA-31 House seat, laid it on thick as follows today (from here)…

    This year (Steve) joined with the Democrat majority to borrow $600 million to fund pork barrel projects like $10 million for an Arlen Specter library and $20 million for a luxury spa and golf resort in Chester County.

    This is a typical trick from “Republic” Party candidate “Self” Ciervo, blaming Steve for appropriations to other districts in this state (the last time Ciervo wrote something for the Courier Times, he blamed Steve because the Philadelphia school district received a bigger appropriation than the Pennsbury or Council Rock school districts in Bucks – sorry I cannot locate the link).

    I’m sure that, given the chance, Ciervo would hold his breath and turn blue if an appropriations bill for Bucks County wasn’t passed aside from one for the rest of the state, thus creating more gridlock for him to complain about.

    Also (from Ciervo’s column today)…

    Contrary to what you might have read elsewhere, I voted against building two new township buildings in Newtown Township and voted against taking on any debt to do so.

    Really? Not according to this letter.

    Update 10/27/10: In response to Mr. Booth, I think this criticism is bogus, but I’ll allow it anyway.

    And as noted here, Ciervo sought a tax increase for the preservation of open space in Newtown before he bothered to complete a report on the subject (Steve has favored municipal cooperation within Bucks which, while cheaper, also makes a lot more sense).

    Also (returning to Ciervo’s column again)…

    If (Steve) had done what he actually promised, such as eliminate wasteful spending and make our state competitive for job creation, I might not be running for state representative at all.

    From Steve’s web site (here)…

    Since taking office in January 2009, I have been working to bring jobs into the Yardley-Newtown area while fighting to protect the jobs that we already have.

    Earlier this year I succeeded in getting a major international marketing firm to relocate to Lower Makefield, bringing with it over 200 jobs to our community. At the same time, I fought the New Jersey Legislature over its proposal to require that all New Jersey public employees live in the Garden State. As a result of my efforts, New Jersey lawmakers finally agreed to exempt current employees from the new rule, saving over 3,000 families in the Yardley-Newtown area from having to choose between their jobs and their homes.

    But we need to do more.

    That’s why in a second term I will work to create a system of tax credits to small businesses to help them expand and create more jobs. Those credits will compliment the bill that I proposed this year – and which was passed and signed into law in July – that will make more credit available to small businesses as they grow.

    I also will work on a series of targeted tax incentives to attract biotech and alternative energy companies to Pennsylvania. These incentives will include the creation of “Green Enterprise Zones” designed to offer tax abatements to companies in the alternative energy and green technology sectors who pledge to stay in Pennsylvania for the long haul and create jobs for Pennsylvanians.

    Finally, when the economy begins to improve and revenues to the state pick up, we need to continue previous efforts to lower the corporate net income tax rate to help make Pennsylvania more competitive with other states. At the same time, we should phase out the corporate stock and franchise tax for the same reason.

    Ciervo also criticizes Steve for not “stand(ing) up to the special interest groups like the teachers union,” though, as the Courier Times noted in it’s editorial endorsing Steve today…

    We disagree with the Democrat on teachers’ right to strike, which he supports, although Santarsiero makes a strong case for a negotiation process that would start earlier and end with arbitration, with teachers barred from striking if they do not accept an arbitrator’s decision, and a district’s state money held in escrow if the school board does not accept the arbitrator’s decision.

    Another thing…let’s not forget that Ciervo is another “teabagger” in these parts (here), and also, let’s not forget the following (here)…

    Mike Gallagher, a Newtown Township Supervisor, was recently arrested and charged with a DUI. Not only is Gallagher still a Newtown Township Supervisor, he is being supported by follow Republican Supervisor Rob Ciervo in his decision to remain on the [board], which oversees the Newtown Township police force.

    Also, as noted in the comments, Gallagher tried to threaten the arresting officer, though Ciervo continues to support Gallagher (just another case of Repug “do as I say, not as I do” self-entitlement run amok).

