Notes From The Day After (Updates)

November 7, 2018

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To begin, I think we should congratulate Danielle Friel Otten, a Chester County, PA Democrat who won a seat in the PA state house for the 155th district, as noted here. She campaigned on the utterly ruinous effects of the so-called Mariner East pipeline where she lives. The fact that she was a Democrat who actually won in Chester County is a testament to the perseverance she showed, along with her campaign manager Virginia Kerslake, by knocking on the doors of over 31,000 voters. I wish her the very best in trying to stem the ruinous tide of natural gas exploration not just in her district, but everywhere in this country (hopefully blocking the rabidly anti-environmental actions of Repug State House Speaker Mike Turzai).

Also, closer to these parts, Tina Davis won another term in the PA state house, as did our local rep Perry Warren. In addition, Susan Wild won a U.S. House seat for PA-07, as did Air Force vet Chrissy Houlahan for PA-06.

Here’s another triumph…Steve Santarsiero was victorious in his PA Senate District 10 contest over Marguerite Quinn. Do you want to know what the main issue was that he ran on? Common-sense gun laws to keep our kids safe in school. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Quinn had an A+ rating from the NRA, but all the same…watch and learn, Democrats. This is a winnable issue!

And as we know by now, Bob Casey won another term in the U.S. Senate from PA, and Tom Wolf was re-elected to another term as governor (as a consolation prize, I think we should send Scott Wagner a set of shoes with golf spikes). Also, Bob Menendez won in New Jersey, which really had me concerned for awhile. I sincerely hope he doesn’t try to run for another term, because this was way closer than it should have been (it helped that Bob Hugin was an absolutely awful candidate – we can’t count on the Repugs to make that mistake again, though).

In addition, Jacky Rosen unseated Dean Heller in Nevada (I also think she should send a thank-you card to Rick Perry over his remarks about Yucca Mountain). And how cool is it that the the thoroughly wretched Kris Kobach lost in Kansas to a Dem woman? Laura Kelly will be the next governor of that state! And Hosni Mobarak Walker of WI and Rick Snyder of MI are BOTH GONE with Dems now in charge – as someone noted, the three states that decided it for Trump all now have Dem governors!

Update 11/8/18: I forgot that the equally awful Repug Gov. Bruce Rauner of Illinois is done also.

And the best news of all? The U.S. House is ours (including the power to subpoena a certain Delusional, Tiny-Handed Orange Dictator Wannabe and his henchmen – hench-people?).

Now for the bad news…

I thought Scott Wallace ended up doing not too bad of a job rebutting Bri-Fi’s garbage (and boy, was there a slew of it from this supposedly upstanding, Bucks County mama’s boy who acted like he was above the political fray!), but I’m tired of Dems running candidates in congressional elections who seem to beat on a couple of issues (“my opponent isn’t doing this or that!”) without presenting viable policy alternatives. Yes, he went after Bri-Fi over voting for those terrible tax cuts, but he also could have done that on gun reciprocity, gutting consumer financial protections, not doing much of anything while our infrastructure crumbles, internet privacy, renewable energy, etc. (one of these days, a Dem will run against a Repug in this district and actually tailor a campaign to the issues that matter AND MAKE THE CASE THAT THEY WOULD DO A SUBSTANTIALLY BETTER JOB!!! I thought Kevin Strouse might do that a few years ago, but he fell short at the end).

Well, I’m sure all of those McMansion owners in Middletown, Wrightstown, Lahaska, Buckingham and elsewhere in PA-01 are happy that Bri-Fi won again. Maybe one of these days, we’ll have congressional representation from someone who apparently doesn’t believe he or she merits the position as a family inheritance. Also, I don’t think anybody except the most rabid Bri-Fi partisans gave a damn about all the “Silver Spoon Scott Wallace” and “Crazy Billionaire” BS, along with Bri-Fi throwing all kinds of unsubstantiated garbage at Wallace over and over again as alluded to previously, even when it was disproven, including the Mumia Abu-Jamal stuff.

Also, when he started his campaign, Wallace had that supposedly cutesy ad with Diane Marseglia about being recruited to oppose Bri-Fi (“You should run!” “No, YOU should run!”). What the hell was that all about? Was that supposed to motivate the base? Also, Philadelphia’s conservative newspaper of record was apparently able to extract a quote from Wallace last week along the lines of “Well, if we lose, it will be my fault.” Wow, THAT sure was a further impetus to knock on doors and try to persuade people (which I did along with many other happy souls last weekend)! Also, on Wallace’s web site, he had that picture of him standing on the porch talking to Marseglia forever with his back to the camera – um, you have to find a way to grab voters with short attention spans, primarily independents…who gave you the bright idea to feature THAT??!!

Wallace stuck me as a decent man, but overall, a low-energy guy who acted like he was late to the party. Even so, I’m not sure if would have mattered, though the demographics are moving in the right direction for us. Also, as Kyle Bagenstose of the Courier Times pointed out, the new PA-01 district was redrawn to include Montco, which definitely helped the Dems and will continue to do so.

