Thursday Mashup (7/17/14)

July 17, 2014
  • As the family and I were about to embark on our vacation (more later on that), I found out that Richard Mellon Scaife had died.

    For the uninitiated (maybe one or two of you out there), I should point out that Scaife founded The Arkansas Project. As noted from here

    The Arkansas Project was created and funded with the sole objective of digging up, and if necessary fabricating, any information that could be used to defame the Clintons and those around them. Over the course of several years, Scaife allocated approximately 2.4 million dollars to the [American] Spectator for sole use in its “investigative” efforts to defame and humiliate Clinton… efforts which resulted in the “revelation” (“fabrication” is perhaps more accurate in most cases) of tabloidesque stories such as the “Troopergate” and Whitewater scandals, Paula Jones’ allegations of sexual harassment, and the legitimization and continuation of conspiracy theories about the death of Deputy White House Counsel and close Clinton friend Vince Foster, among others…

    The “investigative” efforts of those involved in the Arkansas Project eventually led, albeit indirectly, to Clinton’s impeachment in the Monica Lewinsky scandal…

    Over the next thirty years, Scaife alone would contribute $200 million to conservative causes (“The Right’s Big Moneyman”). This growth and expansion of conservative journalism and conservative think tanks, which together formed a cohesive social and political movement, continued throughout the 1970s and ‘80s, bolstered by the Presidency of Ronald Reagan.

    Indeed – as noted from here

    Scaife’s money has established or supported “activist think tanks that have created and marketed conservative ideas from welfare reform to enhanced missile defense; public interest law firms that have won important court cases on affirmative action, property rights and how to conduct the national census; organizations and publications that have nurtured conservatism on American campuses; academic institutions that have employed and promoted the work of conservative intellectuals; watchdog groups that have critiqued and harassed media organizations, and many more.”

    By the way, as the first Daily Kos post points out (the one where Scaife announces his illness and, yet again, creates an opportunity to smear his targets – “oh, woe is me – oppressed by liberals again even though I’m gravely ill”), Scaife’s political donations actually extended back to the Nixon Administration, and Newt Gingrich credited Scaife’s involvement in GOPAC as the main reason for Gingrich’s political ascendancy.

    Ritchie-and-Richard-Mellon-Scaife
    More on Scaife’s family history (basically, the story of how he accumulated his financial largesse) is here. Also, this tells us some of the seamy details of Scaife’s divorce; normally I would leave stuff like that alone, but as long as he punished the Clintons over personal details that, as far as I’m concerned, we never needed to know, I don’t know why Scaife shouldn’t receive the same treatment.

    Before there was Fix Noise and the plethora of conservative web sites out there (to say nothing of right-wing talk radio), there was Richard Mellon Scaife, along with the Birchers, the Klan, John Podhoretz and Commentary Magazine, and of course William F. Buckley and the National Review, along with Paul Weyrich (and I suppose I’m forgetting other infamous right-wing notables). Scaife did his very best to maintain the conservative outrage machine that, once marginalized, now permeates what passes for our political dialogue, enforcing its narratives over just about every policy discussion that takes place affecting this country; the entirely predictable outcome is that we never seem to be able to resolve a critical problem of any type whatsoever (this book documents Scaife’s attacks on the Clintons better than I ever could).

    I don’t know the disposition of Scaife’s remains. However, if he received a burial, then I think the resulting toxicity of the location would necessitate that it be designated as a Superfund cleanup site.

  • Next, I give you the latest from the utterly cretinous Mark Meadows, U.S. House Repug from North Carolina, here

    It was only a matter of time before the new unity government between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, a designated terrorist organization, proved to be a deadly agreement for both Palestinians and Israelis.

    I saw the writing on the wall as soon as the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) chose to embrace the terrorist group, effectively ending hopes of a peace agreement between the PLO and Israel.

    Really? Then I wonder why Meadows didn’t have anything to say (nothing I could track down anyway) when President Obama’s wretched predecessor did the same thing here?

    Oh, you dumb libtard, I hear some of you cry…yeah, GWB supported the unity government, but he withheld funding for the PLO.

    OK, all well and good. But riddle me this – name for me one president who has had to deal with this type of nonsense from a U.S. Congress related to funding in that area of the world (here)…

    The House Appropriations Committee (recently) approved a 2015 foreign operations bill that bars aid to the Palestinian Authority (PA) from some $440 million in proposed funding.

    The Senate’s version of its 2015 foreign operations bill, which includes similar language barring funding to the PA, was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on June 19.

    Unlike previous years, when the House banned funding for a government over which Hamas “exercises undue influence,” this year’s language targets any type of power-sharing government “that results from an agreement with Hamas.”

    It also imposes strict conditions under which Obama can waive the funding ban. According to language approved last week, Obama must not only certify that the new government recognizes Israel, renounces violence and commits to honor previous agreements, but that it acknowledges Israel as “a Jewish state.”

    Also…

    A much more restrictive bill, introduced in April by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., failed to attract sufficient support by Senate colleagues.

    Labeled the “Stand With Israel Act,” the bill aimed to rescind the president’s right to waive funding for any type of Palestinian unity government.

    Congressional action on the funding halt comes at a time of unprecedented coordination between the PA’s Fatah-commanded security force (PSF) and thousands of Israeli ground troops maneuvering through the West Bank in search of three victims of an alleged Hamas kidnapping.

    Israeli security officials have urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is fervently opposed to the Hamas-led government, to refrain from diplomatic or other action that could trigger collapse of ongoing coordination with the PSF.

    Similarly, supporters of Israel who champion a two-state peace deal between Israel and the PA warn that a precipitous halt in US funding will undermine PA President Mahmoud Abbas and ultimately harm Israeli security interests.

    “Funding for the PA’s security services is in Israel’s national security interests,” said Ori Nir, spokesman for the Washington-based Americans for Peace Now public policy organization.

    In a (sic) interview Wednesday, Nir warned that pulling the plug on US aid would harm Israel as much as the PA.

    “Israeli military commanders in the West Bank will tell you just how valuable their security coordination with the PA is. Many deaths of innocent Israelis have been avoided due to this coordination, as has the eruption of mass Palestinian violence,” said Nir, an Arabic-speaking former Israeli journalist who specialized in Palestinian affairs.

    He noted that Abbas has vehemently condemned the June 12 abduction and vowed to uphold security coordination with Israel, which he described as a “sacred” top priority for the new consensus government.

    And as I’m sure many of us know by now, the three Israelis abducted were found dead; it should not be necessary to point out what an indefensible criminal act that is.

