Notes From The Day After (Updates)

November 7, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now for the bad news…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

October 7, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And finally…

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

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

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

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


The Candidates of the Trump Party

October 10, 2016

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For Bucks County, PA local folk…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


“Civility” For Thee, But Not For Me?

March 15, 2016

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We learn the following from today’s issue of the Bucks County Courier Times (here)…

A Bucks County Republican candidate for the 8th Congressional District came out vehemently against a rival’s call to sign a civility pledge for the duration of the campaign. Fellow GOP candidate Brian Fitzpatrick issued the pledge to campaigns on both sides last week, amid controversy over a parody website and accusations of Hatch Act violations.

“It is one of the most insulting documents ever presented to me as a candidate,” said Andy Warren, a former county commissioner seeking the Republican nomination in the April 26 Pennsylvania primary. “I’ve never said one disparaging word about any candidates. I’ve been issue-oriented from the beginning.”

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Oh, and speaking of Andy Warren (What is he this week? A Democrat? A Republican? Try flipping a coin.), as far as I’m concerned, you can’t say much about him without a nod to this legendary post on Warren from Above Average Jane, in which we learn (among many other things) the following…

“It’s more difficult to build [roads] in Bucks because if Newtown says it’s Wednesday, Lower Makefield says, “No, it’s not. It’s the day before Thursday,” said Warren. “And you can substitute any two municipalities in Bucks for Newtown and Lower Makefield.” …. “You don’t have that in places like Lackawanna County,” Warren said.

Yep, ol’ Andy is prone to what you might call the “incendiary quote” himself from time to time; he may be technically right about not insulting other candidates, but he’s not exactly acting in accordance with Emily Post here, either (you can Google it). And I never did find out what is behind his apparent preference for Lackawanna County.

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Returning to the story…in typical fashion, the Courier Times mentions possible Hatch Act violations committed on Brian Fitzpatrick’s behalf, but fails to point out that the possible violations were carried out by none other than Brian’s brother, our departing wet noodle rep himself, “Mikey the Beloved” Fitzpatrick.

Specifically, as noted here…

Last year, long after GOP Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick announced he would retire, the Philadelphia-area representative began calling Republicans in his district to pitch them on a perfect successor: his brother.

But Brian Fitzpatrick, a FBI agent and Mike’s younger sibling, was still working as a federal law enforcement official when the calls began, according to two sources with knowledge of Mike Fitzpatrick’s efforts, one of whom received a call personally. That could prove a problem: The below-the-radar persuasion campaign may have violated a law that prohibits federal employees, or surrogates acting on their behalf, from running for partisan office or making preparations to do so.

Only a couple weeks after his campaign launch, Brian Fitzpatrick drove another leading GOP contender out of the race. He secured the endorsement of the local Republican Party soon after, as the field cleared. But a campaign law expert says his brother’s legwork beforehand may have run afoul of the Hatch Act — specifically the part which forbids federal employees from even “preliminary activities regarding candidacy,” including preparation by proxies.

So am I the only one out there who thinks this whole “civility” thing is nothing but a ruse to try and deflect attention from the Hatch Act issue?

Oh, and for the record, the parody web site aimed at Brian Fitzpatrick and linked to the Steve Santarsiero campaign is small potatoes by comparison when you consider this that was perpetrated by Brian’s brother (or, at a minimum, Mikey’s NRCC supporters without a word of reprimand against them) in 2012.


A U.S. House “Savior” from PA-08?

October 13, 2015

I have to admit that I’m a bit shocked by the recent developments concerning the presumptive would-be speaker of the U.S. House with the departure of “Man Tan” Boehner (and by the way, the corporate media narrative that a visit from Pope Frank had something to do with his departure is absolutely hilarious…here). I mean, I thought Kevin McCarthy would have been an absolute lock; all he had to do was stay on script and, for the most part, keep his mouth shut.

So now, it looks like the Repugs are scrambling to find someone palatable enough to both the “one percent” who truly call the shots and those poor deluded Teahadists who actually think the “party of Lincoln” in its current incarnation actually gives a fig about them.

I’ve heard about somebody named Bill Flores, as well as Trey Gowdy (the fool behind the BENGHAZI!!! Committee circus), and of course the Beltway media/political/industrial complex is pleading for Mr.-Puppy-Dog-Eyes-With-The-Shiv to come riding to the rescue (here).

However, I think all of what passes for that party’s brain trust is overlooking a rather obvious choice.

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And that would be none other than our PA-08 wet noodle rep himself, “Mikey The Beloved” Fitzpatrick.

Look at it this way; he has a degree of credibility with the GOP’s beloved “base” because he openly questioned whether or not President Obama would essentially commit treason by giving away top secret information (noted in the video from here, along with a lot of other stuff), and he also is a darling of the “banksters” since he has taken a lead role in trying to undermine the so-called Volcker Rule, which would restrict banks from making exactly the kind of speculative investments that very nearly wrecked our economy seven years ago.

Why do I care about this? Because presenting Mikey to the rest of this country and the world as the petulant, whining, hopelessly compromised charlatan that he truly is would make him emblematic of his party and (I would hope) count against their prospects for returning a Republican majority to the House in 2016 (though the odds on the Dems taking over are long, I’ll admit).

Besides, that would only help to draw more attention to Dems running to take over Mikey’s seat next year (here and here).

One more thought in closing: do you honestly believe that Mikey would be worse than Jason Chaffetz (here)?


The Rehabilitation of Jim Cawley?