On the national stage, yeah, it sucks that Beto lost in Texas (I don’t want to imagine how messed up of a life form you have to be to support somebody like Ted Cruz instead), but again, the margin of victory in this one was a lot closer than anyone expected. Personally, I’d like to see Beto run for something like Mayor of Austin or San Antonio or someplace where he could get more real-world experience in governance and bring that to the table when he runs again (which he should). I always though Patrick Murphy should have done something like that after he lost as U.S. House Rep in 2010 (running Bristol Borough or something) so he could add more diverse experience in governance. At the time, the Courier Times (I’m pretty sure) said he should run for Bucks County Commissioner, which to me is a sucker bet since I can’t remember a time when the Repugs have NOT been in charge. I thought there was a bit of a good idea there, however.

Also, it should be noted that Amy McGrath in KY and Richard Ojeda in WV both lost their U.S. congressional elections (remember that the next time you hear Repugs crowing about how they supposedly “support the troops”). And the last I checked, Kyrsten Sinema might lose by a tiny margin to the utterly wretched Martha McSally in AZ mainly because of a third-party candidate (NEVER support them, people!). I also wasn’t watching Missouri closely enough to find out how Claire McCaskill could actually lose to a particularly scummy liar like Josh Hawley (I guess the fact that he looked good enough on TV was all it took for the “children of the corn”…and speaking of that, Steven Arnold King won in Iowa again for the U.S. House, but once again, the margin of victory was smaller than last time), and I heard that Joe Donnelly ran as a Republican-lite in Indiana and got trounced (David Sirota said that Donnelly should have run like Sherrod Brown – to the extent that Donnelly could have been more populist, I could see that, but as great as Brown is, he actually has been helped by Trump’s steel tariffs, believe it or not, so that definitely isn’t an “apples to apples” comparison).

And oh yeah, we’d been getting warned from Heidi Heitkamp for days about what would happen with her, so even though it’s upsetting, it wasn’t surprising. The Repugs targeted her in particular I think because Trump apparently offered her a job to give up her seat and she refused, to her credit (just like she opposed “Schlitz” Kavanaugh), so of course she had to be destroyed electorally. And that garbage with the Native Americans and the PO boxes (as noted here, sanctioned by a judge nominated by Dubya) apparently put re-election out of reach (again, though, how much of a mental defective do you have to be to actually support someone like Kevin Cramer?).

This to me is cold comfort, but comfort all the same: eleven million more people voted for Senate Democrats than Republicans (here, and I believe I read somewhere that 3 million more voted for Dems in the House). This election, though, Democrats were hobbled by having to play defense in so many states (that’s why, though I was hoping and praying for the House, I never really considered seriously that they’d win the Senate – sorry). However, if we have the same level of participation (or better) in 2020 with Repugs having to defend their Senate seats more than Dems (including Sen. Mr. Elaine Chao), I honestly believe that it will be an altogether different result (and if there was any Russian hacking going on, it certainly didn’t play a role in the U.S. House races).

And another thought – I’ve often wondered why we don’t have something along the lines of an ALEC for our side. I’m basically talking about a progressive/liberal group formulating policy for all 50 states and territories based on data from polling likely voters, so our candidates KNOW what issues they have to hit on before they utter their first words. I always though the Obama campaign, for example, did a good job with that, and I don’t know why we can never seem to leverage that nationwide.

I also wonder if it wouldn’t be a bad idea to start a drive to boycott states where people vote for Republicans, particularly Florida. I’m sorry, but I have to say it – the win (Update 1 11/9/18: So far, though a recount is in progress…) for Ron (“Birth of a Nation”) DeSantis over Andrew Gillum can be straight-up attributed to racism. DeSantis might as well wear a white hood and robe the day he’s sworn in.

Update 2 11/9/18: Also, “Iron ‘Stache” Randy Bryce lost his valiant fight for Paul Ryan’s old district (WI-1), and Ammar Campa-Najjar is currently contesting what is (so far, again) his loss to the execrable Duncan Hunter in CA-50.

I’ll leave you with this, which I’ve mentioned before – in 1964, the Republican Party and movement conservatism was flat on its metaphorical back, having been clobbered by Lyndon Johnson and the Dems vs. Barry Goldwater. And it took them 16 years to ascend to power, but they formulated a strategy, kept at it, and pulled it off (to our great ruin as far as I’m concerned). To me, there’s no reason why we can’t replicate that.

We have the numbers on our side. And the issues. And (I believe) the people to make it happen.

Let’s take some time to decompress, but then when the time comes, let’s get back it again.

We’re going to turn this around. And when we do, it will be for good.

Update 11/10/18: First the bad news – apparently, I congratulated Tina Davis a little too early, since ballots are still being counted and, as of now, Repug Tommy Tomlinson is leading. Now the good news – from what I read, Dem Kyrsten Sinema is leading in Arizona!

Update 11/11/18: And I thought this was a great story too – the lesson is to compete everywhere!

Update 11/14/18: Sinema eventually won, with Martha McSally offering gracious words of encouragement in her concession, and Davis lost to Tommy Tomlinson by 100 votes, but she’ll keep her position in the state legislature. Under PA law, she was also able to run for her house seat at the same time as the senate seat, and she won her house seat handily.