    But returning to Washington, D.C. for a minute – according to that supposedly brilliant Republican Party intellectual Rand Paul (try not to laugh too hard), Obama is supposed to agree to an absurdist scheme like this that would limit his own presidential power and could possibly exacerbate an already bad situation, in an area of the world that knows almost nothing but bad situations anymore.

    I defy you to give me an example of a president who has ever had to deal with these types of restrictions from a U.S. Congress on a foreign policy issue.

    If the Repugs on Capitol Hill ever decide to get their act together in this conflict, then I have no problem with them deciding to withhold funding to the new “unity” government. But when that doesn’t turn out to be the quick fix that the wingnuts crave (on this or any issue), then don’t run kicking and screaming to sympathetic media about how that alleged Kenyan Muslim Socialist on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue hates anything having to do with the state of Israel (which, let’s not forget, awarded Obama this – and to read about more lowlights with Meadows, click here).

  • Further, I give you the following from The Daily Tucker (here)…

    The president of a Washington state company cited as an example of the Export-Import Bank’s usefulness came out against its re-authorization Tuesday.

    Edmund Schweitzer III, founder and president of Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, expressed this opinion in a letter to the editor of the Spokesman-Review.

    “Some Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories customers have used the Ex-Im Bank for financing, at their choosing. SEL does not depend on it, nor encourage it,” he writes. “If the Ex-Im Bank were to disappear, I believe buyers and sellers would find attractive commercial options unencumbered by politics and special interests.”

    I don’t know anything about how businesses operate in Washington State, but when it comes to reauthorizing the export-import bank, Kevin Strouse, Dem candidate for the PA-08 U.S. House seat currently held by Mikey the Beloved, had this to say…

    Bristol, PA — (On 7/10/14) (Strouse), former Army Ranger and Democratic candidate for Congress in Pennsylvania’s 8th District, called on Congressman Fitzpatrick to sign on to a bipartisan letter urging Speaker of the House John Boehner and Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy to bring export-import bank reauthorization to the floor for a vote.

    This letter, supported by the Chamber of Commerce, urges House Leadership to reauthorize the federally backed export-import bank, which was founded in 1934 to help American businesses finance foreign sales. The bank has a long history of bipartisan support as a common sense tool for supporting American business and creating jobs. If Congress fails to act by September 30th, the bank’s charter will expire.

    Kevin Strouse remarked that reauthorizing the bank is a common sense solution for economic growth in the 8th District. “Congressman Fitzpatrick and his Tea Party allies have created such a culture of dysfunction in Washington that they won’t even allow their Republican Congress to pass a historically bipartisan, pro-business measure. We need new leaders in Washington who can put an end to this senseless dysfunction and work towards common sense solutions to help spur economic opportunity and create jobs for the middle class,” said Strouse.

    Strouse continued, “There are 23 businesses in the 8th District directly impacted by this issue–failure to immediately act to reauthorize the export-import bank would be only the latest example of Congressman Fitzpatrick and this Republican Congress allowing their self-interested dysfunction to hurt Pennsylvania’s economy and jobs…”

    Sounds like common sense to me, as opposed to the idiocy routinely inflicted by Mikey and his pals in Congress (to help Kevin, click here).

  • Continuing (and staying with PA politics on the state level this time), I came across this item from the Philadelphia Inquirer…

    High-powered Democrats have asked political novice Steve Cickay to withdraw from what is viewed as a pivotal Bucks County state Senate race, according to sources familiar with the discussions, and give way to Shaughnessy Naughton – who lost in the May primary in her bid for a congressional seat.

    Leading party operatives, including former Gov. Ed Rendell and State Sen. Vincent Hughes (D., Philadelphia), believe Naughton’s name recognition and her ability to appeal to female voters make her a stronger candidate to take on two-term incumbent Chuck McIlhinney, the sources said.

    Naughton, 35, also could use whatever leftover campaign funds she stockpiled during her congressional run for a state Senate bid, two election-law experts said, potentially giving her more resources to challenge McIlhinney than Cickay, who has struggled with fund-raising.

    The race could be crucial for state Democrats, who are eager to wrangle control of the Senate from Republicans but have a limited number of winnable seats statewide, political experts say.

    So far, Cickay, 59, has shown little desire to leave the race, saying he’s gotten a positive response while campaigning.

    “I start something, I finish it,” he said in an interview. “I feel an obligation to these people that voted for me. . . . I feel I owe it to them to finish.”

    (Before I comment on the substance of this story, I’d like to point out something to the supposed “webmaster” at philly.com. I saw this story in the hardcopy edition of the paper, and I tried multiple search combinations using keywords from this article, both at Google’s main page and also at the philly.com site, and the only way I managed to come across the link to the story was from another post by a local aggregator. Basically, I don’t know how philly.com’s search algorithms are constructed, but in my admittedly imperfect opinion, I would say that they need work.)

    OK, now to the story…I didn’t include the excerpt above pointing out that Shaughnessy Naughton reported about $158,000 in cash on hand as of April 30th from her recent PA-08 primary contest won by Kevin Strouse. I also didn’t note that Cickay had only $1,717 in cash on hand as of June 9, according to campaign records, compared with more than $150,000 for McIlhinney.

    So yeah, it’s entirely possible that, if Cickay stays in the race and keeps Naughton out, he could get completely wiped out by McIlhinney in the general election (and Ed Rendell supported Naughton in the PA-08 Dem primary a little while ago, just for the record).

    But while I begrudge nothing to Naughton, who has the right to seek any elective office she chooses, I want to say something in defense of Steve Cickay.

    I realize the Inquirer isn’t in the business of giving a plug to another newspaper, one that is a rival in a portion of its coverage area, so I don’t expect them to note how prominent a voice Cickay is on the Op-Ed page of the Bucks County Courier Times. In the midst of the interminable flotsam of wingnuttery that frequents that section, Cickay is a tireless voice on behalf of the environment, the middle class, and the economy overall, as well as women, LGBT individuals, the poor, the sick, and the elderly; Steve’s commentary is a welcome reprieve from the avalanche of duuuh! that all too often fills up editorial column space in that paper. And you know his words carry an impact based on the parade of mischaracterizations and insults from the great unwashed in response to his thoughtful commentary.

    As much as I don’t like the Repugs, sometimes I honestly think they’ve learned the lesson that all politics are ultimately local, as opposed to the Democrats on occasions such as this one. And I’m sure Naughton could put up a real scrap against McIlhinney, but Steve Cickay has been doing that all along, and I think it’s wrong to just tell him to go away because of paltry funding numbers.

