Greco Leaving As Governor’s Health Care Guru

Rosemarie Greco is leaving as Ed Rendell’s point person for health care.  As head of the Governor’s Office of Health care Reform she was anything but a reformer.  Greco refused to even meet with anyone representing single payer health care and worked to block progress on this real health care reform.

Her experience in the corporate world is primarily responsible for her fervent protection of insurance company interests on behalf of Ed Rendell.  When the Governor introduced his half way measure (which failed) Greco stood next to him along with Anita Hill of Blue Cross.

She had been president of Corestates Financial and sits on several corporate Boards including Excelon and Sunoco.  She worked very hard to protect corporate health care interests and prevent Pennsylvanians from accessing health care through the Family and Business Healthcare Security Act.  She will not be missed.

Mankind DOOMED!

The great infallible Pope Nazi the 1st says (in his Christmas message of Peace) that mankind needs to be saved from homosexuality and the blurring of genders as much as from the destruction of the rainforest and the environment. Claiming that failure to do so could lead to the extinction of the human race.

Personally, and this shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone, I think the Pope is full of Poop. Never one to let something like genetic reality get in the way, this dogma has been position of the church for years.

However, to use the Christmas message, (traditionally a message of peace and a request for the world to come together), as a bludgeon to beat gays and transgendered people into ungodly submission is disgusting.

How logical is it that gay people are going to lead to “the destruction of mankind”? How absolutely ludicrous is that line of “logic”? Gay folks have been around since before the Catholic Church even existed and mankind is doind just fine thank you very much.

Once again the Pope proves himself to be not only fallible but completely out of touch with reality.

This was not a message of Peace and togetherness, this year the Pope went for a message of division, dismissal, alarm and hate. So much for God’s representative on Earth.

Helen Larson resigns

After heaps of criticism, mounds of doubt, and deserved admonishments from the public, the press, school board members,  educators and others, Helen Larson has done what would have been honorable, had she done it before all but ruining the Wyomissing School District in the process, and resigned, effective February 1st, 2009.  

The story was broke on WFMZ.com  as breaking news.  

However, the only breaking part of it really is the final culmination of the wave of subterfuge that built up behind her and followed its course to the eventual consequence.  I pray the school board will have the sense to be very deliberate and thorough in vetting their next selection for superintendent.  

The children of the district are depending on it and the parents of those children deserve it, as do those without children who financially support the district’s mission of education.

Supreme Court Rules Against State on Electronic Voting Machines

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court ruled that challenges to the touch screen electronic voting machines can proceed.  The action was taken against Secretary of State Pedro Cortes, a Rendell appointee who has tried to block every reform effort to prevent the use of computer voting machines in the Commonwealth.

Electronic voting machines produce no auditable trail and no safeguards to assure that they count votes as cast.  They have been proven to be easily programmable and unreliable.  No one but the manufacturer has access to the source code used to operate the computer system.  It is impossible to do a recount on these voting machines and no way to know if they were reprogrammed to switch votes.

Pedro Cortes has been a particularly rigid opponent of reform.  He has fought reform efforts for clean elections since his appointment by Ed Rendell.  The Rendell Administration has been quite obstinate about not allowing voters the assurance that their most fundamental right as citizens is protected.  The Supreme Court action enables those fighting for open and honest elections continued access to the courts to eliminate these menaces to democracy.

Cheney Has Blago Syndrome

Rod Blagojevich continues to accept that he’s a crook, has done little, likely, that is legal, and steadfastly clings to his illusions that he’ll be vindicated.  It is a case of classic denial and one we saw again yesterday from the Vice President.  Dick Cheney, he of the approval ratings in Blago territory himself, denies his place in history after running the country, and, indeed, the world into the sewer.

Cheney, according to “Angler,” used his authority as head of the Bush Transition Team to insert his people into key positions all through the new Administration in 2001.  He was the man responsible for the terrible track record of the past eight years from Iraq to Guantanamo, to torture, wiretapping Americans, examining anyone’s banking records without warrants to the authority to arrest anyone and hold them without charges or trials indefinitely.