Update 11/17/18: I was wrong about Davis/Tomlinson – Davis has gone to court to get what apparently are about 200 absentee ballots counted, so this isn’t over yet.

Update 12/12/18: A judge ruled against Davis in her petition related to the absentee ballots, so Tomlinson keeps his job in the PA Senate and Davis keeps hers in the PA state house.

Update 12/27/18: Gee, no wonder McSally was so happy when she lost – maybe it’s because she knew she would eventually end up in the Senate anyway? (here).


Candidates of the Trump/Kavanaugh Party, 2018 (Updates)

October 7, 2018

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For Bucks County, PA local folk (and statewide also)…

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This is Ryan Gallagher, running for state representative for PA-31. He is the candidate of the Trump/Kavanaugh Party.

To support Democrat Perry Warren, Gallagher’s incumbent opponent, click here.

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This is Marguerite Quinn. She is a member of the Trump/Kavanaugh Party running for PA State Senator in District 10.

To support Steve Santarsiero, Quinn’s opponent, click here.

Update 10/26/18: More from Steve appears below..

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This is Brian Fitzpatrick, the U.S. House Representative for PA-01. He is a member of the Trump/Kavanaugh Party running as the incumbent in the PA-01 U.S. House contest.

To support Democrat Scott Wallace, Fitzpatrick’s opponent, click here.

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This is Lou Barletta (on the right of course). He most definitely is a member of the Trump/Kavanaugh Party running for U.S. Senate from PA.

To support our Dem incumbent Senator Bob Casey, Barletta’s opponent, click here.

And finally…

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This is Scott Wagner (again on the right of course). Maybe more than anyone else on this list, he is a member of the Trump/Kavanaugh Party running for PA Governor.

To support our Dem incumbent governor Tom Wolf, Wagner’s opponent, click here.

Update 10/12/18: While our Republican lunatic in PA said this, Governor Wolf did something constructive and commendable (here).

Update 10/15/18: To paraphrase that great quote from Groucho Marx, I’d call Wagner a baboon, but that’s insulting to the other baboons (here).


The Candidates of the Trump Party

October 10, 2016

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For Bucks County, PA local folk…

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This is Ryan Gallagher, running for state representative for PA-31. He is the candidate of the Donald J. Trump Party.

To support Democrat Perry Warren, Gallagher’s opponent, click here.

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This is Brian Fitzpatrick, running for the U.S. House of Representatives for PA-08 (more here). He’s the brother of Mike Fitzpatrick, current U.S. House rep who will not run for another term. It should be noted that Brian Fitzpatrick has said that he won’t vote for Trump (here), though he remains the nominee of the Trump Party.

To support Democrat Steve Santarsiero, Brian Fitzpatrick’s opponent, click here.

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And finally, this is Pat Toomey, running for another term in the U.S. Senate. Toomey is a member of the Trump Party, and while he has said that the Republican presidential nominee’s most recent words were “outrageous and unacceptable” (which should be obvious to any life form), Toomey as far as I know is still supporting Trump (as noted here).

To support Democrat Katie McGinty, Toomey’s opponent, click here.

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Update: HAHAHAHAHA!!!! – typical for Toomey (R-Elevator)

Update 10/13/16: Couldn’t happen to a more deserving Repug this side of Ron Johnson (here)


Pat Toomey’s Greatest Hits

July 18, 2016

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Well well, it looks like PA’s U.S. senatorial mistake is running for re-election, for the benefit of anyone who didn’t know that.

What has he been up to over the last six years? Well, let’s consider the following:

  • Remember the deadly Amtrak train crash in Philadelphia in May of last year? Well, as noted here, Toomey…

    …has campaigned (for years) to delay a multibillion-dollar railroad safety technology, calling it an “exorbitantly expensive unfunded mandate.”

    But safety officials say the technology would have prevented last week’s deadly train crash in Philadelphia. And Democrats argue that the railroads were starved of the money necessary to finish it.

    Interviewed two days after the crash, Toomey abandoned some of his budget-cutting bombast of years past. He’s dropped his sponsorship of legislation that would postpone the safety system rollout for several more years. And he says the Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority that he was trying to protect from unnecessary spending no longer needs a delay.

    Asked whether he thinks there should be any further delay in the positive train control system rollout, Toomey replied: “No.”

    Of course, 8 people were killed and over 200 people were injured (here), which, I suppose as far as Toomey is concerned, is a small price to pay to maintain his Teahadist bona fides.

  • Also, as noted from here

    After voting for sending our military to war in Iraq, Toomey voted against every – every – single Department of Veterans Affairs appropriations bill up to last December – as well as voting against the $21 billion standalone Veterans Health and Benefits Bill that would have helped at-risk veterans.

    Toomey voted against the standalone Veterans Jobs Act three years ago that would have helped returning Iraq and Afghanistan warriors find jobs at a time when their unemployment rate was higher than the unemployment rate of civilian Pennsylvanians. Toomey voted against the act even after it included a provision he requested for a jobs website.