    If you’re so inclined to help Steve as much as your means allows (an uphill fight to be sure), please click here.

  • Finally, I just want to take a minute and report that your humble narrator and the family spent last week at Martha’s Vineyard (we were sent there to scout locations for the Obamas – joke). The weather was perfect, and it was a welcome respite that we all needed. We were able to frequent the Net Result for lobsters at Vineyard Haven, the Art Cliff Diner (same location) as well as Nancy’s and Coup de Ville in Oak Bluffs; we also took jaunts to Menemsha, Edgartown, and Chillmark. We were saddened a bit to hear about the beach erosion at Squibnocket and the encroachment upon the shoreline at Aquinnah, which has put the light house in jeopardy (if you can help with the effort to save it, click here…I should note that Aquinnah is the Wampanoag Indian geographic reference for Gay Head – the Wampanoags settled there long ago; you can come up with your own scatological references if you wish).

    And to answer your question, no, I’m definitely not rich. It just made sense for us to spend the money we would probably have spent on a Jersey shore rental on a location we already know, and one that is surrounded by water and everything else we were looking for in the way of a summer break (also, speaking of the Vineyard, we recently observed the 15th anniversary of the tragic plane crash in that area that took the life of John Kennedy, Jr., his wife and her sister).

    The reason why I’m telling you this is because, in addition to the connector bridge from 95 to 195 East outside of Providence, RI (when we last made the trip in ’08, that area was nothing but construction full of closed lanes and cattle chutes – now, the transition from 95 onto the bridge and 195 is effortless), there was something else we noticed during our travels that was new.

    wind_turbine
    And that was these things that dotted the landscape across Connecticut, Rhode Island and Massachusetts, including the Vineyard. And they actually aren’t eyesores.

    As noted here, Connecticut has committed to 23 percent of its total energy portfolio from renewable sources (including wind) by 2020. Also, this tells us that Rhode Island and Massachusetts are “on the leading edge of offshore wind energy development.”

    I’ll admit that I’m a bit torn on this issue, because I don’t support the so-called Cape Wind project to install 133 wind turbines in the middle of Nantucket Sound (more here). Yes, I get it that that’s the highest concentration of wind in the area, but I honestly think more work needs to be done to estimate what would be a cataclysmic impact to the Sound’s ecosystem.

    I wondered, though, what would possibly be a driving force behind the embrace of wind power in those three states (although, technically, Massachusetts is a commonwealth, similar to PA in that regard). And it occurred to me that all three are run by Democratic governors: Dannel Malloy in Connecticut, Lincoln Chaffee in Rhode Island, and Deval Patrick in Massachusetts.

    So just remember, people – if you want renewable energy, vote for Democrats, gubernatorial candidates in particular (including this guy).

    One final comment about the trip; this isn’t meant as a knock on any public radio station in our area, but absolutely none of them compare with WMVY, which has a terrific song mix (I could count on one hand the songs I head multiple times during the week) and engaging personalities; hell, I could even tolerate the commercials. It was truly a pleasure to listen to the station during the week, just as it was six years ago, particularly since they were off the air for a time but managed to return unbroken, as it were, as noted here. Well done!


  • Saturday Mashup (5/18/13)

    May 18, 2013
  • Somebody named Michael Tanner at NRO said here recently that the young will have to subsidize the old and sick on health care reform, or something (with a typically understated right-wing headline, of course)…

    Moreover, (the national) debt might be a bit hard to pay off, since young people are having a very tough time finding a job in Obama’s economy. Overall unemployment in this country may finally be improving — albeit slowly — but unemployment among those under age 30 hovers around 13 percent, nearly twice as high as for the population at large. This is particularly damaging since research shows that workers who are unemployed as young adults lose valuable work experience and opportunities to develop skills. As a result, youth unemployment can lead to lower wages for many years even if young people do find a job. And many young people who are working are in low-paying jobs or jobs unrelated to their college degree.

    To summarize, then, according to Tanner:

  • The debt is making it harder to find jobs (uh, no).
  • Since young people cannot find work, it’s creating an “underclass” of unemployed (yes, but not for the reason Tanner is willing to admit – more here).
  • This is leading to lower wages (see above).
  • It’s almost funny to read this from Tanner without acknowledging the following, as noted here

    A revolution may be on the way for the under-30 set: Thanks to the provisions put in place under the new health care law, the days of needing a job just to get affordable health insurance may be over.

    The shift in how Americans can get health insurance, in some ways a little noticed effect of the sweeping 2010 law that will be in full force by 2014, could be particularly radical for young adults. They are uninsured at higher rates than any other age group and face a job market less likely to provide health benefits than the one their older siblings and parents entered in their 20s.

    “If you want a career that doesn’t tend to be associated with companies that provide health insurance coverage, you’ll have more options,” said Sara Collins, the vice president for affordable health insurance at the Commonwealth Fund. “It frees people’s work-life decisions.”

    The model of employer-based health care arose from the days after World War II when there was a huge quantity of good-paying jobs to be filled, but a comparatively small domestic labor pool, and employers believed they had to provide health care through work to attract good employees. Does anyone seriously think those days will ever return? Also, this tells us that naysaying about premiums going up for the young are “overblown” because of cost-control mechanisms built into the law.

    Continuing from Tanner…

    Even HHS secretary Kathleen Sebelius admits that “some of the older customers may see a slight decline, and some of the younger ones are going to see a slight increase.” Or, not so slight. According to a survey by the American Action Forum, healthy young people in the individual or small-group insurance markets can look forward to rate increases averaging 169 percent.

    By the way, I should note that the American Action Forum (hmmm, smell the AstroTurf, people!) was founded by former John McCain confidant Douglas Holtz-Eakin, along with former Repug U.S. Senator Norm Coleman (remember how long the recount lasted in the election where he lost to Al Franken?) and former Nixonite Fred Malek, among other Repug “heavy hitters.”

    For the record, here is some more realistic information on likely premium increases under health care reform (and as noted here, Tanner is no stranger to propagandizing on this subject).

  • Next, it’s time for the latest pearls of wisdom from Pulitzer Prize-winning (ugh) columnist Bret Stephens of the Murdoch Street Journal (here).

