Notes From The Day After (Updates)

November 7, 2018

Day_After_e5c80f136b-P Clean 9

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).


Friday Mashup (4/5/13)

April 5, 2013

Carson_Turbo

  • This tells us that the crybabies were out in force recently (for anyone unfamiliar with the admittedly dated boomer reference in the pic, rest assured that it’s appropriate)…

    The Bucks County commissioners should officially vote to assure all residents of its unwavering support of legal gun ownership in America.

    That was the request put forward Wednesday by gun-rights advocates stirred up by a recent inquiry led by Commissioner Diane Marseglia.

    During a retirement board meeting in March, Marseglia asked for and received support for a review of pension plan investments in companies that manufacture, distribute or sell guns.

    No further action was taken by the board, though the move has sparked outrage from some gun owners.

    Andrew Rumbold of Perkasie said Marseglia’s inquiry was only further evidence that “our constitutions, both federal and state, are coming under attack.”

    Oh yes, how dare that baaad Dem Bucks Commissioner Diane Marseglia try to get the county out of the business of helping to subsidize the wholesale death and carnage industry.

    And the outcry from the methane dispensers in attendance yielded the following reaction from Mr. “I Have A Semi-Open Mind” and his accomplice…

    The commissioners quickly responded. During the meeting, Charley Martin put on his National Rifle Association ball cap. Rob Loughery spoke briefly about his 12-gauge shotgun.

    And as they did so, the process of human evolution no doubt came to a standstill for an unspecified period (somewhere, Barney Fife is smiling as he forgets to load the bullet into his gun).

    Rumbold
    And speaking of Andrew Rumbold (pictured above), it should come as absolutely no surprise that he once ran for the PA Republican committee along with Simon Campbell and Jennifer Stefano (if it sounds like the Teahadists and reeks like the Teahadists…) but was apparently sued for his efforts by the three “endorsed” Repug committee candidates, George F. Komelasky, Joseph Cullen and “Skip” Goodnoe (here).

    Nothing like a wingnut circular firing squad, is there?


    And in other Bucks County political news, it looks like Mikey the Beloved has his first Dem challenger for 2014, and that would be Iraq and Afghanistan war veteran Kevin Strouse, as noted here (more info is here).

  • Next, this tells us the following (speaking of weaponry)…

    “The U.S. has a system for controlling arms exports that, though too complex, is basically reasonable.”

    According to HuffPo here, the “basically reasonable” U.S. exported about $66 billion in arms in 2011, while Russia, our nearest competition in that area, sold $4.8 billion.

    This is tied into the following story as noted by Think Progress of an Arms Trade Treaty that was recently passed by the U.N., which, by all appearances, seems to have been necessitated by our cornering of that market all over the world (“We’re Number One! We’re Number One! U-S-A! U-S-A!”).

  • And keeping with the theme of world stuff, Claudia Rosett of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies recently opined as follows in the Murdoch Street Journal (here, about how Iran is trying to win favor throughout the U.N. – I’m sure there’s at least a kernel of truth here, but as far as I’m concerned, Israel should manage its own problems and leave us out of it)…

    Unlike in the case of Iraq—where the 2003 toppling of Saddam Hussein exposed troves of financial records that helped explain how Baghdad persuaded the U.N. to ignore its own sanctions against Iraq—there is no access right now to Iran’s internal records. Perhaps with time, more will become clear.

    In the matter of U.S. sanctions against Iraq, this from John Pilger of antiwar.com tells us the following…

    In 1999, I traveled to Iraq with Denis Halliday, who had resigned as assistant secretary-general of the United Nations rather than enforce a punitive UN embargo on Iraq. Devised and policed by the United States and Britain, the extreme suffering caused by these “sanctions” included, according to Unicef, the deaths of half a million Iraqi children under the age of five.

    Ten years later, in New York, I met the senior British official responsible for the imposition of sanctions. He is Carne Ross, once known in the UN as “Mr.Iraq.” I read to him a statement he made to a parliamentary select committee in 2007: “The weight of evidence clearly indicates that sanctions caused massive human suffering among ordinary Iraqis, particularly children. We, the US and UK governments, were the primary engineers and offenders of sanctions and were well aware of this evidence at the time but we largely ignored it or blamed it on the Saddam government. [We] effectively denied the entire population a means to live.”

    I said, “That’s a shocking admission.”

    “Yes, I agree,” he replied. “I feel very ashamed about it.”

    So should we all (And nothing like creating a whole new generation of terrorists that we can arbitrarily decide to kill with our flying death robots, is there?).

  • Further (and returning to this country), this tells us of the consequences of PA’s illustrious governor Tom (“Space Cadet”) Corbett’s refusal to accept additional billions of dollars in Medicaid funds for our beloved commonwealth (though this does tie into the theme of victimizing those who can afford it the least…not much else to add here except maybe this).
  • Continuing, it looks like Dennis Miller has some competition in the “wingnut alleged comedian” category based on this

    Comedian Evan Sayet says he transformed from a self-described “brain-dead liberal” to a “9/13 Republican” because of his liberal friends’ failure to recognize the evil that motivated the terrorists who carried out the 9/11 attacks on America.