    He has voted to defund Veterans Business Outreach Centers, which provide veterans with services that help them open businesses such as training, counseling, mentoring and referrals for eligible veterans who own a business or who want to start a small business. He’s voted against funding for the post-9/11 G.I. Bill, which helps veterans go back to school so they can learn new skills and get jobs.

    But of course, that doesn’t prevent Toomey from saying the following on his web site (here)…

    Senator Toomey is proud of our men and women in uniform who are currently serving to protect the United States. The son of a former U.S. Marine and representing a state with one of the largest veteran populations in the country, he is also acutely aware of the nation’s commitment to our veterans and their families who have sacrificed to preserve our freedom. He understands how important it is that we continue to provide quality medical care and other benefits to veterans, both to those who served a generation ago, and to those just returning from fighting in the war against terrorism.

    What a dick.

  • In addition, I’m sure no one doubts that Toomey is allegedly “pro life,” but did you know that Toomey invested in Yorktown University, a for-profit college that “pushes an extreme, anti-woman ideology and preys on vulnerable students, including veterans”?

    As noted from here

    Yorktown has long been criticized for lacking appropriate accreditation, offering courses of questionable academic value, and preying on veterans who receive government tuition assistance. The revelation of Toomey’s involvement with the shady business venture comes as he throws his support behind Donald Trump, who is currently under investigation for defrauding students with his Trump University business scheme.

    “Sen. Toomey has voted to ban abortion and block access to basic health care for Pennsylvania families, so it’s unsurprising that he’s been secretly profiting from a school that teaches nostalgia for the Dark Ages,” said James Owens, states communications director for NARAL Pro-Choice America. “Sen. Toomey has fought against Pennsylvania families in Washington and now we learn he’s personally profiting from a Trump-style scam university that takes advantage of hardworking students. Sen. Toomey may be trying to hide his allegiance to Donald Trump, but it’s pretty apparent they both have no problem disrespecting women and the families they support while scamming hardworking Americans, including our veterans, who are just trying to get ahead.”

    Sen. Toomey has pushed legislation that would drive taxpayer dollars to disreputable educational institutions like this scam-university in which he is invested, despite findings that such institutions provide substandard academic quality while shackling students with debt. Yorktown University pushes a radical conservative agenda and describes pop music, modern art, and the modern discipline of psychology as “signs of serious cultural disturbance.” It pedaled a course that referred to the Enlightenment—the burst of discovery and knowledge that created the intellectual framework for the Declaration of Independence—as a “failed moral revolution.” Toomey’s investment in Yorktown has supported “professors” like Lawrence Roberge, who taught fanatical, anti-woman conspiracy theories such as the debunked claim that tetanus vaccines cause abortions. The revelations about Sen. Toomey’s shady educational deals comes amid the scandal surrounding Trump University, the scam university that Donald Trump is accused of using to defraud students.

    And oh yes, as long as we’re talking about the all-but-named Republican nominee for president, I should note how Toomey is trying to have it both ways; as noted here, Toomey felt that he had some kind of a right to lecture Trump on being a uniter, not a divider, or something (remember that one?), but when asked if he would support Trump for president, Toomey couldn’t even be bothered with mentioning the name of “Fergus Laing.”

  • Let’s see now…when it comes to filibustering President Obama’s nominees, Toomey opposed CIA director John Brennan (here – not going to shed tears much for that, though), Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, Surgeon General Vivek Murthy (the last 3 here – Murthy must’ve offended the NRA by calling for treating gun violence as a public health issue as well as for a ban on assault weapons), and Supreme Court Nominee Merrick Garland (here).
  • Continuing, the following should be noted from here (harking back somewhat to the Amtrak accident):

    Sen. Toomey Personally Introduced Budgets That Would Require “Massive New Cuts” to Transportation and Infrastructure Funding. CBPP reported that Toomey’s FY 2012 budget “cuts funding for nondefense discretionary programs by nearly $1.5 trillion over the next 10 years…In 2021, it would impose a 30 percent cut in this category – which includes transportation and infrastructure.” Toomey’s FY 2013 budget would “make massive new cuts in non-defense discretionary spending, which funds everything from veterans’ health care to medical and scientific research, highways.”[CBPP, 5/25/11, 5/09/12]

    Sen. Toomey Repeatedly Supported House Republican Budgets That Threatened “Severe Cuts” to Transportation Infrastructure. Between 2011 and 2013, Toomey voted for the House Republican budget proposals. CBPP reported that the FY 2014 and 2013 budgets would threaten “severe cuts” for road and bridge planning, construction and rehabilitation. CBPP stated, “Cutting federal support for these projects would shift costs to states and localities, which would have to choose between raising more revenue or reducing their transportation investments and absorbing the indirect cost to their economies and quality of life.” ThinkProgress reported that Ryan’s FY 2012 budget “would strip more than $1.4 trillion from public investments in education, infrastructure.” [CBPP, 3/27/13, 12/05/12; ThinkProgress, 4/17/11; SCR 8, Vote #46, 3/21/13; HCR 112, Vote #98, 5/16/12; HCR 34, Vote #77, 5/25/11]

    Just Last Year – Sen. Toomey Voted for “Big Cuts” to Transportation Infrastructure. In 2015, Toomey voted for the Senate Republican budget proposal. CBPP reported that the budget would cut transportation and infrastructure funding by $123 billion, or 22 percent, over 10 years. CBPP reported that the budget would “result in significantly smaller highway and transit programs at a time when many urge more investment in infrastructure.” [CBPP, 3/27/15; SCR 11, Vote #171, 5/05/15]

    As noted here, though, this is in line with budgetary practices by Toomey that were considered to be harsher than Mr.-Puppy-Dog-Eyes-With-The-Shiv in the U.S. House here.