    In wording that I cannot obtain now verbatim because this latest dreck from Stephens went behind Rupert’s pay wall (heh) faster than I could retrieve all of it, Stephens blames Obama for the deterioration of the Congo. As noted here, though, you can just add that to the massive legacy of problems that Former President Highest Disapproval Rating In Gallup Poll History handed off to Number 44 (and I honestly don’t recall EVER seeing a corporate media compendium of the whole sorry list of “parking lot” items that Former President Nutball swept under the proverbial rug…if roles had been reversed, we’d be hearing about them forever).

    Continuing (I managed to get a couple of excerpts anyway)…

    Yet barring fresh blockbuster revelations the scandal will go nowhere, because so many Americans are as eager as the White House spokesman to forget it ever happened.

    WAAAAHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!! BENGHAZI BENGHAZI BENGHAZI BENGHAZI BENGHAZI!!!!!

    Oh, boo-f*cking-hoo, Bret. Sorry that the “99 percent” rabble is blowing off another Repug media circus (and you along with it, I guess) and concentrating on “dumb” stuff instead like our economy, our environment including our planet that continues to melt, national security issues for real, etc.

    Nope, it didn’t work for Stephens, and I don’t think it’s going to work for anyone else either (here).

    Continuing…

    America alone, it seems, suffers the opposite affliction: We remember little, and we remember it poorly. “Does America Need a Foreign Policy?” The question seems odd only because not many people besides Henry Kissinger, nearly 90, can recall that the U.S. has attempted to do without one before—and recall also how the previous attempt ended in September of 1939.

    That’s actually kind of an unintentionally hilarious comment when you consider that FDR was doing his best to help Winston Churchill and Great Britain, but his hands were tied by neutrality laws passed by Republicans and southern-state Democrats in Congress (Roosevelt signed them reluctantly because he needed the support of these people for his domestic agenda, though he did manage to aid Great Britain before December 7, 1941).

    And besides, based on this fairly scholarly takedown of Stephens, it looks like the august Journal pundit misinterpreted Kissinger anyway; though Nixon’s foreign policy guru was one of the most notorious liars in history as far as I’m concerned, he at least knew the limits of American hegemony, something that utterly escapes a triumphalist wingnut like Stephens.

  • Further, did you know that Dem U.S. House Rep Allyson Schwartz would be just an awful candidate to run against PA Governor Tom “Space Cadet” Corbett because ABORTION ABORTION ABORTION ABORTION ABORTION ABORTION ABORTION ABORTION!!!!! (here)…

    For over a decade, Schwartz was the executive director of an abortion clinic in Philadelphia, the Elizabeth Blackwell Women’s Health Center. Under her direction, the clinic — which is now run by Planned Parenthood — provided first-trimester abortions, as evidenced by a lawsuit it was a party to in 1995.

    This matters because the governor of Pennsylvania has the power to enforce — or not enforce — abortion regulations. One of Corbett’s predecessors, the pro-choice Republican Tom Ridge, didn’t enforce laws mandating abortion clinic inspections. That’s part of the reason Philadelphia abortionist Kermit Gosnell was able to get away with killing as many as several hundred babies that had survived late-term abortions. (This week, Gosnell was convicted of murdering three newborn infants. He was also convicted of involuntary manslaughter of one patient.) Inspections would have stopped Gosnell and his staff in their tracks, but the facility avoided inspection for 17 years!

    This is the real “war on women.”

    Fortunately, Governor Corbett signed into law abortion clinic regulations in the wake of the grand jury report on Gosnell’s crimes.

    Um, there’s just a teensy weensy bit of an omission here, and that is the fact that the horrors of Gosnell’s clinic were discovered when former PA Governor Ed Rendell, a Democrat, quite rightly decided to enforce abortion clinic inspections once more in 2010, as noted here.

    In response, I thought this was a pretty detailed post on Congresswoman Schwartz, and what she brings to the table against Corbett. And given the fact that Admiral Joe Sestak has said that he’ll start gearing up for a rematch with Pat Toomey here (which will be a bit more daunting with Toomey’s commendable recent actions on guns, even though he’s utterly awful on everything else – and that “poison pill” in Toomey-Manchin on a federal gun registry is utterly ridiculous)…well, we’ll see if that ends up clearing more of a path for Schwartz to the nomination.

    So who is it in The Daily Tucker who is primarily criticizing Schwartz anyway? “Pro-life” activists Marjorie Dannenfelser and Mike Geer, that’s who.

    I can’t find much on Geer, but as noted here, this tells us that Dannenfelser claimed “victory” on a supposed social issues truce within the Repug Party (meaning, I guess among other things, that her brethren can now go back to caterwauling about “values” pabulum for the other lemmings under the Repug “brand” – this development apparently had something to do with Indiana Repug Governor and former Bushie Mitch Daniels deciding not to run for president in 2012, though Daniels is definitely not a moderate by any means).

    And like a good little wingnut, Dannenfelser twisted herself in metaphorical knots trying to defend the odious Blunt Amendment here (sponsored by the guy responsible for this) in which the Missouri Repug U.S. Senator tried to “grant employers significant discretion in deciding what kind of health care they want to provide workers” (translated, that means employers could refuse to provide coverage for anything whatsoever to do with those dreaded, icky lady parts). And on top of that, Dannenfelser claimed here that Planned Parenthood made $300 million in “profit,” which, in a lucid moment for them, was properly debunked by Politifact (not the same thing as excess revenue over expenses, as pointed out by people who actually know what they’re talking about).

    I realize that I didn’t point out earlier that it is sickeningly disingenuous for The Daily Tucker to try and conflate anything Allyson Schwartz did while running the Elizabeth Blackwell Women’s Health Center with Kermit Gosnell’s chamber of horrors. So please allow me to do so now.

  • Also, it looks like our wet noodle PA-08 rep has been getting a lot of “love” lately from the No Labels crowd, with recent hosannas from the Bucks County Courier Times as well as this item from philly.com…

    Too often, people focus on our differences instead of what brings us together. Yet, despite what we all hear, common ground does exist among lawmakers from opposing parties.

    Although one of us is a Democrat and the other a Republican, we both believe that things can and should get done in Washington. Our constituents sent us to our nation’s capital not to position and posture, but to use common sense and compromise to move our country forward.

    This is why we joined the bipartisan group called No Labels, and are identified with the Problem Solvers caucus. We surely don’t agree on every issue, but we are united in the desire to put partisanship aside and find common ground. There are plenty of areas that we can find to achieve results for the people we represent.

    Oh, by the way, “moderate” Mikey votes with his U.S. House “leadership” about 79 percent of the time (gag me). And Mikey’s new “BFF” Cheri Bustos was rated the 182nd most progressive member of Congress (hmmm); both of those items among others are noted here.