    “What surprised me, what rocked my world, is what I metaphorically call 9/12. That’s the days, the weeks, the months and now the years after 9/11 and my liberal friends’ response to it,” Sayet told The Daily Caller’s Ginni Thomas.

    “Here’s the most obvious case of good versus evil of my lifetime — perhaps the only case of good versus evil that hit anywhere close to home — and not only were the liberals on the side of the terrorists, but they were engaging in the most horrible slanders against the victims.”

    Oh, and for good measure, “Political analyst Michael Barone says Sayet has ‘crossed the line from funny to important’” according to The Daily Tucker.

    Yep, I would say that Sayet has crossed a line all right, but not in the way that he imagines (of course, he offers no proof whatsoever to back up his utterly scurrilous charges, and I for one have no desire to do the research on this that he should have done himself).

    Also, this tells us that Sayet was to have been featured on the right-wing comedy network sponsored by Ed Snider, owner of the Philadelphia Flyers (as far as I’m concerned, the concept itself writes its own punch line…and yes, kudos to the team for playing better recently, but I can’t get excited about a possible first-round win and likely second-round loss in the playoffs, assuming they even make it).

    We also learn from the Daily Caller post that Sayet is (or, at least, was) a fan of that dastardly liberal Bruce Springsteen, particularly in reference to songs by “The Boss” about cars.

    This brings to mind the following lyric: “The highway’s jammed with broken heroes on a last-chance power drive” (I’ll admit, however, that it’s a stretch to consider Sayet to be a “hero” about anything).

  • Staying with Tucker Carlson’s Crayon Scribble Page, this tells us the following…

    Convicted murderer Mumia Abu-Jamal has received three nominations on a web page for the “Unsung Hero” project from the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).

    The project, launched during Black History Month, allows users to highlight influential civil rights leaders in exchange for an email address and postal code.

    The NAACP displays about 100 nominations, including the pro-Mumia nominations, on the website for its 2013 “Unsung Heroes” project, which asks the public for nominations, under the title, “Your Heroes.” Abu-Jamal, a former member of the Black Panther Party, was convicted for the December 1981 murder of Philadelphia police officer Daniel Faulkner, stemming from a shootout that resulted after Abu-Jamal approached Faulkner, who had pulled over Abu-Jamal’s younger brother at a traffic stop.

    Of course, let’s forget shall we that the NAACP page has nominations of many other meritorious individuals as well as that of the convicted killer of Officer Faulkner (this reminds me of the urban legend of MoveOn.org supposedly awarding first prize to a commercial about an attempt to assassinate George W. Bush, or something). The post from The Daily Tucker also tells us that, as a test, this Patrick Howley person submitted a couple of bogus nominations but they were filtered, while the Mumia Abu-Jamal nominations weren’t.

    I just have a couple of points in response:

    1) Is Howley prepared to state, once and for all and on the record, that neither he nor anyone else at The Daily Tucker had anything to do with the three M A-J nominations?
    2) Does this Howley person realize that he has done far more to publicize the cause for M A-J than any other left-wing site that I have yet seen? The post tells us about a “Free Mumia” rally in Philadelphia on April 24th and a new documentary about Jamal that has just been released.

    The best thing to do about Mumia Abu-Jamal is ignore him and let him rot, especially since the question about capital punishment is no longer in play.

  • Obama-laughing

  • Finally, I have to tell you that I’m currently boiling mad at this guy, for the reasons noted here.

    It’s not enough that, as noted here, his administration didn’t bother to investigate fraudulent lending practices as he said he would. Now, he’s putting proposals to cut Medicare and Social Security on the table in an effort to make Republicans (and by extension, the Beltway media-political complex) like him at long last (of course, Social Security doesn’t have a damn thing to do with the deficit or the debt, but this is where we are).

    Congressional Republicans are truly lucky. They have at their disposal, between Obama in the White House and Harry Reid in the Senate, the most utterly feckless Democratic “opposition” on the federal level that I have ever seen.

    Mr. President, you’re a smart man. Try to get this through your head. Follow through on these boneheaded ideas (which Congress probably won’t do anyway, since they apparently know the electoral calculus better than you do) and, at the very least, you will give over all branches of the federal government to the Republicans by 2016 by utterly and completely demoralizing your base to the point where they won’t turn out to the polls in the numbers that will be needed. And this country can’t survive another turn like that.

    Try representing the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party for a change.

    Update 1: And once more, the Obama Administration gives me grist to justify my griping (here).

    And by the way, I want to emphasize something. It’s not just the fact that the supposed effort to investigate mortgage fraud was an utter sham. It’s not just the cave-in on what has been referred to as “chained CPI.” And it’s not just the administration’s opposition to contraception for women under 17.