January 16, 2015

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

To wit…

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

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


    Thursday Mashup (4/11/13) (updates)

    April 11, 2013

  • I don’t really have much to say here, but credit where it’s due to PA-31 U.S. House Rep Steve Santarsiero for introducing legislation mandating universal background checks for gun purchases in our beloved commonwealth, specifically long guns purchased at private sales (the Inquirer story more or less leads us to believe that those were the only guns that were previously exempt; also, sales between family members without a background check would apparently still be allowed – not completely happy with that, but for the time being, I’ll settle for three-quarters of the proverbial loaf…kudos to Steve – to find out more, including a petition to regulate drilling in the Marcellus Shale, click here).

    Also, I should note that Pat Toomey embodies just about everything I can’t stand in politics, and it remains an utter abomination that he defeated Joe Sestak in the campaign for Arlen Specter’s old seat in 2010. However, I would be remiss not to note his rather shocking cooperation with Dem Senator Joe Manchin on universal background checks (here) – I never thought I’d find myself giving Toomey credit for anything, but he deserves it here (though, of course, being a political animal, he knows the polling numbers on this issue, noted here and here, as well as anybody).

    I will be curious to see how “No Corporate Tax” Pat ends up re-burnishing his wingnut bona fides to work himself back into the good graces of the “American Illiterati,” as John Fugelsang so hilariously puts it, as a result of his good conduct on this issue.

    Update 1 4/16/13: So “We snookered the other side. They haven’t figured it out yet,” according to this insect named Alan Gottleib, huh (here)? Why am I not surprised?

    So Toomey-Manchin makes it a federal crime to set up a national gun registry? Because the wingnuts continue to live under this delusion that Obama is coming for their guns?

    Then ‘can the whole damn thing and try doing it right next time.

    Update 2 4/16/13: Where Crazy Tom Coburn goes, trouble surely follows (here) – just sh*tcan the whole damn thing and start over…better to have no deal than a rotten one.

  • And sticking with the subject of guns for a moment, Rich Lowry inflicts the following here (and why exactly is “America’s Fish Wrap” giving this clown a megaphone…oh, right – it’s more corporate media “balance”)…

    It is true that 90 percent of Americans support universal background checks. Who can be against background checks? Heck, even the NRA wants states to keep more complete records of who is forbidden from purchasing guns.

    Notice the meely-mouthed wording from Lowry here? He could just say “Heck, even the NRA supports universal background checks.”

    Of course, he doesn’t say that because he knows he would be utterly wrong (and as pointed out here, Lowry would still be wrong on the supposed issue of the NRA wanting to keep more complete records of who isn’t allowed to own a gun – how can states possibly do that when the NRA works as hard as they do to erode the gun laws we already have? And the linked story tells us once more that 90 percent of those polled, as well as 85 percent of NRA members, want universal background checks…and that includes Colorado, where James Holmes shot up his victims at the Aurora movie theater playing “The Dark Knight Rises,” as noted here).

    And oh yeah, did you know that the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre supported universal background checks in 1999, as noted here?

    Another thing…Lowry complains that President Obama supposedly “used children as props” in an effort to enact sane guns laws in this country.

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    Yeah, don’t you hate that?

  • Next, Alex Nowrasteh propagandized as follows as The Daily Tucker recently (here)…

    H-1Bs are a bellwether for the economy. As growth picks up, so do filings for H-1B applications. As unemployment skyrockets, filings for H-1B applications plummet. The high demand for these visas this year is a good omen for the economy, and hopefully for immigration reform efforts as well. Highly skilled immigrants are generally considered the “sugar” in any immigration reform efforts — they are used to “sweeten” the other controversial elements like legalization.

    After all, highly skilled immigrants tend to speak English, and there’s little fear of them abusing welfare or committing crimes. Their children typically excel at school , are economically successful, and are more culturally integrated than their parents.

    Don’t you just love Nowrasteh’s disgusting inference that non H-1B workers are more likely to be “abusing welfare” and “committing crimes”?

    Meanwhile, this Boston Globe story tells us the following…

    ON JAN. 14, 2010, senior executives at Molina Healthcare in Long Beach, Calif., called their staff together for a somber meeting. The company had done poorly the previous quarter, they announced. Dozens of people in the IT department would have to be let go.

    What the fired employees didn’t know was that the previous day, the US Department of Labor had approved applications for 40 temporary workers from India to be placed at Molina, through a company called Cognizant.

    The fired employees — all US citizens or green card holders — were earning an average of $75,000 a year, plus benefits; the new workers, brought on H-1B visas, earned $50,000, with no benefits, according to a lawsuit filed by the ex-employees. The lawsuit alleges that Molina was flush with cash at the time, and that the real reason employees were fired was their nationality.

    The business model is to replace Americans,” said James Otto, their attorney.

    Not just at Molina, he said. “It’s happening across the country.”

    I’m not even sure why this is considered to be news any more by now, but if nothing else, it needs to be pointed out in response to the disgusting pabulum of Nowrasteh and others.

    And in a similar vein, I give you this

    Brookings interviewed numerous corporations for that study. The report stirred up a storm with such statements as “employers have a difficult time recruiting residents with the skills they need, largely blaming the weak foundation of secondary education in the United States…employers complain that there is a shortage of skilled workers…[some employers] mentioned that they must recruit at over 50 college campuses in the United States to find 100 [science, technology, engineering, and mathematics] employees.”

    #Gene Nelson of San Luis Obispo, a PhD in radiation biophysics and an opponent of H-1B, calls the Brookings study “pathetic baloney.” He and fellow anti-H-1B activists make a good case that the program is basically a scheme to lower the overall wage level in the engineering/computer profession, thus jacking up corporate profits and paving the way for absurdly high top-management pay.

    And as noted in the video from here, an entire cottage industry has evolved of firms instructing potential employers how to run ads in order not to hire American workers and go the H-1B route instead (“gosh, well…you see, we just didn’t have a choice…all those baad American workers were busy collecting welfare and committing crimes…”).