    As far as I’m concerned, though, “No Labels” is another one of these fraud “centrist” groups trying to be bipartisan when, in fact, they’re pretty much bygone-centrist-era Republicans, if that. This tells us that one of their big ideas was “bipartisan seating arrangements” in Congress (really?), and this from Alex Pareene of Salon tells us that another one of their “big ideas” is “No Budget, No Pay” (Again, really? How about “No Passing President Obama’s American Jobs Act And Waging War On Public Sector Employees, To Say Nothing of Climate Change Denial, No Pay” instead? And sorry that’s too big and not catchy enough to fit on a bumper sticker.).

  • Finally (and keeping it local for Bucks County, Lower Makefield in particular), I have a feeling that this will be my last opportunity to comment on the primary election this Tuesday in which Deb Wachspress and Josh Waldorf are running for the Democratic Party nomination to compete in the general election this fall for the Pennsbury School Board. So it’s particularly important that folks in the Pennsbury School District go out and support Deb and Josh on Tuesday.

    Campbell_518c6b248a212_preview-300
    Because every vote for Deb and Josh is a vote against this guy.


  • Thursday Mashup (9/16/10)

    September 16, 2010

  • 1) This story has been buzzing around a bit; it’s at philly.com, but I also came across it here…

    The Institute of Terrorism Research and Response has embarrassed Pennsylvania’s Governor. Governor Ed Rendell apologized Tuesday to groups whose peaceful protests or events, from an animal rights demonstration to a gay and lesbian festival, were the subject of regular anti-terrorism bulletins being distributed by his homeland security director. Rendell said that the information was useless to law enforcement agencies and that distributing it was tantamount to trampling on constitutional rights. Bulletins also went to members of Pennsylvania’s booming natural gas industry because of several acts of vandalism at drilling sites.

    A Philadelphia rally organized by a nonprofit group to support Rendell’s push for higher spending on public schools even made a bulletin, as did a protest at a couple of Rendell news conferences in recent weeks as he pressed for a tax on the natural gas industry.

    “This is ludicrous. This is absolutely ludicrous,” Rendell said. “And I apologize to any of the groups who had this information disseminated about their activities. They have the right to protest.”

    Basically, as the ACLU tells us here via Daily Kos, PA’s Homeland Security Director James Powers authorized the ITRR to spy – and quite probably harass in the process – opponents of drilling for natural gas in the Marcellus Shale (with ITRR granted a contract for this type of surveillance by the state…one of the questions quite rightly posed by Rendell when he found out about this was why PA was contracting with the ITRR, when the PA State Police is capable of this type of investigation and response from law enforcement…if need be…also).

    I’ve done a little bit of poking around and I found out the following here about PA Homeland Security Director Powers; as you can read, he spent 30 years in U.S. Army Special Forces, attaining the rank of colonel. It’s highly possible that he circulated with some big names in the defense biz (which would figure since, as noted here, he was following the U.S. DoD Training Manual, which treats protests of the type over the Marcellus Shale drilling as “low-level terrorism”).

    Kudos to Rendell for putting the brakes on this as soon as he heard about it; also, I think you can be safe in assuming that there will be more forthcoming on this story.

  • Update 9/18/10: More here via Atrios…

    Update 9/26/10: I would say that this is a good reason to protest drilling in the Marcellus Shale (dear God).

  • 2) Also, Michael Smerconish of the Philadelphia Daily News had what I thought was a somewhat interesting observation on the whole Pastor Terry Jones/Almost Burning the Quran thing (here – a lot of this is a rehash from last week’s column by Christine Flowers, by the way, but at the time, I was on Jones-Mania-Overload if you will, so I didn’t bother to say anything)…

    Politicians can’t treat fringe players like they are world leaders. This story was energized by the likes of Gen. David Petraeus, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama. The more they talked, the more credibility the object of their ire got from the media.

    OK, but Smerky then tells us the following a little later…

    Let’s be clear. Petraeus was right. So were Gibbs, Clinton and Holder. The president was right, too, especially in his assessment of the event as a stunt.

    But by engaging the instigator – even though they were condemning his actions – Petraeus, Gibbs, Clinton, Holder and Obama created the impression that he was a serious person.

    The result? Round-the-clock media attention, which in turn fueled international outrage toward the U.S. And even though the organizer didn’t actually end up burning any Qurans, the attention he received was enough to inspire copycats.

    Ummm…so Gen. David Petraeus was right to call attention to that nut because his actions could pose harm to our troops (noted here), but Petraeus was wrong because he contributed to “round-the-clock media attention” also?

    Well then, I suppose it’s up to everybody to just ignore religious or pseudo-religious figures who incite passion in an attempt to garner publicity for themselves. OK.

    Just remember, though, that that includes this guy also.

  • 3) Finally, I give you the following from the campaign of Patrick Murphy for U.S. Congress:

    We knew it was coming. It was only a matter of time.

    Big Oil has officially put me on their list.

    This week the corporate front group Americans for Prosperity bought TV and radio ads attacking me.

    Americans for Prosperity is the comically named corporate front group for the oil industry. They have the distinction of being the primary corporate sponsors for those “grassroots” Tea Party rallies. Now they have decided to back my opponent, and it’s no wonder why.

    Americans for Prosperity uses their vast corporate resources to advance their radical agenda. This was the group that fought so that oil companies like BP could drill wherever they wanted to, however they wanted to. Then when things went wrong, they fought to make sure that BP could carry on like nothing ever happened. These are my opponent’s new best friends.

    My opponent has sold his campaign to the far-right. Americans for Prosperity is just one of many groups he has courted by simply molding his beliefs to fit with theirs. He has been rewarded for his “flexibility.”

    All my opponent had to do was deny the existence of global warming, turn his back on working families, and pledge his allegiance to corporate tax breaks instead of investing in American jobs. This time his reward was $22,000 in character attacks against me.

    Now we know who is in my opponent’s corner. Now we know whose interests he fights for – BP and Big Oil, not us.

    Well, I want you to know that while my opponent knows he can count on his friends from Big Oil, I know I can count on you. I need your help to fight back against Mike’s pile of corporate cash.

    Please, contribute $25, $50 or even $100 today, and help me reach my goal of $22,001 so we can show these corporate interests that we are NOT backing down.

    Together, we can show my opponent and his Big Oil buddies that the people own this seat now – and it’s not for sale.

    Thank you as always for your incredible friendship and support.

    God, this is so disgustingly typical of Mikey.