    It’s part of the whole bloody, stinking pattern of this administration to often (and usually on crucial issues) run against the needs and wishes of its base (and as I’ve said in the past, as much as I detested Dubya and our prior ruling cabal in the White House, they had a laser focus on the people who got them where they were and they acted accordingly, at least as long as Turd Blossom took up residence there also).

    No, I don’t expect the Obama Administration to do everything I want. I couldn’t possibly expect that out of anyone in good conscience. But I DON’T expect them, nor should anyone expect them, to cater so slavishly to an opposition constituency that HAS ONLY HATED THEM IN THE PAST and WILL DO NOTHING BUT HATE THEM NOW AND FOR ALL TIME, and in the process, tie the proverbial millstone around the neck of the Democratic Party that it will have to carry through election cycles in the immediate and forseeable future.

    Update 2: And oh yeah, remember the economy (here)?

    Update 4/10/13: So let me guess…2.3 million people are wrong and you’re right (here)?


  • Tuesday Mashup (9/28/10)

    September 29, 2010

  • 1) The Bucks County Courier Time informed us of the following yesterday (here)…

    Pennsylvania should be considering right to work legislation to make the state more competitive in the current economic climate, said Bucks County Commissioner Jim Cawley.

    The Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, Cawley has expressed that point of view while campaigning in parts of Pennsylvania. He can be seen in an online video at the Altoona First Festival in Blair County with a tea party member who asks his position on the Right to Work Act.

    “The last thing we need to do is put more impediments and demands on the expenses we face,” Cawley says in the video, which can be viewed on YouTube.com. “Right to work legislation is something that its time has come.”

    Water wet, sky blue, teabaggers are really Republicans in search of a political convention and/or an angry mob (assuming they don’t constitute one themselves) – this is a recording, I know.

    This Wikipedia article gives us at least two reasons why the “right to work” movement is yet another triumph of right-wing propaganda: 1) In 2003 the rate of workplace fatalities per 100,000 workers was highest in right-to-work states, and 2) Opponents argue right-to-work laws create a “free-rider” problem, in which non-union employees (who are bound by the terms of the union contract even though they are not members of the union) benefit from collective bargaining without paying union dues – to say nothing of the fact that the “right to work” movement is sponsored by right-wing groups anyway, of course.

    Meanwhile, Cawley’s fellow supervisor Diane Marseglia does the right thing again (here)…

    As Bucks County officials prepare to solicit bids to build a new courthouse, Commissioner Diane Ellis-Marseglia is making another push for an agreement that would require contractors on the project to follow union rules and policies.

    The project labor agreement Marseglia wants has been a source of controversy since the early discussion about the Justice Center project took place in 2004.

    The board of commissioners’ Republican majority say they have explored and rejected the possibility of using a PLA or similar requirements, and Commissioners Charley Martin and Jim Cawley said they won’t support one now.

    Even if the political support existed for a PLA on the Justice Center, putting it in place now would delay the project by months, Bucks County Purchasing Director Maureen McIlvaine said.

    “When other people have done this, it has taken months and months and months to hammer out the details of the labor agreement,” McIlvaine said.

    As Blue Mass Group tells us here, however…

    A Project Labor Agreement is a trade-off between the project owner…and the people building the project. Basically, the (county) agrees to hire all workers on the project through specified union halls, and non-union workers have to pay union dues while on the project. In exchange, the (county) gets a guarantee of labor peace – no strikes, slowdowns, etc. – and also sets wages for the life of the project so that it won’t be hit with unanticipated wage increases.

    What this does not mean is that non-union contractors are prohibited from bidding on these projects. It may mean that, in practice, they are unlikely to win them. But they can still bid. Even the PLA-hating Beacon Hill Institute describes the situation this way (PDF, p. 7):

    …open-shop contractors contend that their competitive advantages are nullified by the PLA. The result is that in practice, if not in principle, they are unable to bid competitively on jobs that have a PLA requirement.

    Furthermore, the Supreme Judicial Court held a decade ago that PLAs are acceptable only in certain kinds of construction projects.

    We do not articulate a bright-line, litmus-test standard for determining when the use of a PLA is appropriate. Nor do we conclude that a PLA will be justified in all, or even most, circumstances. A project must be of substantial size, duration, timing, and complexity, and the interplay between all four of these factors must be considered. It may be that, in certain cases, the sheer size of a project warrants the adoption of a PLA.

    I know I’m just a filthy, unkempt liberal blogger, but if I were in charge of the construction of the Justice Center, I would implement a PLA to control costs and make sure everyone working on the project had comparable skill sets to ensure the quality of the work.

    (Again, as much as I don’t want to see Tom Corbett win in November, part of me wouldn’t mind in the least seeing Jim Cawley leave this county for a minimum of four years.)