  • Toomey also introduced an amendment which would increase the threshold for bank examinations by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from $10 billion to $50 billion. Since most banks don’t meet that asset threshold, 99 percent of all banks in the nation would have no federal regulator ensuring that they followed consumer financial protection laws. Of course, this is typical for Toomey, who has done all he can to derail the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, as noted here.
  • Toomey abstained from voting for an amendment which would have reversed the $125 million cut in Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) funding to help retrain workers laid off by unfair foreign trade practices (S Amdt. 633 to HR 2832 – here).
  • Toomey also voted against the Clean Power Plan, which establishes the first-ever national standards to limit carbon pollution; the Plan will lead to climate and health benefits worth an estimated $55 billion to $93 billion in 2030, including avoiding 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths and 140,000 to 150,000 asthma attacks in children, according to the EPA (yes, I know the Supreme Court basically put all of this on hold, but that doesn’t change Toomey’s awful vote as far as I’m concerned – here).
  • Oh, and did I note that, according to an analysis from Buzzfeed News, Toomey missed 80 percent of Senate Budget Committee Hearings (to which Toomey belongs) since 2013 (here)?
  • And lest I forget, I should note that Toomey was one of 47 U.S. Senators who signed a letter telling Iran to ignore the nuclear deal negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry; speaking only for myself, I believe these 47 lowlifes are guilty of treason (here).
  • We have a golden opportunity to send Pat Toomey packing this year; let’s not waste it (to support Toomey’s Democratic opponent Katie McGinty, click here).


    PA’s Teahadist “Eminence Grise” Strikes Again (Updates)

    February 26, 2016

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    The Bucks County Courier Times recently gave column space to State Senator Scott Wagner, with predictable results (here)…

    More money — $3.6 billion to be exact. That is the amount of additional tax revenue Gov. Wolf wants from you to fund his tax and spend budget. To that I ask, “How dare he?”

    Although his budget address to a joint session of the General Assembly was lacking specifics of his 2016-2017 budget proposal, the reality is that Gov. Wolf is continuing the tax and spend theme presented last year.

    During his speech, the governor painted a doom and gloom picture as a means to convince the people of Pennsylvania — or maybe himself — that massive tax increases are needed to address the commonwealth’s fiscal problems. He even reflected back on his time as a business owner stating, “You have to take a clear-eyed look at how the problem arose, and then you have to solve it. And fast. Or you won’t be in business very long.”

    Besides failing to identify the real problem, Wolf’s only solution is to raise your taxes. Again, how dare he? How dare the governor ask for more money from the people of Pennsylvania without taking basic steps to control costs?

    How dare Gov. Wolf ask you to give him more money without:

    Doing anything to reform the pension system that is driving costs — and property taxes — through the roof?

    Actually, Wolf introduced the pension reform clamored for by Wagner and other Repugs last August, as noted here. But of course, that was shot down by the Repug-controlled General Assembly, including Wagner of course.

    And let’s not forget about how public employee pensions prop up local economies (so, if you start cutting, get ready to anticipate the ripple effects, as noted here).

    Oh, and Wolf’s budget includes property tax reform, as noted here (with York, the county “represented” by Wagner, poised to do well under the plan – that is, of course, if Wagner would actually support it).

    Continuing with Wagner…

    Reforming our archaic liquor distribution system to maximize not only consumer convenience but also revenue to the state?

    Actually, Wolf took a step in that direction by proposing a private manager, but of course, it isn’t outright privatization, so the Repugs and Wagner opposed it (here).

    Continuing with Wagner…

    Implementing a real hiring and wage freeze on state workers?

    In reality, Wolf ordered a hiring freeze last December, as noted here, even though a state meteorologist managed to get in before the freeze took effect (Wagner made a crack about that here, but as noted here, that’s actually a good idea; I’m sure this Jeff Jumper person could make much more money in the private sector). Of course, state government agencies managed to hire about 3,132 workers anyway; I don’t see how Wolf could be blamed for that.

    Continuing with Wagner…

    Asking for more concessions from state employees that enjoy pay and benefits unmatched in the private sector?

    As noted here for 2012 (the most recent year that I could find data for), on average, a public-sector employee’s salary can range from about $38,000 to about $66,000, with PA workers in the mid-range of that on average; I don’t know how “unmatched” the benefits are, but the pay certainly isn’t.

    Of course, demagoguery on the subject of public employees is typical for Wagner who, as noted here, made his fortune in waste disposal and trucking before he won a special election in 2014 and entered public life. And soon after that, he referred to public sector unions as “kind of like Hitler and Stalin and Putin”…nice.