    He couldn’t even win the PA-08 seat to begin with in 2004 without some truly foul campaigning against Ginny Schrader, trying to link her to Hezbollah (and worse, as noted here, a particularly rank stunt since Schrader’s husband was a Jew).

    He couldn’t even defend the seat in 2006 without trying to slime Patrick Murphy’s military service with the assistance of Young Philadelphia Republican Kevin Kelly (here).

    And now, having lost the seat, he can’t compete for it once more without more odious campaign garbage as noted above (and in all three instances, he’s tried to disavow any knowledge of what went on or make sure he has an “out” for himself).

    Let’s help Patrick however our means may allow and send Mikey packing for good by clicking here (and don’t strain too much listening for a response of protest from the teabaggers, who profess to oppose politics as usual…if the issue has anything to do with Mikey, you can rely on hearing nothing but the sound of crickets).


  • Corbett’s Conundrum Over Health Care Reform, Etc.

    April 19, 2010

    The latest from Michael Morrill and Keystone Progress…

    The Office of Attorney General is one of the most important offices in all of government. The Attorney General, as the chief law enforcement officer of the Commonwealth, is responsible for the safety and security of all of the residents of Pennsylvania. The Attorney General has the power to file criminal and civil charges that can end a person’s life, lock someone in prison away from family and friends, and impose penalties that can eradicate a life’s savings.

    It is therefore incumbent upon the Attorney General to not only impartially prosecute the laws of the Commonwealth, it is vital that he avoid even the appearance of bias.

    In the last few weeks Attorney General Tom Corbett has come under almost daily criticism for appearing to be using the Office of Attorney General for political gain. Among the criticism are the following:

    • Corbett has politicized the Office of Attorney General by joining in a highly partisan lawsuit to repeal the recently passed federal healthcare reform legislation. Corbett agreed to join the lawsuit before the bill was even written, meaning he made his decision before reading the legislation.

    • Questions have been raised about the appearance of selective prosecution of legislators who may have used their legislative staff and offices to run political campaigns. Corbett has pursued the prosecution of mostly Democrats in what has become known as the “Bonusgate Scandal.” Recently, it has been reported that Corbett’s office did not investigate allegations against Republican State Senator Jane Orie.

    • Corbett’s campaign staff has admitted that they had been planning to file their suit against the healthcare reform legislation even before he had read the bill, sending out a fundraising mailing in February saying that he is “leading the fight” against “government-run socialized medicine.”1,2

    • Corbett has been accused of using his office and staff for his campaign for governor-the same charges he has brought against mostly Democratic lawmakers. 3

    • Keystone Progress filed a Right to Know request on March 26 seeking correspondence between the Office of Attorney General and outside entities, seeking to determine if there were political motives behind the Corbett’s decision to join the lawsuit against healthcare reform. To date the AG’s office has not provided that information. 4

    When there are so many concerns being raised it puts the integrity of the Office of Attorney General in serious question. The Attorney General’s judgment and actions cannot be doubted. His performance must be beyond reproach. That is why so many attorneys general, including Virginia Republican Bob McDonnell and New Hampshire Republican Kelly Ayotte, have resigned when seeking a higher office.

    After taking all of these factors into consideration, we have come to the conclusion that it is time for Mr. Corbett to resign as Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. The people of the Commonwealth need to trust that the justice system will work impartially, but the clouds of doubt and suspicion that are engulfing Mr. Corbett are raising too many doubts.

    We therefore urge Mr. Corbett to resign immediately. Click here to sign our petition, telling Attorney General Corbett to resign. http://www.corbettmustresign.com

    Signed,
    Michael Morrill
    for Keystone Progress

    We are not alone in our questions about the recent actions of Attorney General Corbett.

    • The DuBois, PA Courier-Express has called Corbett’s anti-healthcare suit “grandstanding,” “specious,” and “showboating with taxpayer money.”5

    • The Chambersburg Public Opinion said that the “accusations of hypocrisy warrant investigation.”6

    • The Philadelphia Inquirer editorial board says his lawsuit “clearly looks like a political ploy and a waste of state tax dollars.”7

    • The York Daily Record said “his [Corbett’s] decision to join a lawsuit seeking to undo the recently passed health care reform package looks a lot like using state resources to make political hay.”8

    • The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News editorial board declared that “Corbett has gone too far” by joining the anti-reform lawsuit.9

    • The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that even some Corbett loyalists are questioning his motives. “‘He’s not representing the people of Pennsylvania, he’s representing the Republican Party,” said Ruth Kahn of Warminster.” Kahn is described as a “former Corbett supporter.”10

    1 Philadelphia Daily News, April 2, 2010 (here)

    2 Philadelphia Daily News, March 31, 2010 (here)

    3 York Daily Record, March 27, 2010 (here)

    4 PA2010.com, March 26, 2010 (here)

    5 Courier-Express, March 27, 2010 (here)

    6 Chambersburg Public Opinion (here)

    7 Philadelphia Inquirer, March 25, 2010 (here)

    8 York Daily Record, March 26, 2010 (here)

    9 Patriot-News, March 26, 2010 (here)

    10 Philadelphia Inquirer, March 28, 2010 (here)

    Ed Rendell once recently praised Corbett on “The Rachel Maddow Show.” After reading this, I cannot possibly imagine why.

    And speaking of Corbett, here is an example of democracy in action from a couple of weeks ago.


    An “Inartful” Solution To PA’s Budget Impasse

    September 22, 2009

    jfa1881l
    Given that I rightly dump on the Inquirer and Daily News on a regular basis, it would be unfair of me not to give either paper credit when they do really good work. And that is true of Karen Heller’s column today (the subject is the last-minute deal to slap “an 8 percent surcharge on tickets and membership at arts and cultural organizations in Philadelphia, 6 percent elsewhere, at a time when endowments are down, giving is down, and attendance is down,” as Heller tells us)…

    “I don’t know what Gov. Rendell and the leaders of the legislature were thinking,” Greater Philadelphia Cultural Alliance president Peggy Amsterdam said before launching a “Fight the Arts Tax” movement at last night’s fall meeting. “The really sad thing is we try to make cultural experiences accessible and affordable to everyone. This is going to make it harder.” Increased ticket prices, she argued, will drive away even more patrons already hit by the recession.

    Of the alliance’s 390 member institutions, 40 percent are suffering deficits, including the Philadelphia Orchestra, with shortfalls of $3.3 million last fiscal year and a projected $7.5 million this year. It’s like drawing blood from an anemic. Amsterdam says projecting $100 million in annual tax revenues is pure folly: “Our estimates are nowhere near that – maybe $20 million statewide.”