    It would be nice to see one of these corporate bastards convicted of some type of malfeasance over this stuff, then get put out of business with each member of the management team sentenced to 20 years of hard labor on a rock pile.

    And let’s see now, Alex Nowrasteh, Alex Nowrasteh…why does that name sound familiar?

    Oh yeah, I remember now! He’s the son of Cyrus Nowrasteh, the propagandizing tool behind that “Path to 9/11” monstrosity that was posted about here and here (the wingnut apple doesn’t rot far from the tree, now does it?).

    (The late, great blog Outsourced America used to be all over this stuff – sigh.)

  • Continuing, it looks like we’ll have to deal with another crappy example of Repug non-governance (here)…

    This week House Republicans will introduce the misleadingly titled “Working Families Flexibility Act of 2013.” Touted by Republicans as a new comp time initiative that will give hourly-paid workers the flexibility to meet family responsibilities, it is neither new nor about giving these workers much needed time off to care for their families. The bill rehashes legislation Republicans passed in the House in 1997, some 16 years ago, and that they introduced again in most subsequent Congresses. Its major effect would be to hamstring workers – likely increasing overtime hours for those who don’t want them and cutting pay for those who do.

    Oh, but don’t you see? The Repugs are all about “choice.” As in, so-called “exempt” workers (who can’t collect overtime) have a choice now to work the hours denied to “non-exempt” employees who could collect the overtime before, but now cannot, since the exempt employees will do the work for them and the employers will pocket the difference in the way of bonuses for themselves. Witness our glorious free market enterprise system at work!

    And what if the “non-exempt” employee wants the money instead of the hours, and/or the “exempt” employee chooses not to do more work for free?

    unemployment-line_000
    Does this picture mean anything to any of us? Sure it does (especially after reading Alex Nowrasteh extolling the supposed virtues of H-1B workers, right?).

    And by the way, I want to emphasize that I’m not criticizing the author of this Hill column, who is Eileen Appelbaum, Senior Economist, Center for Economic and Policy Research (kudos to her for this, actually).

    So who is responsible for this latest legislative fraud? Why, that would be U.S. House Repug Martha Roby of Alabama (with the “blessing” of that sleazy weasel Eric Cantor, of course), as noted here.

    And as also noted here, it looks like Roby is a tool (“tool-ette”?) of the banksters, and yes, she supported Paul Ryan’s budget big time (here), and here is more of that “get big gumint out of the private sector, because Freedom!” stuff from Roby and the rest of her ilk.

    This latest bit of smoke and mirrors from the ruling clown show in the U.S. House will do nothing to address some of the iniquities faced by workers in this country as noted here (yes, I know the Forbes story is from November 2009, but based on my Google searching on this stuff, I haven’t found any improvements, sad to say).

    Update 5/8/13: And it looks like Roby is at it again (here).

  • Further, Jake Tapper decided to placate the other side over the latest bit of faux indignation (here)…

    On his CNN program Monday afternoon, Jake Tapper took a moment to look at the “buried lead” that is Fox News reporter Jana Winter facing jail time for refusing to out her confidential sources in a Colorado case. “Where is the public outrage?” Tapper asked his audience.

    In July 2012, during a “huge scoop,” Winter cited anonymous law enforcement sources when reporting that Aurora, Colo., theater shooter James Holmes had once given his psychiatrist a notebook detailing his plans for a killing spree. Tapper wrote on his CNN blog that her reporting on the story revealed how “the system failed” the victims, and that her scoop allowed the “public to judge how well the judicial, and mental health, and other systems are working.”

    “Instead of a focus on how the system failed, we’re talking about whether Winter should go to jail for reporting on Holmes’s journal, which was found in a mail room after the attack,” Tapper lamented.

    And so, Tapper wanted to know, “where’s the public outrage?

    Please…

    To begin, this stuff has been going on for years (as noted here), wrong as it is I’ll admit, but I didn’t hear anyone from Fix Noise or their fellow travelers complaining out loud when it involved the New York Times, the Washington Post, the AP, et cetera, et cetera.

    However, as noted here (with the headline asking a very good question), “By acquiring the notebook, however, it was clear that Winter had been in contact with an individual who violated the gag order imposed on anyone with information about the ongoing Holmes trial.”

    Here is my question – where is Winter’s editor in this fiasco? Does she even have one?

    It should also be noted that, on the subject of reporters and leaking or withholding information, Tapper has no grounds to criticize anybody. As noted here and here, he misrepresented the position of our prior ruling cabal on the issue of firing anyone who had anything to do with leaking the identity of Valerie Plame; Tapper said that Bushco would only fire someone who had broken the law – Plame’s husband, diplomat Joe Wilson, pointed out that the administration’s former PR flak Scott McClellan said they would fire anyone involved in the leak whether they’d broken the law or not (and as you’ll recall, Karl Rove, just about named by Time reporter Matthew Cooper, was allowed to leave on his own terms).

    I’ll admit that there’s room to question both the behavior of Winter and the judge here. However, you can’t go against a court ruling on revealing information that could be prejudicial to a trial (and by the way, you’d better believe that Holmes’s lawyers are concocting some way to try and get a potential guilty verdict overturned on grounds of a mistrial over this). And please spare me the wailing and gnashing of teeth…”oh, that baad mainstream media won’t cover this First Amendment catastrophe because it involves Fox.”

  • Finally, it’s time to turn to South Carolina U.S. Senator Huckleberry Graham (here).

    As we know, President Obama submitted his budget to Congress, which included the horrendous formula known as “Chained C.P.I.” as part of calculating Social Security benefits (opposed by 2.3 million people, as noted here).