    Continuing with Wagner…

    Asking for concessions from the money managers that get paid hundreds of millions of dollars to manage the state pension funds?

    This may come as a shock, but Wagner is actually right about that. And Wolf agrees with him and has proposed firing the higher-fee managers and replacing them with lower-fee ones, particularly since the funds of the lower-fee managers have outperformed their counterparts (here).

    Continuing with Wagner…

    Using savings from innovations and efficiency to shrink the looming budget deficit?

    I don’t know what that means, and somehow I don’t think Wagner does either.

    At this point, I think I’ll stop critiquing the rest of what Wagner said, particularly since he repeats himself like crazy for the rest of his Guest Opinion (besides, at this point, we already know that Wagner is a pro when it comes to regurgitating talking points from the Commonwealth Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, and other Teahadist-affiliated groups).

    Instead, I’ll provide more information on Wagner, who, as noted here, is a big-time advocate of charter schools (as noted here, Wagner once tried to guess at how well-funded he thought public schools were in his district by flying over them and observing from a helicopter). And as noted above, in addition to direct loans, he also tried some back-door means to fund charters through gaming revenue, which proceeded to totally piss off the school districts where the charters were located (here).

    And another thing – let’s not forget how well-versed Wagner is when it comes to the eliminationist rhetoric supposedly employed by Wolf (re., the “garbage” reference Wolf used to refer to the Repug General Assembly proposal last December), with Wagner claiming that he and his same-party pals “had their foot on Wolf’s throat, and (we) let him up” here.

    Also, even though the Courier Times has the right to print an opinion of this type no matter how wacky it is, what does it tell you about how far out on the fringe Wagner resides on this issue given that the paper cheered on Governor Wolf when he rejected the GOP’s sham attempt at a budget (here)? This came after a budget more in line with what Wolf has promised passed the PA Senate 43-7, as noted here (and guess who was one of the 7 “No” votes, as noted here?).

    As far as I’m concerned, Scott Wagner is more responsible than anyone else in Harrisburg for our current budget impasse for all of the reasons noted previously. And kids, those living in poverty, families, minorities, and working men and women in this state (including those previously-mentioned public sector workers he despises, including policemen, firemen, nurses and teachers among many others) have all suffered and will continue to suffer as a result.

    Update 1 3/5/16: Given what Wagner said above, I think it’s important to note the following (from here – h/t Atrios)…

    My own state has a budget hole that the legislature is going to blow open worse next year as they expand tax cuts for energy producers, and up north in Pennslyvania (sic), Gov. Wolf is trying to clean up Corbett’s mess but Republicans are having a god damned siezure (sic) over raising the personal income tax from 3.07 percent to 3.4 percent. You read that right. from .0307 to .034. Meaning for every hundred dollars of taxable income, your income tax rises from $3.07 to $3.40. For the median income in PA, that is basically 150 bucks a year.

    So when Wagner says “How dare he?” about Wolf, it has to do a tax raise that is, on average, about $150 a year.

    I just want to make sure we all understand that.

    Update 2 3/5/16: Another response is here.

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    Update 3/30/17: So Teahadist Wagner (who of course has announced that he’ll challenge PA Dem Gov. Tom Wolf) believe that climate change is taking place because of “warm bodies” (here)? Truly, it is to laugh (though the consequences definitely aren’t funny of course).


    For The “Faithful,” A Walk On The “Wilde” Side

    October 26, 2015

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    For personal reasons, I should note that your humble narrator happened to be in the vicinity of Huntingdon Valley/Lower Moreland PA outside of Philadelphia last Saturday evening at around 4:30-4:45. Being Catholic, I looked for evening services and remembered that I was in the vicinity of St. Albert’s Parish, so that’s where I went.

    I hadn’t been inside the church for a long time, and I didn’t realize that it had been remodeled; I would guess that about a third of the pews had been removed and the altar had been lowered and reconfigured a bit. I couldn’t immediately located the tabernacle, but after a minute or so, I realized that it had also been lowered and set off slightly to the right of the church (facing towards the congregation – always surprised when it isn’t centered and elevated on the altar a bit since I think that should be the focal point of everything; guess I’m just a purist that way).

    So I enter the church and settle myself a bit, and the service begins in the usual way. I find out that the celebrant is Msgr. Joseph Duncan, the pastor, and the mass would be co-celebrated by Rev. Denis Wilde of Priests for Life (we’re reminded that October is Respect Life month, which actually was the first sign of trouble).

    The Liturgy of the Word portion of the Mass proceeds through the readings and to the Gospel (read by Wilde, Mark 10:51 I believe), and then he starts with the homily.

    And, my fellow prisoners, I must tell you that I have never heard such intolerant, hateful garbage in my life.

    Wilde spoke briefly about the Gospel reading, and of course latched onto the theme of blindness to blow all of the typical conservative dog whistles (“abortion on demand,” “culture of death” – sorry I can’t paraphrase all of them properly, but it was the most ferocious right-wing verbal assault that I’d ever heard and I don’t recall every word as I’d like). And Wilde is a polished practitioner at this sort of thing, going on for nearly 40 minutes and sounding syrupy smooth for most of his rant, though he chose to yell at us at the very end, presumably to exhort us into action (this nonsense may work for those Teahadist fools or “values voter” morons, but at the time, it did nothing for me but make me more pissed off than I already was).