    Arts administrators complain there are no details on how much will be redirected or where. What’s to prevent Republican lawmakers from taking Philadelphia Museum of Art revenues and shipping them, say, to the Enchanted Woodlins chainsaw carvings of Elk County?

    “If this had been proposed totally across the board on all forms of entertainment, you might say, ‘This stinks. It adds to our challenges, but these are really difficult times and we’re all doing our share,’ ” said Cultural Alliance chairman Hal Real. “But it’s not across the board. And it’s symptomatic of how undervalued the arts are in our culture.”

    “Not across the board” indeed: as Heller points out, anyone who wants to pony up some dough to ogle Megan Fox in “Jennifer’s Body” as she cavorts with and then subsequently attacks her boyfriends (apparently she’s a vampire also – I only know about the flick from the commercial that seems to be on everywhere) is free to do so without paying the 8 percent tax on top of the ticket price.

    And that also goes for anyone who wants to get drunk at a tailgate party and watch the Philadelphia Eagles’ defense get carved up by a reasonably competent NFL quarterback again (to say nothing of watching slapstick special teams play), as Drew Brees of New Orleans did last Sunday (I’ll admit that Brees is a lot better than “reasonably competent,” though). Also, in the matter of football, don’t you worry, all of you egomaniacs driving around in your Hummers, Jettas and Lexus SUVs with your lion’s paw decals and bumper stickers saying, “If God Isn’t A Penn State Fan, Why Did He Make The Sky Blue And White?”…it looks like your precious Nittany Lions weren’t affected either.

    And you want to know who else wasn’t affected by the 8 percent arts sales tax? The warmongering Pattison Avenue Potentate himself, Ed Snider, that’s who. Don’t worry, you’ll still be able to watch Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby and the rest of the Stanley Cup Champion Pittsburgh Penguins skate circles around the orange-and-black at the same cost you would have paid otherwise, to say nothing of watching the Sixers get eaten alive by other teams’ big men in the paint.

    (By the way, to the Eagles’ credit, I should point out that owner Jeffrey Lurie and Snider are polar opposites politically; the Eagles are big contributors to the Democratic Party.)

    Yes, I’m more than a little pissed about this, partly because, as Heller points out, it doesn’t make economic sense. However, the tax does appease the Republican Party for the purposes of doing the deal, which of course is what this is all about.

    And with that in mind, this tells us the following…

    The philosophical divide between those who see the arts as frivolous and those who see its value is as old as the nation.

    During the Great Depression of the 1930s, the federal Works Progress Administration paid thousands of unemployed artists to write regional guidebooks, produce plays and organize symphony orchestras. The work of more than 5,000 artists can still be seen today in murals commissioned for schools, post offices and other government buildings.

    President Obama has not proposed such a program but supports increased arts funding. Most Republicans oppose spending tax dollars on aesthetics.

    “America is a practical nation that comes from very practical roots,” says Robert Lynch of the advocacy group Americans for the Arts. “That practicality … is part of what we’ve had to overcome.”

    It was on display in the recent debate in Congress over the economic stimulus package.

    The House of Representatives version included $50 million for the National Endowment for the Arts to help non-profit arts organizations avoid closing or laying off workers, but the Senate version left it out. The final bill restored the money for the NEA.

    “Putting people to work is more important than putting more art on the wall of some New York City gallery frequented by the elite art community,” said Republican Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia during the debate.

    No word on whether or not Kingston ever found his flag lapel pin, by the way.

    But on top of that, anyone who thinks arts spending doesn’t make a positive economic impact (like Kingston) is just plan wrong (I linked to this in a prior post, but it bears repeating)…

    In Chicago, nonprofit arts and cultural organizations generate $1.09 billion in revenue, support 30,134 jobs, and deliver over $103 million in tax revenue to local and state government, according to the Illinois Arts Alliance. In Illinois, 23,643 creative enterprises employ 132,882 people, according to Americans for the Arts.

    And as noted here…

    The arts are a prime vehicle for job creation and a valued economic distribution mechanism. The country’s more than 4,000 local and state arts agencies have nearly 50 years of proven history as good stewards of our tax dollars and can ensure speedy disbursement to local projects, along with the excellent direct distribution track record of the National Endowment for the Arts itself. The arts are essential to the health and vitality of our communities.”

    NEA funds, on average, leverage $7 in additional support through local, state, and private donations, for every one dollar in federal support. Fifty million in economic stimulus will leverage $350 million of investment.

    And returning to Heller, she concludes with this…

    If you were a deeply cynical sort of person, even someone with a fleeting knowledge of the sour feelings Republicans have for Philadelphia and Rendell, you might think this latest culture tax was a spirited flamenco dance atop the city’s fiscal woes.

    In high heels, for good measure (to twist the old saying a bit, I guess PA’s Harrisburg poobahs don’t know much about spending money efficiently, but they know what they like…or don’t like in this case).


    Tuesday Mashup Part 1 (7/21/09)

    July 21, 2009

  • I guess I shouldn’t when all is said and done, but I feel sorry for PA Governor Ed Rendell.

    As noted in this Wikipedia article, Pennsylvania’s minority and women owned business participation rate quadrupled under his administration. He also managed to save $180 million by fixing PA’s antiquated procurement system (“antiquated” is an apt term for much of our state government, by the way). Also under his watch, gaming legislation was passed in an effort to reduce property tax revenue, which, despite some of my reservations, is a good thing on balance. Also, as noted here from a year ago, he presciently called for the development of an infrastructure bank, and as noted here, he has been a steadfast force in the Herculean effort of trying to enact common sense gun legislation in this state (though he was a bit too kind to the life forms who wanted to hang Philadelphia state rep Angel Cruz here).

    However, Rendell now holds a 39 percent approval rating largely due to the budget wrangling going on in Harrisburg, as noted here (hey, it could be worse – we could be “Gullyvornia” here, people), and he is now reduced to the role of running interference for fellow “Democrat” Arlen Specter as the latter tries desperately to hang onto his Senate seat in the face of a challenge from Joe Sestak, among others, as noted here.

    All of this leads me to believe that there will be a backlash of sorts next year when the Dems have to play defense in the 2010 elections, including in the Pennsylvania state house. And though I’m not sure what else Rendell could have done to avoid it, I have this unpleasant suspicion that he will end up marking off his remaining days while the Repug faithful await the gubernatorial coronation of Tom Corbett next year (please let me be wrong…).