    Of course, being a Repug, Graham just loves anything that sticks it to the “99 percent.” So how did he communicate what he thought of the budget?

    “The president is showing a bit of leg here,” Graham said.

    Now, if you’re of a certain age (and I am, which I’m a bit loathe to admit at times), one of the first images that comes into your mind when you hear that expression is that of actress Claudette Colbert in the movie “It Happened One Night” raising the hem of her dress to reveal a bit of leg, as it were, while trying to hitch hike, in an effort to get a car to slow down and look at her and offer a ride (the joke that works rather well in the movie is that her co-star Clark Gable first tried the more traditional means of sticking out his thumb, which obviously failed).

    I don’t suppose that Graham knows this, though his handlers obviously do, including the Repug Party marketers and image makers who are compensated handsomely for trying to pull the proverbial wool over our eyes on a 24/7/365 basis.

    My point (finally) is that, as opposed to saying, “We agree with some of what the president is proposing, but we want a closer look before we commit to anything” or similar language, Graham attempts to almost feminize Obama here, and thus, further trying to disrespect and delegitimize him (can you imagine the outcry if, say, Al Franken had said that about Dubya?).

    After all, you can’t truly be a Repug unless you’re shamelessly demagoguing your enemies and accusing them of the same tactics you’re practicing yourself, can you?

    Of course, Graham really doesn’t have any room to raise gender-bending talking points about anyone when you consider this…does he?


  • Thursday Mashup (3/28/13)

    March 28, 2013

  • (I’m trying to play catch-up a bit here – sorry if I’m a bit behind on some of this stuff.)

    Recently, Mikey the Beloved opined as follows (here)…

    In days of old, the filibuster was used as a way to prevent the majority from overriding the minority…

    I honestly don’t know if Mikey is living in a time warp these days or not (days of old?), but as noted here from last September, the Repugs (the minority party in the Senate, let’s not forget – and hopefully it will remain that way after next year) have blocked about 375 bills proposed by the Democrats via the filibuster. That’s not “prevent(ing) the majority from overriding the minority” – that’s called obstruction.

    I will grudgingly cede Fitzpatrick’s point that the so-called “talking” filibuster seemed to be preferred by most of those polled in this country as noted here, though the linked post also tells us that those polled are concerned also about other abuses of Senate process by the minority party (and why the hell is Mikey so damn concerned about the Senate anyway?).

    Mikey also tells us the following…

    Last year, the Administration proposed waiving work requirements for welfare recipients, a misguided move, I believe…

    Yes, it would be misguided, if in fact it had been proposed by the Obama White House. The only problem for Mikey is that it didn’t happen (here)…

    The administration’s welfare waiver initiative would strengthen work requirements by empowering states to innovate on strategies that could move 20 percent more of the caseload into sustainable employment. As the government’s directive announcing the initiative notes, “The Secretary is only interested in approving waivers if the state can explain in a compelling fashion why the proposed approach may be a more efficient or effective means to promote employment entry, retention, advancement, or access to jobs that offer opportunities for earnings and advancement that will allow participants to avoid dependence on government benefits.” Republican and Democratic governors — and even Romney and Paul Ryan — have all promoted flexibility before Obama embraced it. [HHS, 7/12/2012]

    Mikey concludes with the following…

    Sadly, I took to the House floor last week to speak about Harry Fawkes, the late and former chairman of the Bucks County Republican Committee. Harry was selfless and magnanimous; everything he did was for the benefit of our county. He was a friend and mentor to many of us in public life today and often said, “good government is good politics.”

    I tried to observe a bit of respectful silence over the passing of Bucks County Repug Poobah Harry Fawkes (probably more than he would afford us), but I think it is now important to recall the following…

  • Fawkes once lamented a win here by Repug Charley (“I Have A Semi-Open Mind”) Martin over Steve Santarsiero in the Bucks County Commissioners contest because it was too narrow, I guess (with Fawkes claiming that Bucks would turn into “New Jersey West” with a Dem majority of commissioners…typical).
  • Fawkes also encouraged real, honest-to-goodness voter fraud here upon hearing that some PA Repugs registered as Democrats so they could vote for Hillary Clinton in the ’08 primary, after which they would presumably switch their registrations back to Republican again, all in a failed effort to derail Number 44 (creating undue headaches and likely overtime for poll workers who had to process their application forms back and forth…”good government is good politics” – too funny.)
  • Fawkes also accused former PA-08 Congressman Patrick Murphy of “financial improprieties” here with defense contractor (and campaign donor) Kuchera Systems, all because Murphy accepted the donation and returned about $5 grand in earmarks in legislation, one of which benefitted Kuchera (no evidence that Murphy benefitted personally of course – yeah, remember how horrible earmarks were supposed to be, even though they accounted for about one one-hundredths or less of the federal budget?). And as I noted at the time, how ridiculous was it (to say nothing of partisan) to criticize Murphy for this given that Mikey the Beloved, Fawkes’ protégé for jobs both in county and federal government, held onto about $190 grand in donations from political action committees tied to disgraced former lobbyist Jack Abramoff (here)?
  • Mikey has a little caveat at the end that these little “Congressman’s notebook” posts of his will appear in his designated house organ twice a month as a way to “shed some light” on what he is doing. I think PA-08, though, would be better served if he were to spend the time he would use writing these posts instead on legislation that actually addresses the needs of his constituents.

  • Next, I turn to one of Mikey’s Repug playmates In the House (here)…

    A Republican lawmaker is concerned about voter registration questions buried in a draft application to receive benefits under President Obama’s healthcare law.

    Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.), who leads a House subcommittee on oversight, said the questions’ placement could lead some to believe that voter registration is tied to eligibility for the law’s insurance exchanges.