  • 2) Next, I give you the following from The Weakly Standard (here – on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the first televised debate between John F. Kennedy and Richard Nixon…more wingnut harrumphing over the recollections of Kennedy confidant Ted Sorensen – typical of conservatives; too much trouble to just leave the man alone at this point I guess)…

    While maintaining his standard posture that John F. Kennedy was a man of uncommon intelligence, charm, grace, wisdom, and magnetism, he is more contemptuous of Richard Nixon this time than abusive. Indeed, all goes relatively well until the last two sentences:

    Though it seemed at the time to be a battle between two opposing worldviews, the truth is that the two candidates did not vastly differ in that first debate. And while Kennedy would probably find a home in today’s Democratic Party, it is unlikely that Nixon would receive a warm welcome among the Tea Party.

    Oh? The Richard Nixon of 1960 may or may not get a friendly reception from the Tea Party of 2010—however that is defined—but is Sorensen serious when he suggests that the John Kennedy of 1960 “would probably find a home” in the party of Eric Holder, DailyKos, Keith Olbermann, MoveOn.org, Barbara Boxer, and Alan Grayson?

    What Ted Sorensen’s boss would have thought of gay marriage, cap-and-trade, racial quotas, Bill Ayers, and nationalizing General Motors, we can only speculate.

    Oh, I think we can do a little bit more than that on at least one issue (there’s enough red meat in what Philip Terzian says for a few more blog posts I guess, but this will have to do for now).

    I’ll let those in charge of the Nixon legacy defend Tricky Dick (my guess is that, since Nixon invented the “Southern strategy” that gave political clout to the life forms who largely comprise the teabaggers, I think he would be better received than anybody thinks), but as far as JFK is concerned, I have a feeling that he would have indeed defended legislation to reduce carbon emissions in pursuit of both saving the planet and ultimately ending our addiction to oil.

    And I say that because of quotes such as this (from here)…

    All this is not unrelated to world peace. “When a man’s ways please the Lord,” the Scriptures tell us, “he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.” And is not peace, in the last analysis, basically a matter human rights – – the right to live out our lives without fear of devastation – – the right to breathe air as nature provided it – – the right of future generations to a healthy existence?

    And the .pdf from here contains the following words from our 35th president (at the Institute for Conservation Studies in Milford, PA on September 24, 1963, in a tribute to conservationist Gifford Pinchot)…

    I begin today a journey to save America’s natural heritage – a journey to protect the past and preserve the future.

    Today’s conservation movement must therefore embrace disciplines scarcely known to its prophets of the past. It must marshal our vast technological capacity on behalf of our vast resource supplies.

    The American people are not by nature selfish and wasteful. They are not unappreciative of the heritage of the past and their obligation to the future. But without guidance and information, without leadership and inspiration, without the qualities provided by Pinchot in his day which this Institute can provide in our time, mistakes will be made – mistakes which can never be undone.

    Fortunately there is evidence that this nation, once alerted, can take constructive actions – actions for which our grandchildren and their grandchildren will be ever more grateful than we.

    The dispute is no longer one of principles or goals – it is now merely a question of pace and means. And no one maintains that the obligation to use our resources efficiently and thoughtfully depends solely on the Federal Government. Nor is conservation merely the job of the park ranger or the forest ranger, the soil conservationist or the game warden. Conservation is the job of us all.

    …the role played by the Federal Government is a key one. Its attitude, effort, legislation and example all influence the national pattern.

    But in the field of resources, opportunities delayed are frequently opportunities lost – and those that are not lost are clearly more costly to achieve.

    This Nation is now rising to the challenge of exploring the vast universe of space. That is as it should be – for we cannot afford to ignore that challenge. But neither can we afford to neglect the universe here below.

    …”a Nation whose national resources are destroyed must inevitably pay the penalty of poverty, degradation and decay…Conservation…is the key to the future.”

    Yeah, speaking only for myself, I think Kennedy would have been “all over” cap and trade legislation; more than that, I can just imagine how rightly stinging his rhetoric would be over our inaction to date.

  • Update 10/31/10: And I’m sure this makes Terzian’s day.

  • 3) Finally, we found out from that Franklin and Marshall poll last week that Mike Fitzpatrick was supposedly leading Patrick Murphy by 10 points in the PA-08 contest (here).

    Well, this tells us that Murphy has a slight lead over Mikey in this recently-commissioned poll (which is pretty much what we figured anyway…that this contest would go down to the wire, I mean).

    And to help our incumbent congressman, click here.

    (And speaking of Mikey…)


  • Thursday Mashup (4/22/10)

    April 23, 2010
  • 1) Occasionally the Bucks County Courier Times experiences a journalistically lucid moment, and they did so yesterday here in an editorial about departing County Operations Office David Sanko…

    Sanko, an ex-big wig with the GOP, was hired in 2004 at $125,000 a year, not exorbitant for the chief executive of a large organization. But let’s remember that his was – and remains – a government job, which means the benefits are good and holidays plentiful.

    When Sanko resigned five years later, he was earning $140,688. Again, not outrageous. But during that time Sanko also drove a county car, compliments of taxpayers. And, it turns out, he received a sweet retirement deal – also compliments of taxpayers.