  • And speaking of Corbett, it seems that Bucks County’s own commissioner Jim Cawley is making noises as if he wants to be Lieutenant Governor in a Corbett administration, according to this story in the Bucks County Courier Times, which has gone “the full wingnut” lately, with stories such as “Conservative Activism On The Rise” and “Conservatives Decry Obama Policies” by Gary Weckselblatt as well as a spread devoted to a Pat Toomey/Simon Campbell/Kathleen Zawacki fundraiser at Shady Brook Farm.

    (Yes, I understand these are coverage-worthy topics, but I don’t recall so much column space EVER devoted to Democratic/progressive causes or meetings leading up to the 2006 or 2008 presidential or congressional elections.)

    Well, as it turns out, Cawley and his fellow commissioner playmate, Charley “I Have A Semi-Open Mind” Martin, worked in concert with fellow poobah (and county operations officer) Dave Sanko to “(hire) 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”).

    By the way, the same “Thumbs Down” editorial criticizing Cawley and Martin also criticizes Rendell for saying that “one year” of incarceration for disgraced PA Dem Senator Vince Fumo would have been enough (he ended up with a 55-month sentence). I didn’t like Fumo’s creation of phantom jobs and other acts of taxpayer malfeasance, as well as hiring someone to spy for him on our dime (I should object to his shaking down of Exelon Energy also, though it’s hard to work up sympathy for them as well). However, I thought reporter Dave Davies of the Philadelphia Daily News made the following good points in a July 15th story (link expired on me – another genius Tierney move to combat those dastardly search sites stealing his precious circulation, or so he believes)…

    We should remember that Fumo isn’t getting away clean. He’s lost his office, his reputation and his law license, and will be ravaged by multimillion-dollar legal fees and restitution payments.

    Indeed, the sight of Fumo in court yesterday was pitiful. He sat between his fiancée and daughter, often clutching the hands of both. His expression was vacant, and a facial tremor became more acute as the day wore on. His lawyers say he’s now dependent on tranquilizers.

    When he rose to speak with Buckwalter, his voice was soft and he began to weep almost immediately. For those who remember Fumo in his blustering and confident prime, it was shocking to behold.

    And Fumo will serve four years in prison, a significant term for a 66-year-old man in poor health.

    Just sayin’, that’s all…

  • And finally, I should note that while I was away, Repug U.S. House Rep of PA-16 Joe Pitts actually showed a pulse and did something besides vote No; he concocted this screed full of “values voter” red meat about how the coming health care legislation from Obama and the congressional Dems is going to (wait for it…) MANDATE ABORTION ON DEMAND!! OMIGOD!!!

    Well, for the reality-based point of view, here is the following from Judy Berman of Salon.com…

    In the depressingly titled piece “Could Abortion Coverage Sink Health-Care Reform?” Time’s Karen Tumulty reminds us that, since 1976, The Hyde Amendment has prohibited Medicaid from using federal funding for abortion. But now that massive healthcare reform is on the agenda once again, lawmakers will have a chance to tackle the issue anew.

    What’s truly chilling about Tumulty’s piece is its warning about the widespread effects of banning federal funding for abortion under Obama’s healthcare plan. While The Hyde Amendment was only concerned with Medicaid, the new legislation may also affect women who use government subsidies to buy private health plans. “[I]f the antiabortion legislators get their way, those subsidies would have a big string attached; they could not be used to purchase a policy that has abortion coverage,” Tumulty writes. “For many women, that would mean giving up a benefit they now have under their private insurance policies. And it would raise all sorts of other questions if insurers were allowed to discriminate among their customers based on whether or not they are using federal dollars to pay for their policies.”

    And as Berman notes, any legislation banning federal funding for abortion will impact poor women significantly more than women who already have this benefit from private coverage.

    So, as usual, Pitts, being the dutiful Repug cipher that he is, claims oppression while he and his brethren maneuver out of the spotlight to actually expand Hyde and take away a right already guaranteed to women with coverage they already have.

    All of which is part and parcel of following the marching orders noted here.


  • Big Pharma Works The “Off-Label” Drug Dodge

    April 8, 2009

    risperdalThe Murdoch Street Journal opined today on a case in which Janssen Pharmaceuticals was named in an action by the state of Pennsylvania over Janssen’s antipsychotic drug Risperdal. The state alleges that Janssen has improperly marketed the drug for off-label uses not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, according to the Journal (Janssen denies this).

    Well, on second thought, I should back up a minute here; the Journal actually uses this story as an excuse to publicize Janssen’s rather interesting legal strategy (the Journal doesn’t really care about what’s at issue here, truth be told, or else they wouldn’t have said anything).

    See, Janssen is instead going after the office of Governor Ed Rendell and the law firm of Bailey, Perrin & Bailey contracted to handle the litigation, alleging some kind of a “pay to play” scheme that bypassed the state legislature.

    And we wouldn’t be talking about the Journal unless we read lines like these, of course…

    Asked why the Governor thought the case should be handled by his office rather than by the state AG, (Rendell spokesman Chuck) Ardo says, “the suit involves agencies directly under the Governor’s control, and the General Counsel’s Office believed it could eliminate a lot of unnecessary work by dealing with those agencies directly.” Readers can decide if they buy that one.

    State prosecutors are supposed to be motivated by a sense of public responsibility for the interests of justice. Law firms have other motivations…

    Hope the Journal’s Op-Ed writers have fun polishing those stones in their glass house, if you know what I mean.

    More to the point, though, this tells us more about the issue at hand, including this excerpt…

    “Off-label marketing is a sort of skinflint, cheap way of promoting drugs without doing the research needed to get the approval of the FDA for new uses,” said Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group, a Washington-based advocacy organization. “Companies that do this place patients at risk because there is no assurance that the benefits outweigh the risks.”

    The reason the state of Pennsylvania is suing Janssen over “off-label” use of Risperdal is because of the potential for life-endangering uses of “off-label” drugs, which can be marketed to a wider, more diverse audience in terms of age and medical history than originally intended (which, as of this 2007 article, seemed to be fine with the FDA, though we’ll see what happens in the event that former Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius is named as Heath and Human Services Secretary and a new FDA head is appointed).

    Here and here are articles detailing the potential for abuse of drugs designated as “off-label,” and here is more on the “off-label” sale of Risperdal and Zyprexa.

    In the meantime, I will look forward to the same level of scrutiny of the Janssen trial from the Journal as they gave to the pre-trial machinations of the defendant, and I hope I won’t be disappointed.


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