    “While the healthcare law requires that government agencies collect vast information about Americans’ personal lives, it does not give your department an interest in whether individual Americans choose to vote,” Boustany wrote in a letter Monday to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.

    At the end of the Hill article, though, we learn the following (“asked and answered,” if you ask me)…

    Many voters register in the process of receiving or renewing their driver’s license, and applications for Medicaid, food stamps and other benefits usually afford the same chance.

    States must offer an opportunity for voter registration through any office that provides public assistance, according to the National Voter Registration Act of 1993.

    Of course, “Birther” Boustany (here), being a typical wingnut, is an old hand at blame avoidance; this tells us that, as a medical doctor, he was the target of three malpractice suits (kind of explains his embrace of “tort reform” – I’m sure this is more “cause an effect” stuff too). He also paid $18,250 to receive an English title that turned out to be bogus (as the 9/09 Daily Kos post tells us), and as noted here, he claimed in September 2007 that “sectarian slayings were down” in Iraq, when quite the opposite was true. And as noted here, “Lord” Boustany opposed a provision in the health care law that dedicated $1.1 billion to researching the effectiveness of medical drugs and procedures; what is so appalling is that Boustany had not, in fact, even bothered to read the text of the provision he opposed.

    I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise that Boustany and the rest of the “pay no price, bear no burden” bunch can’t fathom that lower-income voters don’t have the luxury of making multiple trips (in their luxury vehicles, no doubt, possibly with someone else doing the driving) and need the legally-protected option of registering to vote when they apply for federal government services as part of “one-stop shopping.” And I have no doubt that, given the chance, Boustany would eliminate that option for those less fortunate altogether.

    Which makes the task of ensuring voting integrity (as opposed to the straw man of “voter fraud” supposedly by actual voters) all the more important.

  • Continuing, the Daily Caller whines as follows (here)…

    Democratic New Mexico Sen. Martin Heinrich founded an environmentalist group with a convicted eco-terrorist in the 1990s.

    Heinrich, who will meet with President Obama in the Oval Office Monday to establish the Rio Grande del Norte as a national monument, was elected to the Senate in 2012 with the financial backing of numerous environmentalist groups.

    Prior to his political career, Heinrich c0-founded and chaired the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance. David Foreman, a convicted criminal and founder of the radical environmental “warrior society” Earth First!, was among the other co-founders of the group. He also sat on the board during Heinrich’s tenure as chairman.

    Leave it to Tucker Carlson’s Crayon Scribble Page to get the story exactly wrong – this tells us the following…

    Foreman’s arrest was the culmination of three years and two million tax dollars spent in an attempt to frame a few Earth First! activists for conspiring to damage government and private property. The FBI infiltrated Earth First! groups in several states with informants and undercover agent-provocateurs. Over 500 hours of tape recordings of meetings, events and casual conversation had been amassed. Phones had been tapped and homes broken in to. The FBI was doing their best to intimidate radical environmentalists across the country, marking them as potential threat to national security.

    Back in the 1970s the FBI issued a memo to their field offices stating that when attempting to break up dissident groups, the most effective route was to forget about hard intelligence or annoying facts. Simply make a few arrests and hold a public press conference. Charges could later be dropped. It didn’t matter; by the time the news hit the airwaves and was printed up in the local newspapers, the damage had already been done.

    It was the FBI’s assertion that the action stopped by the arrests under that Arizona power line in late May, 1989, was to be a test run for a much grander plot involving (Mark) Davis, (Marc) Baker, (Peg) Millet, and the group’s leader, Dave Foreman. The FBI charged the four with the intent to damage electrical transmission lines that lead to the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons facility in Colorado.

    “The big lie that the FBI pushed at their press conference the day after the arrests was that we were a bunch of terrorists conspiring to cut the power lines into the Palo Verde and Diablo Canyon nuclear facilities in order to cause a nuclear meltdown and threaten public health and safety,” explained Foreman.

    The Counter Punch story also tells us that, in the late 1980s, the FBI launched a unit called THERMCON “in response to an act of sabotage of the Arizona Snowbowl ski lift near Flagstaff, Arizona that occurred in October 1987, allegedly by Davis, Millet and Baker.” One of the THERMCON agents was Michael A. Fain, a fairly inept individual who basically admitted on tape that THERMCON had targeted Foreman (with Fain saying that Foreman “isn’t the guy we need to pop”).

    However, the case proceeded anyway, with this perhaps inevitable result…

    …the case against Foreman, having been deferred almost seven years, was finally reduced in 1996 to a single misdemeanor and a meager $250 in fines. The $2 million the FBI wasted tracking Earth First! over the latter part of the 1980s had only been nominally successful. Yet the alleged ring-leader was still free. Unfortunately, the FBI may have gotten exactly what they wanted all along. Dave Foreman later stepped down as spokesman to Earth First! and inherited quite a different role in the environmental movement — one of invisibility and near silence.

    And to think that Carlson and his ilk have the gall to criticize Foreman for “less-than-level headed statements,” which is a bit hilarious when you also consider this.

  • Finally, it looks like Teahadist nematode Phil Gingrey has entered the race for the soon-to-be-vacant U.S. Senate seat of Saxby Chambliss, as noted here.

    Given that, I think it’s instructive to look at what Gingrey “brings to the table,” as noted here.

    (And by the way, I am hardly gloating on this subject – given the fact that five incumbent U.S. Senate Democrats are stepping down also, as noted here, I would say that we have more than a little bit of work to do in that area.)


  • Steve Gets Hit Below The Belt

    October 7, 2012

    I was wondering why we really hadn’t heard much from Anne Chapman in her campaign to try and unseat Steve Santarsiero for the latter’s PA-31 State House set. And now I know why.