    Please click here to support Steve and keep Ciervo in Newtown for as long as the township wishes to tolerate his presence.

  • 3) Finally, this story tells us the following…

    ORLANDO, Florida (Reuters) – Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin rallied Republican candidates in Florida on Saturday by pillorying President Barack Obama’s healthcare reforms and economic policies — and she also used her speech to plug her new TV reality show “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.”

    I don’t have much to say about this, except the following:

    I double-dog-dare Palin to come up here and make an appearance for Pat Toomey!

    Particularly since, as noted here, “No-Corporate-Tax Pat” is backing away from Palin’s protégé “Yes Wiccan!” O’Donnell here, saying in part the following…

    Speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” Toomey said he does not agree with O’Donnell’s idea that states should not be bound by the First Amendment’s prohibition on establishing a religion.

    “This is nothing that I’ve ever spoken about or agreed with,” Toomey said.

    However, as noted here…

    In a question on the separation of church and state, Toomey tried to clearly demonstrate that he understands the First Amendment separation of church and state _ an issue in O’Donnell’s race _ but went on to suggest that it shouldn’t be used to ban all involvement between religion and government.

    As an example, he said parents of children in poorly performing public schools should be able to send their children on the public dime to private schools whether or not they have a religious affiliation.

    It really isn’t a good idea for Toomey to talk about school issues anyway, seeing as how, as noted here…

    Toomey pioneered dangerous interest rate swaps “In the years that Toomey ran sales and trading at Morgan Grenfell, the company brokered a number of interest rate swap deals with municipal governments (called “local councils”) in the United Kingdom. (Although Toomey was based in New York, he also managed the firm’s derivatives business [11] in Tokyo and London.) In the UK, municipalities are generally funded by the central government. But under Margaret Thatcher, their funding had become sharply limited, and many were searching for alternative, off-the-books methods of funding their operations. Morgan Grenfell and other derivatives dealers stepped into the breach, brokering deals with and between various municipalities. Interest rate swaps-where the two parties in effect bet on whether interest rates are going to go up or down-were especially popular. Many of these deals were in effect loans-the councils would receive large sums up front and pay them back over time based on interest rate differences. Of course, if the interest rates went the wrong way, you could end up owing far more than you initially anticipated.”

    Toomey’s interest rate swaps were dangerous and risky. “During the campaign, Toomey has referred to the products he worked with [12] as “non-risky” “common derivatives,” different from the “toxic” mortgage-backed derivatives that some believe caused the financial crisis. “That’s not true,” says Michael Greenberger, a professor at the University of Maryland and former CFTC official. “It just so happens that the 2008 meltdown involved credit default swaps, but interest rate swaps and currency swaps can be as risky as anything else. These swaps are very, very risky.”

    Toomey’s interest rate swaps cost Pennsylvania (schools and local) communities millions. “Toomey’s defense ignores the recent history of interest rate swaps, which led to fiscal problems for many American towns, cities, and states across the country in recent years. The US never had a House-of-Lords-type decision forbidding municipalities from making these sorts of deals. So just as Morgan Grenfell had in the ’80s, US banks pressed local governments to agree to swap deals to bring in extra revenue. And this time, many of the banks allegedly paid kickbacks [13] on the deals. (The kickbacks are the subject of an ongoing federal investigation.) In Pennsylvania alone, 107 school districts reportedly [14] entered into swap deals-”gambling with the public’s money,” according to the state’s auditor general. Some have since paid millions of dollars to Wall Street banks to get out from under the deals. Chicago, Denver, Kansas City, Missouri, Philadelphia, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Oregon all recently lost money on similar swap deals, according to the [14]Wall Street Journal [14].”

    Click here to help elect Admiral Joe Sestak to the Senate next week, and thus send Toomey back to Wall Street, who I’m sure will greet him with open arms, and probably a blank check as well.

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