    How sweet became clear this week when the county revealed that Sanko received $76,500 – the amount the county deposited into a “457” retirement fund for Sanko over his tenure. Unlike the shrunken 401(k) retirement accounts most people in the private sector have, Sanko did not have to deposit any of his own income into the account, according to the county finance director.

    That’s not how it works for other non-union county workers. Their 457 retirement plans are built on the employees’ own contributions; the county doesn’t throw in a dime. That Sanko’s retirement deal turned the formula upside down made it unique in Bucks County, the finance director said.

    Uniquely generous!

    In fact, when taxpayers file their federal income tax returns next year, they might consider claiming part of Sanko’s retirement as a charitable contribution. Or maybe they should consider it a political contribution.

    Either way, taxpayers’ charity doesn’t end there. The “deferred compensation” Sanko received is just part of his retirement deal. When Sanko reaches 60 he’ll be entitled to pension payments of $18,000 a year – for his five years of service here.

    The editorial points out that Dem Bucks County Supervisor Diane Marseglia has quite rightly said that a deal should not be signed for a new supervisor unless the compensation for this individual is held up for public scrutiny.

    Well, given that Director of Finance and Administration Brian Hessenthaler was promoted yesterday to fill Sanko’s job (supported by all three commissioners, as noted here), I think any hint of controversy has been avoided for the moment at least (Hessenthaler deserves the benefit of the doubt, though I’d be curious to learn more about the other job applicants).

    Oh, and in the story about Hessenthaler’s promotion, we also learn the following…

    Commissioner Jim Cawley said there has been an unfair implication that Sanko’s benefits were concealed, when, in fact, his contract was a public document from the moment he was hired.

    Well, I don’t know where this public document supposedly is. I just spent a few minutes here looking for it, and I’ve come up empty.

    And I’m sure Hessenthaler will represent an improvement over his predecessor, who is recalled not so fondly here.

  • 2) Also, I stumbled across this item in which Fix Noise pokes fun at another Democrat, in this case Harry Reid for not returning a campaign donation from Goldman Sachs (I’m not thrilled about him receiving a donation like that either, though there a lot of corporate malefactors out there besides them; Lloyd Blankfein and his pals are particularly bad, I’ll admit)…

    It’s no secret that politicians constantly travel to Wall Street to raise money from the deep-pocketed financial industry executives. It happens all the time, and the financial crisis didn’t change much. Senate Banking Committee Chairman Chris Dodd, D-CT, recently reiterated that this is a good reason to enact public financing of campaigns!

    I assume that the nameless individual behind this commentary doesn’t fancy the idea of public campaign financing, hence the exclamation point. However, the following should be noted in response (here, from January)…

    WASHINGTON (AP) — About 40 current and former corporate executives have a message for Congress: Quit hitting us up for campaign cash.

    In a letter to Congressional leaders on Friday, the executives urged Congress to approve public financing for House and Senate campaigns. They sent the letter a day after the Supreme Court struck down limits on corporate spending in elections.

    “Members of Congress already spend too much time raising money from large contributors,” the letter said. “And often, many of us individually are on the receiving end of solicitation phone calls from members of Congress. With additional money flowing into the system due to the court’s decision, the fund-raising pressure on members of Congress will only increase.”

    The companies represented by the executives who signed the letter include Playboy Enterprises, the ice cream maker Ben & Jerry’s, the Seagram’s liquor company, the toymaker Hasbro, Delta Airlines, Men’s Wearhouse, the Quaker Chemical Corporation, the Brita Products Company, San Diego National Bank, MetLife and Crate and Barrel.

    They sent the letter through Fair Elections Now, a coalition of good-government groups that has long lobbied Congress to pass legislation establishing public campaign financing.

    This also takes you to a site where you can learn more about public campaign financing, including an interactive map to find out what your state has done on this important issue.

    You want to get rid of the Michele Bachmanns, Jim Inhofes, Steve Kings and Louie Gohmerts out there, people? Limit the election cycle to 30 days, keep the corporate money out of it (tough, because a lot of people make a lot of dough out of this stuff, including the broadcast networks), and force these people to run on their accomplishments, or lack thereof (my grand and glorious plan also depends on an informed electorate, though, I realize).

    And if you think they look silly now…

  • 3) Finally, we recently observed the 15th anniversary of the Oklahoma City Bombing, but we’re also a week beyond the third anniversary of the Virginia Tech shootings. And with that in mind, I give you the following USA Today story from last December…

    Administrative buildings began shutting down nearly 90 minutes before the first campuswide alert about the April 2007 shootings that eventually left 32 students and teachers dead.

    According to the report, two unidentified university officials notified their own family members of the first shootings more than an hour before the first alert was issued at 9:26 a.m., April 16.

    Campus trash collection was even canceled 21 minutes before students and teachers were warned.

    One of the two officials also alerted a colleague in Richmond more than 30 minutes before the campuswide alert but cautioned the colleague “to make sure (the information) doesn’t get out” because the university had not made an official announcement.