    It seems Chapman (aside from taking pot shots at Planned Parenthood like every other Republican) would rather let the slimy bottom-feeders of Citizens Alliance of Pennsylvania do it for her.

    CAP is just another Teahadist-simpatico, “limited government,” glibertarian band of fools and frauds who, more often than not, performs the “circular firing squad” bit at Republicans who aren’t crazy enough for their liking.

    However, this time, they have decided to circulate a mailer making the truly scurrilous charge that Santarsiero approved funding for the “Second Mile” charity run by convicted pedophile (and former Penn State football coach) Jerry Sandusky (story is here – CAP also put together a mailer listing the salaries of the teachers of the Neshaminy School District, taking a page from the truly odious Simon Campbell of the Pennsbury School Board…oppose what the Neshaminy teachers are doing if you wish – on balance, I don’t – but keep such Rovian garbage out of our beloved commonwealth).

    Fortunately, a synapse of an actual journalistic impulse by the Courier Times editorial board snapped to life, and they wrote the following about the CAP/Santarsiero mess today (here)…

    While Santarsiero’s votes on state spending are legitimate fodder for debate — the broad allegation in the mailers — such discussion should be grounded in fact. Instead, the mailers fudge a most important fact leading to this reckless allegation: that Santarsiero cast an “irresponsible” vote awarding $3 million of taxpayer money to (Second Mile) “AFTER it was revealed that (the charity) was under investigation for being the place Sandusky used to find his future child victims.”

    Fact is, that vote was cast in 2010, well before the abuse scandal broke. And Santarsiero was but one lawmaker among many, including several from Bucks, who approved a grant for The Second Mile charity, which at the time was not widely known to be associated with Sandusky — hardly a household name anyway. Additionally, none of that money made it to Second Mile, which is supposed to benefit poor kids, as lawmakers withheld the funds when the allegations against Sandusky became known.

    Here is a link to the vote in question (119 Yeas and 75 Nays…in addition to Steve, Repugs Gene DiGirolamo, Frank Farry and Mike “Mitt Romney Will Win PA Because of Voter ID” Turzai are also on the list in the “Yea” column…so they supposedly helped fund Second Mile under aid and abet Sandusky also?).

    (By the way, though the Courier Times editorial board deserves credit here for doing the right thing, I have to wonder why they stepped up on this occasion but allow publication in their Op-Ed section of such a torrent of demonstrably contestable right-wing lies on a routine basis.)

    Considering all of this, what does Steve’s challenger Anne Chapman have to say? The news story tells us the following…

    “CAP is an independent organization. They can do what they do. I have nothing to say about it,” said the Lower Makefield resident. “Tell (Santarsiero) to take it up with CAP.”

    But Leo Knepper, the executive director of CAP, said his group’s representatives met with Chapman to discuss issues “that are important to CAP” before deciding to take aim at Santarsiero.

    So we’re supposed to believe that, somehow, Knepper spoke with Chapman but didn’t mention the upcoming mailer?

    If you believe that, I’ve got a bridge to one of the five New York City boroughs to sell to you; as far as I’m concerned, that makes Chapman both a liar and a coward for not denouncing the slimy tactics of Leo Knepper and Bob Guzzardi of CAP.

    This is Leo Knepper, by the way (pic is from philly.com – I think it’s important to identify these cretins as completely as possible).

    The best way to respond to this idiotic garbage is to help Steve, and to do that, please click here.


    Thursday Mashup (6/14/12)

    June 15, 2012
  • So the Federal Election Commission is going after Former Senator “Wide Stance,” huh (here).

    Here is my question: why not the Department of Justice?

    As TPM tells us…

    The case stems from the Idaho Republican’s embarrassing 2007 arrest by an undercover cop in a Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport bathroom stall. The cop said Craig made sexual advances toward him by tapping his feet under the stall divider.

    The senator quietly pleaded guilty to misdemeanor disorderly conduct three months later. But after his case hit the media, Craig reversed himself and hired a team of attorneys to get his guilty plea thrown out.

    On Monday, the FEC alleged that Craig used campaign donations from supporters as his own personal piggy bank to try to reverse his plea. The commission said he paid $139,952 to the Washington, D.C. law firm of Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan and another $77,032 to the Minneapolis firm of Kelly & Jacobson.

    “These legal costs were not made in connection with his campaign for federal office or for any ordinary and necessary expenses incurred in his connection with his duties as Senator,” FEC lawyers wrote in the lawsuit.

    Sooo…Craig will not have to undergo the criminal prosecution meted out to another disgraced former Senator?

    Craig won’t be called “a cheating, lying, disgraceful, husband…and human being,” as a certain ex-North Carolina senator was here?

    Why not? Is it because John Edwards was accused of squirreling away $1 million in campaign funds for Rielle Hunter and the baby he fathered with her, and Craig is accused of using only about $200,000 of his campaign funds for his self defense?

    Really, do the dollar amounts matter? If that’s all that determines whether or not someone rich and powerful is prosecuted in this country for alleged illegality, then we’re worse off than I thought.

    No, this just confirms that the John Edwards trial had very little to do with matters of law. However, it had everything to do with trying to create salacious headlines and “news” tidbits about a photogenic individual guilty of admittedly seamy conduct in an attempt to manufacture a guilty verdict that lawyers for the Department of Justice, due to lack of evidence or incompetence, could not actually win on their own. And I’d really like to hear someone try to explain why Larry Craig should not be prosecuted in a similar manner (maybe because Craig looks like your granddad after too many highballs and the notion of sex with men in bathrooms is too icky for Eric Holder, and he’d like to keep it out of the headlines any way possible?).