    As I debated whether or not I should get up from my spot in the middle of the pew, excuse myself and leave, I basically rubbed my hands together because I found myself so enraged that I didn’t know what else to do with them. I was far away from the altar so that rushing to the pulpit and wringing Wilde’s neck wasn’t an option (I wouldn’t have done that in church anyway of course, despite how awful Wilde was).

    To me, though, the whole “respect life” thing is cover for the Church anyway. What they really care about (and the reason for Wilde’s appearance) is Election Day on November 3rd; we’re going to be voting for PA Supreme Court judges, among other contests. The court currently has a 3-2 Republican majority over the two Democratic judges, and Wilde and his fellow “pro-life” zealots want to keep, and possibly build on, their Republican majority, since they have had much more success on the state level than the federal level in trying to carry out their anti-woman (and anti-family, I would argue) agenda.

    So what exactly can we do about this? Well, if you live in PA, you can support Dems David Wecht, Christine Donohue and Kevin Dougherty for the PA Supreme Court (more here and here).

    Of course, since we’re talking about the Catholic Church, they can’t literally tell people to vote Republican or that would endanger their non-profit tax status. So they use code language, which Wilde did artfully, such as telling people not to vote “checkbook union” (not too much of a stretch to realize what political party THAT was aimed at – when I heard that, I REALLY DID want to run up to the altar and punch Wilde in the face…I didn’t of course partly because I knew I was in God’s house, and I also would be arrested).

    Oh, and did I mention that on every occasion where Wilde uttered the phrase “a woman’s right to choose” (which he did about four times), he laughed? Also, he said at one point that 48 million unborn children had been killed through abortion since Roe v. Wade in 1973 (choosing to forget, of course, the fact that abortions had been performed pretty much since the beginning of recorded time), and at another point in his rant, he said that 58 million had been killed…he should get his propaganda straight the next time he demagogues in public like this (and knowing someone like Wilde, I can just about tell you that there WILL BE a next time).

    All of this made me curious about Wilde, so I did some searching online for both him and Priests for Life. You soon find that this group has filed innumerable lawsuits, particularly against the Affordable Care Law, to the point that, were you inclined to donate to the group (which I definitely am NOT), you probably would be paying for court costs and legal fees as opposed to anything that would be more germane to what should be the spiritual mission of this organization. And to me, this point was driven home by the fact that, as noted here, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of the Archdiocese of New York broke with Priests for Life and the group’s head, Fr. Frank Pavone, because the group would not submit to a forensic audit.

    As for what you might call Wilde’s own “body of work,” he was once arrested with several others while protesting outside of the White House here, basically for refusing to obey an order to disperse while protesting the so-called contraception mandate of the already-noted Affordable Care Law. And what was Wilde’s response?

    ”Occupy Wall Street protesters have been occupying federal property for months, but when we kneel in prayer, the police are called in and we are arrested,” Father Wilde said.

    Well, my guess is that the Occupy protesters were ordered to disperse and actually obeyed the law, unlike you apparently.

    Also, as noted here (tied in a bit with the number of unborn supposedly killed by abortion since 1973, the number that got mixed up), Wilde tried to equate his pro-life efforts with the civil rights battles fought by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., which is a familiar refrain for these individuals (and of course echoed by at least one Republican Party presidential candidate, as noted here). I should also note that Wilde compared the death of Terri Schiavo to 9/11 here (in a quote from the article, Wilde used the phrase “the womb is the most dangerous place to live,” which he also used in his homily).

    Another legislative priority for Priest for Life is the so-called “Pain Capable Unborn Child Protection Act,” which has passed the U.S. House, though it is currently blocked in the U.S. Senate (and which President Obama has, quite rightly as far as I’m concerned, promised to veto). Basically, the bill is a ban on all abortions after 20 weeks. And as noted from here

    Compassionate choices appear at a minimum in the House’s 20-week legislation, which contains no exceptions for women’s health or fetal abnormalities.

    During floor debate last month, Democrat Louise Slaughter, of New York, called the bill “disgustingly cruel” and Democrat Jackie Speier, of California, talked about how it felt to “carry around a dead fetus for two days” while waiting to obtain an abortion.

    And while the legislation has exceptions for rape and incest victims, women who have been sexually assaulted must get counseling – not from an abortion provider – within 48 hours of obtaining an abortion. (Two doctor’s visits can mean increased cost and days off from work, prohibitive mandates for many women.) Minor rape victims must report their assault to the police, and there is no exception for adult incest victims.

    “There is no science or medicine behind 20 week bans – just politics,” Planned Parenthood Cecile Richards said in a statement. “The vast majority of abortions occur in the first trimester – but that doesn’t mean it’s the only time a woman might need an abortion.”

    As Richards pointed out in an interview with Democracy Now, abortions after 20 weeks are extremely rare: “This is usually a situation where you have a very much-wanted pregnancy go wrong and where doctors and women and their families need the best medical care possible.”