    The first warning came more than two hours after the first shootings and 14 minutes before Seung Hui Cho continued the rampage in a classroom building where some students were shot at their desks in the most deadly campus shooting in U.S. history.

    “What happened at Virginia Tech is by its very nature inexplicable, and we may never fully understand the tragic events that transpired that terrible day,” (former Governor Tim) Kaine said in a written statement Friday. “However, the Commonwealth has remained committed to providing as accurate a factual narrative as possible.”

    After reading this account, I have a question; why isn’t a grand jury looking into this (I’ve looked around and found no news story on that)?

    Why was campus trash collection, for example, halted before the entire campus was notified that a shooter was on the premises (allegedly)?

    Oh, I forgot – Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli is too busy suing over health care reform as part of burnishing his conservative bona fides (as noted here) to do the job he was tasked to do by Governor Bob McDonnell (who isn’t far behind him in the winguttery brigade).

    I have no doubt that Virginia Tech is, among other things, a wonderful community of individuals of all kinds of ethnicities, life experiences and skills. And it is a tribute to the talent and resiliency of the school’s students, faculty and other personnel that it has come back from one of the darkest experiences surely that any institution of learning could imagine.

    And that makes it even more of an almost unspeakable travesty that the shootings that very nearly tore it apart have not been investigated as fully as possible as part of every effort to ensure they never occur again.

  • Update 5/25/10: More bang-‘em-up pro-gun antics from McDonnell – somehow, I’m sure he knew what he was doing by allowing the name of the non-existent group here.


    Friday Mashup

    January 22, 2010

    (Note: I’m probably a couple of weeks away at least from posting again the way I have in the past due to my arm injury. I’ll be sure to let you know what’s going on.)

  • 1) Over at The Hill, Repug Congressman Mike Pence of Indiana recently said the following (here, in yet another attack on the Obama Administration)…

    First out of the gate was the $787 billion so-called stimulus bill that was nothing more than a wish-list of liberal spending priorities. Following the policies of more spending and more debt — the same policies that got us into this mess — would not get our economy moving again.

    Meanwhile, this tells us the following (from Crooks and Liars)…

    Rep. Mike Pence disagrees with the stimulus and voted against it but wants more of it for his state. “The Democrats in Congress and the administration said we were going to have to borrow nearly a trillion dollars from future generations and spend it on this — this long laundry list of liberal spending priorities we called stimulus and that unless we did that, unemployment would reach 8% nationally. It’s 9.5% nationally today,” Pence told Fox News’ Chris Wallace.

    But Pence charges that Indiana isn’t getting enough money from the very program that he doesn’t support. “You check the Indiana Star, you’ll see stories about the stimulus. One is that four out of ten major projects in the stimulus for Indiana had been allotted to companies outside the state of Indiana,” complained Pence.

    So which is it, Pence? Do you support the “stim” or don’t you? If you don’t, then why are you trying to grab up the dough?

    Oh, and by the way, as Think Progress notes here, Pence was one of the Repugs who was just thrilled over yesterday’s horrific Supreme Court ruling allowing unlimited free speech for corporations, among other entities (no word on what Pence’s reaction would be if another Giganticorp, Inc. came along and decided to fund a Pence election opponent as much as they wanted, which is now allowed of course).

    So what other economic ideas has Pence supported as long as he opposes Obama and the “Democrat majority” (jerk)? Why, as noted here, he supports a spending freeze, which, as TP (again) tells us, “would allow inflation to eat away at funding for vital programs, including Pell Grants, Head Start and infrastructure investments. It would mean less money, in real terms, for just about everything. There are also projects — like the 2010 census – that need a spending boost.”

    The game of Pence and his Repug playmates is to do nothing and hope that voters forget that our current economic mess, to say nothing of two wars, originated under the administration of Obama’s predecessor. And that worked in Massachusetts because the Democratic Party leadership was utterly asleep and thought they would win a ceremonial victory.

    But Messrs. Kaine, Menendez and the rest of the Dems should have learned from that debacle that everything is in play for November. However, the Repugs will have to play the same game of defending their seats as the Dems.

    Being a Dem in this climate has disadvantages, as does being a Repug. But being an incumbent, period, is the biggest disadvantage of all.

  • 2) Today’s Bucks County Courier Times tells us the following (here)…

    A 12.5 percent salary increase to the Bucks County employee in charge of overseeing the $100 million courthouse project led to a heated disagreement among county commissioners.

    Diane Marseglia, the lone Democrat on the three-member panel, criticized the decision of her colleagues, Republicans Charley Martin and Jim Cawley, to raise the salary of Director of Operations Jerry Anderson to $104,456.

    “It’s too much money,” Marseglia said Wednesday of the $11,575 bump in pay from $92,881. “Nobody gets an increase like that, especially in this economy.”

    Martin defended the pay hike, saying the “fairly substantial amount is appropriate.”

    Anderson is in charge of all county bridges, buildings and the parks and recreation department, in addition to spearheading work on the new courthouse, according to Chris Edwards of the county public information office.