    God Bless America.

  • Also, this item is a bit “off the beaten track” for me, but I feel like I should respond anyway (never stopped me before :-))…

    Making good on its threat, the new leadership of the Philly Pops filed a motion Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court seeking to end the organization’s relationship with Peter Nero, its music director of 33 years.

    Nero’s contract, the Pops said in its filing, is “simply too economically burdensome.” The Pops “can no longer afford to compensate Nero at the levels provided for in the employment agreement while simultaneously hoping to continue its existence in the future.”

    The Pops has begun the search for a replacement for Nero for the 2012-13 season – even as tickets have already been sold for concerts billed as being led by Nero – and will import guest conductors for lower fees, the filing states. The motion requests an expedited hearing in court, with a rejection of the contract by June 30.

    Nero is fighting the move.

    “We don’t think it’s Peter that needs to go, but the board that needs to go,” said Nero’s lawyer, Albert A. Ciardi 3d. Ciardi said he had only briefly looked at the motion, but was preparing a strategy that would keep “Nero performing with the Pops. We don’t believe they have a very good business justification for doing this.

    “Peter is the Pops, and the Pops is Peter.”

    If successful, the rejection would end an institutional personification that has been Philadelphia’s answer to other rarefied pops partnerships such as Arthur Fiedler’s Boston Pops and Erich Kunzel’s Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. Nero has characterized the move as a “takeover attempt” of the ensemble he has led since its founding in 1979 by impresario Moe Septee.

    The move to oust Nero, 78, comes after an unsuccessful attempt to renegotiate his contract in the middle of its term. The Pops has sought to impose a 40 percent pay cut on Nero, whose most recent annual compensation was $513,000, according to Frank Giordano, the Pops’ president and chief executive. Nero has disputed that figure, saying it included office space, storage, transportation, and other expenses related to his job as both conductor and the artistic chief.

    The effort is being led by Giordano, who started as a volunteer before beginning to pay himself a $1,000-per-week salary in January.

    How noble on Giordano’s part, until you read the following later in the story…

    One solution, which (Walter D. Cohen, chairman of the board overseeing Philly Pops) said he argued for at the board meeting, would be delaying the hiring of a new chief operating officer to save money. Giordano has prepared a budget for next season that calls for hiring that additional administrator, plus raising his own salary to $91,000 a year. Cohen called that “a problem.”

    Uh, yeah – I would say that a raise for the COB of about 910 percent while this same person cries poor mouth over the compensation owed to Philly Pops’ most recognizable talent constitutes “a problem” also.

    For another point of view on this, I give you the following from here (concerning the original bankruptcy filing by the Philadelphia Orchestra Association in a story dated from May 2011…it should be noted that the Pops is in bankruptcy as a result of formerly being part of the Association)…

    The Philadelphia Orchestra is not insolvent and it is nowhere near insolvent. According to its IRS filing, it ended Fiscal 2009 with an endowment of over $129,000,000 (down from $143,580,000 the year before) and this sum is more than three times its liabilities as of the filing date of the Chapter 11 proceeding. To the extent that there is a genuine problem it is cash flow. A cash flow crunch, and a nasty desire to stick it to the musicians who make the music which is the alpha and omega of the orchestra’s reason for being is what’s motivating this bankruptcy filing…

    The 700 pound gorilla in the room is the Orchestra Association’s obligation to the musician’s pension fund. This was an obligation it negotiated and now wishes to go back on. In common parlance (and at the risk of insulting Bryn Terfel) it wishes to welch on its debt. The orchestra argues “this is worse than it appears.” And indeed it is, but not in the way the orchestra claims.

    Management no longer wishes to have any part of the agreement it solemnly entered into. The pension obligation is roughly $3,000,000 per year, and if it withdraws from its obligation it is contractually committed to make a one-time $25,000,000 payment to the pension fund. The Orchestra Association argues on the one hand that by welching on this and other debts it can save $40,000,000 over five years. This is fascinating in that management’s last audited financial statement estimated pension costs over the next five years at $16,340,000. It is little wonder that the musicians’ union does not believe the Philadelphia Orchestra Association’s numbers since they are simply made up.

    Worse, years ago the Orchestra Association went to the musicians and in effect said “Look, we have a cash crunch. Please allow us to issue an IOU to the pension fund instead of cutting a check.” The union agreed and a series of memoranda of understanding were entered into, creating an unfunded pension liability. That accrued pension liability, which was $18,984,000 at the end of FY 2009, was $22,895,000 at the end of FY 2010 according to the Orchestra Association’s audited statement. So if I am reading this right, the orchestra is in the hole to the pension fund to the tune of $22,895,000 as of the end of FY 2010 and, if it opts out of the agreement, it owes another $25,000,000 on top of that (instead of $3,000,000 or so per year going forward). It is this debt that the Orchestra Association wants the Bankruptcy Court to say may be skipped out on. In fact, it was the short-sighted, greedy decision by the Orchestra Association to try to avoid this debt that motivated the bankruptcy filing. The musicians bailed the Orchestra Association out by accepting $22,895,000 in IOUs instead of cash on the barrel-head and this is the thanks it gets. Sort of restores your faith in human gratitude, doesn’t it Mr. Scrooge?

    The lesson for any group covered by a pension plan when the non-sovereign employer (that is, an employer not possessed of the power to lay and collect taxes) says “We need to create an unfunded liability due to our cash situation” is “Absolutely not unless you bond the obligation.” One assumes that the musicians’ union will know for next time.

    Of course, throughout all of this the orchestra members have done 100% of what they were contractually obligated to do: Play music to the best of their estimable, world-class abilities. The Orchestra Association had 100% of their effort and 100% of their skill, on time and in the manner required. The Orchestra Association responded to this by providing zero good faith and zero professional competence.