    All of this amplifies (as far as I’m concerned) the belief that, as Sister Joan Chittister O.S.B. tells us here

    “I do not believe that just because you’re opposed to abortion, that that makes you pro-life. In fact, I think in many cases, your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. And why would I think that you don’t? Because you don’t want any tax money to go there. That’s not pro-life. That’s pro-birth. We need a much broader conversation on what the morality of pro-life is.”

    And that is something that Wilde, for all of his snake-oil-salesman-cleverness, will never choose to understand.

    Try laughing at that, you disgusting fraud (oh, and by the way, after this episode, I’ll never enter St. Albert’s Parish again).

    Update 10/29/15: Uh, yep.

    Update 4/1/16: And I’m sure Wilde thinks this is perfectly acceptable too.


    The Rehabilitation of Jim Cawley?

    January 16, 2015

    Cawley_Corbett_20101108_inq_se1cawley05z-a
    (Note: For a lot of reasons, my typical posting activity is going to be greatly constrained, but I hope to be able to post periodically on selected topics. We’ll see.)

    This story (sourced from a recent edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer) tells us the following…

    PHILADELPHIA, Jan., 13, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Jim Cawley has been named president and chief executive officer of United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey (UWGPSNJ), effective February 9. The announcement was made by Lon Greenberg, chairman, UGI Corporation/AmeriGas and chair of UWGPSNJ’s regional Board of Directors, following a six-month national search.

    “The Board was determined to identify a leader who demonstrated a commitment to serving the community and carrying out our mission, and who possessed the ability to build relationships, engender trust in the community and generate results. We considered a wide cross section of candidates, and Jim was the clear choice,” says Greenberg. “He has spent the majority of his career in the service of others, both regionally and nationally, developing productive relationships and leading large groups of constituents to success. As lieutenant governor, he also has a unique understanding of how United Way’s Impact areas connect, and how strategic improvements in Education, Income and Health can lift the entire region.”

    Philadelphia Mayor Michael A. Nutter endorsed the Board’s selection. “Jim Cawley is a great guy and a fantastic public servant. I truly enjoyed working with him when he was a County Commissioner in Bucks County, in part because he always displayed a regional perspective on issues. He understood that we are one Philadelphia region with one common future,” says Mayor Nutter. “As lieutenant governor, Jim Cawley was always available and always listened when my team and I needed to discuss issues related to legislation or economic development projects. He is a great friend to Philadelphia and the Commonwealth and he cares passionately. I know that he will do a terrific job in his new position at the helm of United Way.”

    “A great guy”? “A fantastic public servant”? Did I miss a memo or something?

    Gosh, that’s not the Jim Cawley I remember from his days as a Bucks County Commissioner.

    To wit…

  • As noted here, Cawley once said that he was “far from somebody who is rooting for the (Democratic) economic stimulus package” here (of course, forget for a moment the myriad benefits of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act as noted in the post.
  • He also supported so-called “right to work” legislation here (should REALLY be called right not to be paid a living wage – first bullet; by the way, it turns out that Richard Yuengling Jr., head of the PA beer company, supports it also as noted here…a shame to have to give up that brand now since I enjoy it).
  • This includes a veritable potpourri of bad governing decisions here that you can file under the heading of lack of transparency (with the Bucks commissioners, including Cawley at that time, refusing to provide more information on hiring and firing decisions, a budget being constructed which supposedly held the line on tax increases with no feedback from the county commissioners, again including Cawley…oh, and the entire fiasco over moving the voting location from the Creekside Apartments in Bensalem, PA in an effort to hurt Democratic electoral turnout also happened while Cawley was a Bucks commissioner, let’s not forget).
  • And of course, it’s “full steam ahead, water-on-fire-be-damned” when it comes to Cawley and fracking as noted here (4th bullet).
  • In addition to the Creekside fiasco, this tells us how Cawley made sure that about $400 grand of taxpayer dough in Bucks went to a golf course (hardly economically stimulative as opposed to true shovel-ready projects); we also learn that Cawley helped to steer about $200 an hour in legal services to the Langhorne, PA firm of Begley, Carlin & Mandio (which had given $142,000 to county Republicans and commissioner campaigns in the past seven years), and on that same day that the firm received the award, six of the firm’s attorneys contributed $9,000 to the county GOP, according to an analysis by the Democrats (last bullet).
  • Also, here is a reminder that Cawley may have had a hand in the supposed “third-party” candidacy of one Jay Russell in his run for a post as Bucks County Commissioner (think Ralph Nader in Florida in 2000 – Russell worked at a hardware store and apparently had no political experience), as noted in the comments from here. That ordinarily would not be a big deal, but that year, Russell ended up siphoning off just enough votes to prevent Steve Santarsiero from being elected as a commissioner and giving the board a Democratic majority.
  • Oh, and by the way, I couldn’t find anything in the prnewswire story about Cawley’s compensation for his new non-profit job.

    All of this makes me take an even dimmer view of United Way than the one I already have (here) – probably a lot more worthwhile charities to donate to, especially with a toad like Cawley running the local branch of this outfit.


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