    He also headed up building the $22 million parking garage on Broad Street.

    Compensation for non-union county personnel is set by the salary board. Martin said Anderson’s raise fit within that range.

    Hired Dec. 26, 2006 as special projects manager in the public works department for $55,344, Anderson became the director of operations on Sept. 17, 2008 at a salary of $85,000. Since then, his annual pay has jumped nearly $20,000, or 23 percent, including a 3 percent cost of living adjustment on Jan. 1.

    Another “triumph” for Jim Cawley and Charley (“I Have A Semi-Open Mind”) Martin (no comment from Jay Russell, the “independent” candidate in the last Bucks County commissioners election who ensured that we would be saddled once more with Martin and a Repug majority).

  • Update 1/24/10: The Courier Times points out here today that Anderson basically contributed $4,400 to “Republican causes” and was rewarded with about a $50,000 raise as a result. And Republicans dare to scream about alleged Democratic Party fiscal malfeasance.

  • 3) Finally, this letter in the Courier Times yesterday stated as follows…

    Newtown Township Supervisor Rob Ciervo recently announced he will run for the 31st Assembly District seat now held by state Rep. Steve Santarsiero.

    Ciervo was elected supervisor in 2007 to a six-year term and assumed the role of chairman this summer, after former Supervisor Tom Jirele’s sudden resignation. As a resident of Newtown Township, I feel that Mr. Ciervo should fulfill his commitment to the residents of Newtown Township who elected him to the board of supervisors.

    If these local politicians can’t commit themselves for six years, they shouldn’t run for the position in the first place. Perhaps Mr. Ciervo wishes to leave the NTBOS before local residents catch on to the fact that constant dipping into reserve funds is a temporary fix and only postpones the inevitable tax increases facing Newtown Township.

    Steve Santarsiero has been in office less than one year. Honestly, that is not enough time to truly gauge the job of a state representative. However, in that time, Steve helped balance the state’s budget and actually decreased overall spending by $500 million. Let’s keep Steve Santarsiero working for us and let self-serving politicians finish the jobs they started.

    Edward H. Valenti
    Newtown, PA

    To contact Steve, click here.


  • A Bucks Countian’s Response To Dave Sanko’s Sendoff

    October 28, 2009

    sanko
    Now-departing Bucks County Chief Operating Officer David Sanko wrote the following Guest Opinion in the Courier Times yesterday…

    For the last five years, it has been my privilege to serve the residents of Bucks County as chief operating officer. During that time, your county government has made tremendous strides – fiscally, physically and in the constantly evolving realm of service provision. At a time when governments around our nation are seeing budgets stretched thin or turned to ribbons of red ink, Bucks County is uniquely positioned to handle the current economic climate. The reason for this is two words: fiscal responsibility.

    For three years in a row, the board of commissioners held the line on county property taxes – the first time since 1994-96!

    I’m not sure why Sanko is praising the commissioners here, but it should be noted that (according to here), property taxes in Bucks have gone up 46 percent since 2001, so I think the whole “three-year” thing should be taken with a grain of salt, to say the least.

    Back to Sanko…

    Further, under the expert guidance of Finance Director Brian Hessenthaler, the last five years have produced a steady growth in the county’s general fund, also known as the “rainy day” fund. From a 2005 total of $9 million, we increased that rainy day fund to the current figure of $73 million. This allowed us to earn a record setting high S&P bond rating, and saves us money as we borrow in the future for open space and the new Justice Center.

    In response, I’d like to point out (from here) that every time our august Bucks County Commissioners want to designate property for open space, they issue a bond as opposed to drawing up a regional plan in coordination with other Bucks municipalities, which is bound to be cheaper; as former commissioner candidate (and now PA House Rep for District 31) Steve Santarsiero noted, “the county doesn’t have enough money to (issue a bond) for every piece of property that needs (an open space) designation.”

    Back to Sanko…

    How has this growth been achieved? In addition to prudent spending, we’ve refinanced multiple bond issues, hired a county grants coordinator (producing more than $2 million in grant awards), convened a BEST (Bucks Employees Saving Taxes) Committee that replicates sound business practices, asked our management team to make difficult but wise choices regarding their departmental budgets, and improved efficiencies by hiring an asset manager.

    Oh, and speaking of hiring employees, it should be noted that Sanko, along with Bucks County commissioners Jim Cawley and Charley “I Have A Semi-Open Mind” Martin, “(hired) two employees without publicly advertising those open positions or interviewing anyone other than those who got the nod for the jobs,” as the Courier Times tells us here (one position was a $30,992-a-year job as an administrative assistant for the public information office, and the other was a $19-an-hour position for a legal secretary – the whole matter was aptly summed up by the other commissioner, Dem Diane Marseglia, as “policy as usual”).

    And speaking of cronyism in hiring, Martin said here that he wanted to replace Sanko with “a political operative” (the beat goes on).