    Oh, and by the way, it looks like the Orchestra Association also exceeded its limits on “fees and expenses for public relations during the past 15 months as it worked its way through the Chapter 11 process,” as Peter Dobrin of the Inquirer reports here (in addition to his coverage on the Peter Nero story).

    And who was one of the beneficiaries when the limits were exceeded?


    Brian Communications, that’s who (a PR company founded by the former head of the Inquirer and Daily News, which is expected to be paid $780,000 through the end of the bankruptcy process, according to a forecast provided to The Inquirer).

    Sooo…$780,000 in PR for Tierney is OK, but $513,000 for a world renowned talent like Peter Nero is a problem.

    Tell you what – how about if they take some of Tierney’s dough, use it to “comp” Nero the amount the Board doesn’t want to pay, and if Tierney still wants the money he’s owed, he can earn it cleaning the mouthpieces of the woodwinds and the brass instruments, and maybe tidying up in the orchestra pit at the Kimmel too.

  • Finally, turning to our backyard, I haven’t said anything about the PA State House race in the 31st district between incumbent Dem Steve Santarsiero and Repug challenger Anne Chapman, so please allow me to do so here.

    As noted in this story from a couple of months ago…

    “I believe that my campaign message resonated with the voters who are tired of the burdensome taxes, the waste in government and the piling up our debt,” Chapman said in an interview with BucksLocalNews.com.

    Spoken like a card-carrying member of the bunch that ran up the debt in the first place – continuing…

    She lauded her campaign manager Rob Ciervo, a Newtown Township supervisor, for his continued hard work on her behalf during the primary election cycle. She also thanked her donors and the voters who came to the polls and gave their support.

    And for a reminder about “Self” Ciervo, I give you this

    Chapman, a described life-long conservative, entered the race to promote and enact job growing intiatives (sic), reform to save tax dollars and end property taxes. She said that her ideas are met with concrete solutions.

    She said House bills such as the Property Tax Independence Act will eliminate pesky property taxes by providing a “more equitable tax that would be fair to all and based on ability to pay.”

    “The act would fund our schools by an increase in the sales and usage tax of one percent on non-essential items and a less than one percent increase in state income tax, which would fund our schools in a revenue-neutral way and adjust for changes in pupil enrollment,” she explained.

    To her knowledge, she said the act would share the responsibility for funding schools with residents and out-of-staters who visit and use products and services in Pennsylvania.

    Really? As noted in a recent Santarsiero mailer (can’t find an online link yet)…

    The proposal (HB 1776) would raise the personal income tax by 0.94%. So, as an example, for a family with a household income of $100,000, state income taxes would rise by $940.

    Under the bill, the state sales tax would increase from 6% to 7%. Even worse, the bill would expand the sales tax to include many goods and services that are not currently taxed. For example, clothing over $50 would now be taxed at 7%. Moreover, all food and beverages other than some meats, milk, cheese, eggs, produce and certain cereals would be taxed at 7%.

    (Also), individuals and families would have to pay a tax on most legal, accounting, architectural and even parking services, while corporations would be exempt from doing so.

    Despite its authors’ claims, HB 1776 does not eliminate property taxes. Property taxes would still exist for county and municipal services. They also would remain to pay for school debt. The bottom line is that about 30% of your property taxes would remain, in addition to the new taxes listed here.

    And speaking of that, here are items that would be taxed at 7% under HB 1776:

  • Non-prescription medicines
  • Most toiletries
  • Newspapers and Bibles
  • Textbooks (another burden for our students)
  • Candy and gum
  • Services rendered in the construction industry, including home repair and remodeling (which would undoubtedly hurt our already-ailing housing market)
  • Flags of the USA and Pennsylvania (presumably you could buy a flag of a foreign country without paying a tax)
  • Caskets, burial vaults and grave markers/tombstones (a new twist on the “death tax”)
  • And here are services and activities that would be taxed at 7% under HB 1776:

  • Barber/hair styling (what, no tanning beds or yachts, Repugs?)
  • Dry cleaning
  • Pet grooming
  • Veterinary services
  • Sporting events (Phillies, Flyers, Eagles, Sixers, etc.)
  • Golf, tennis, bowling, skiing, fitness, facilities, etc.
  • Theatre, movies, music, dance
  • Museums, parks, zoos, historical sites
  • Physical therapy
  • Occupational therapy
  • Psychologists services
  • Chiropractors
  • Air and ground transportation
  • Television
  • Waste disposal
  • But wait, there’s more!

    One of the big reasons why our property taxes are high right now is because the state does not adequately fund its share of costs for school districts like Pennsbury and Council Rock (despite a constitutional mandate to do so). To fix that problem, we need to change the formula by which state funding is given to school districts so that we get our fair share.

    Unfortunately, HB 1776 would give the sole authority to decide educational funding to Harrisburg.

    Hey, Simon Campbell and his minions in charge of the Pennsbury School Board may be nuts, but at least they’re our nuts, people!

    If state revenue for all the new taxes mentioned above falls because of a downturn in the economy, our schools will get shortchanged even more than they do already. How does HB 1776 propose to address that problem? It lets school districts impose a new, local Personal Income Tax (on top of any existing local Earned Income Tax and the state Personal Income Tax).

    Under HB 1776, most residents of the Newtown-Yardley area will pay more in taxes. At the same time, we would lose local control over our school boards and the quality of our schools. That is not a good bargain.

    Oh, but Anne Chapman and Rob Ciervo like HB 1776. What could go wrong?

    Only everything.

    Please click here to support Steve for another term, so sanity will prevail in PA-31 for the foreseeable future.


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