    Also, I would like to enter the following “into the record,” as it were, as long as Sanko is telling us how wonderful he is:

  • Sanko dismissed Patrick Murphy’s call here for a paper ballot backup to a vote as an “unfunded mandate” (makes too much sense, I guess).
  • He had the lock changed on the County Commissioner’s office because Diane Marseglia gave a reporter the combination to the office suite, as noted here (drat that “good government” impulse!).
  • Cawley said Diane owed Sanko an apology because Sanko had failed to provide information Diane had requested, namely, the written justifications by county employees for vehicles on our dime (here – typical).
  • County Board of Elections Director Deena Dean accused Sanko of “two years of harassment” here.
  • Sanko participated in a GOP fundraiser here, which he considered “no big deal,” even though he did so as a government employee (typical for a Bucks County Repug).
  • I will acknowledge Sanko’s successes in his position, which he notes in his farewell. While he deserves credit, I would be happy if his replacement achieved a similar measure of success without the execrable wreak of political partisanship that Sanko managed to turn into a job requirement.


    Cawley’s “Can’t Do” Spirit On The Stimulus

    March 24, 2009

    elephant2
    I want to thank Bucks County Courier Times letter writer Paul Lang, Jr. this morning for jogging my memory a bit on a recent quote from one of our illustrious county commissioners (sarcasm intended) – here is his letter…

    Regarding county Commissioner Jim Cawley’s quote, “I am far from somebody who is rooting for the (Democratic) economic stimulus package”: This comment is un-American and outrageous. I am an American first and want only the best for this country regardless of political party affiliation.

    As a registered Democrat, I voted for Barack Obama. If Cawley’s Republican choice, John McCain, had won the presidency, then I would be cheering and praying for McCain to succeed.

    Cawley should never be elected to any office anywhere again. He has shown his true un-American colors.

    Paul Lang Jr.
    Northampton

    And of course, that met with the predictable wingnut comment noise online, which Lang should wear as a badge of honor, actually.

    I believe the reason why I missed this is because the original quote from Cawley appeared in this column by J.D. Mullane about the current dilapidated state of Washington Crossing Park. And Cawley is entitled to his opinion, I realize, but in his capacity as a commissioner, I think his comments should be neutral at the very least, particularly given the fact that the Repugs are so tolerant of opinions which differ from their own, as we know.

    Well, for Cawley’s information, here is a link to an analysis from The Philadelphia Inquirer showing that Bucks County stands to receive millions in school district funding from the stimulus, as well as $600 million from the $48.1 billion in transportation stimulus funds for Greater Philadelphia (affecting many Bucks residents), as well as approximately $318 for highways in southeastern Pennsylvania, $120 million for highways in southern New Jersey, and $193 million for SEPTA (noted here).

    And as noted from here, the stimulus provides funding to…

  • (Protect) 972,000 Pennsylvanians from the Alternative Minimum Tax.
  • (Match) unemployed individuals to job openings through state employment service agencies and allow Pennsylvania to provide customized reemployment services ($15.4 million).
  • (Extend) Bonus Depreciation and Small Business Expensing through 2009, allowing businesses that make capital investments to immediately deduct one-half the cost. Small businesses can immediately deduct 100 percent of the cost of these investments.
  • (Help) law enforcement agencies enhance their investigative response to offenders who use the Internet or other computer technology to sexually exploit children ($1 million).
  • (Improve) the response to violent crimes against women and to assist victims of domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking ($6.4 million).
  • But of course, Cawley is “far from somebody who is rooting for the (Democratic) economic stimulus package.”

    This is typical for someone who, as noted here, refused to fund an Army Corps of Engineers study of the Delaware River, to the point where Patrick Murphy had to intervene or else Bucks would have lost out on critical federal funds for this project.

    And as noted here, Cawley told a group of people gathered in Bristol, Pa. that “county money pegged for a three-hole golf course and driving range can be spent only for recreational purposes” (just what Bucks needs – another golf course), even though the majority of the residents favor a skate park, but with a chunk of the $400,000 going to keep the struggling Bristol Township homeless shelter open (also favored by Bucks commissioner Diane Marseglia, with the third commissioner, Charley Martin, stating that he believes skateboarding is “a fad” – here’s some reading material on this for Mr. “I Have A Semi-Open Mind”).

    Finally, this tells us that the Bucks County Coalition for Voting Integrity was denied access to records on the purchase of new county voting machines, as well as the fact that the Bucks County Health Department refused to turn over records of its pool inspections to the Doylestown Intelligencer, which attempted to publish an investigatory report on the safety of Bucks County swimming pools some years ago.

    So of course Cawley has to oppose the stimulus because of what it could provide to families and the working middle class of this county; also consider the fact that Cawley’s playmate Charley Martin would never have been returned to office were it not for the intercession of clueless third party candidate Jay Russell working on behalf of the Repugs, as noted here – it’s clear that their grip on county government is slipping anyway.

    And if the stimulus succeeds, making it plainly obvious which political party wants to ensure prosperity in Bucks and the rest of this country and which one doesn’t, they’ll lose that grip once and for all.


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