Dick Cheney, as Joe Biden clearly articulated in his interview yesterday is the most dangerous VP in our history.  Cheney took issue with the accusation and continues trying to defend the indefensible.  He even maintains the President has the right to launch a nuclear first strike without consent of Congress or advice from anyone.  It is time Dick Cheney read the constitution.  At least what’s left of it following his eight year shredding of the Bill of Rights.

Cheney ran the Bush Administration due to an incurious George who refused to tolerate dissent or disagreement among his staff.  Used mostly as a figurehead who was sent flying around the country on photo op junkets while Cheney ran the actual governance, Bush never had a devil’s advocate in his White House.  He didn’t need one with the personification of the devil running everything in his absence.

We saw a stark contrast in these two men and two Vice Presidents in yesterday’s interviews.  It is why tens of millions of Americans and the entire world worked to bring change this year.  The best Christmas present of all this year is the disappearance of Dick Cheney from history.  Perhaps next year will see him hauled before a court to attone for his war crimes and he and Blago can both be taught a lesson in reality and truth and consequences.

One Leg Raised on the Bush-Cheney Legacy: Deconstructing the Spin and Propaganda

One Leg Raised on the Bush-Cheney Legacy:

Deconstructing the Spin and Propaganda

by Walter Brasch

           The chairman of the Republican National Committee may have begun an irreversible descent into a future as a fear-bound paranoid victim of functional amnesia, possibly caused by a hysterical post-traumatic event such as the overwhelming victory of Democrats in the 2008 election and the nation’s repudiation of Republican policies.

           In a two-page vitriol-loaded letter dated “Friday morning”-he apparently was unable to remember the exact date-Robert M. (Mike) Duncan, RNC chairman, told Americans that the Democrats plan to “impose their radical leftist agenda on America,” and that Republicans “must work vigilantly to guard our country’s freedoms from the inevitable assault [by Democrats] they will face.” He didn’t mention that not one of Barack Obama’s proposed cabinet members nor any of the members of the current Congress is a “radical leftist.”

           It’s really sad that Mike forgot that fear-mongering, obstruction of justice, reduction of public information, distrust and resentment of the worker, and curtailment of civil liberties-with the complicity of millions of Americans and much of the Democratic leadership who willingly crumpled under Neocon assaults-have been the base of the Bush-Cheney Administration and a Republican-dominated Congress for most of the past eight years. Perhaps I can shock what little memory Mike may have left in the hope that some of his brain cells may once again function.  

 It was the Republicans, not the Democrats, who systematically violated the Constitution, while screaming “The terrorists are coming! The terrorists are coming!” There isn’t enough space in one column to enumerate all the constitutional abuses, but here’s a starter package:

           ? The Bush-Cheney Administration, and their Republican supporters, stands convicted in federal courts of suppressing constitutional rights of free expression (First Amendment), unreasonable searches and the right of privacy (Fourth Amendment), right against self-incrimination (Fifth Amendment), due process (Sixth Amendment), of invoking reasonable bail and freedom from cruel and unusual punishment (Eighth Amendment), and the equal protection guarantee for both citizens and non-citizens (Fourteenth Amendment.) The conservative-leaning Supreme Court has also ruled that the Administration violated the habeas corpus clause (Article I, Section 9, Clause 2) of the Constitution, which guarantees the right of prisoners to challenge why they are incarcerated. That clause guarantees against arbitrary and capricious imprisonment.

           ? The acronym-happy Bush-Cheney Administration and not the Democrats created several programs-including MATRIX, TIPS, TIAP, TTIC, TALON, and CAPPS II, among others-to spy upon Americans, and curtail their constitutionally-mandated rights of due process and protections against invasion of privacy.

           ?Under a massive plan prepared in the White House, Americans have been arrested for peacefully protesting. Non-violent organizations, including Greenpeace, the Quakers and Veterans for Peace, were the subject of governmental spying and labeled as terrorist organizations.

           ? The Republicans, not the Democrats, accepted and encouraged the use of torture and kidnapping in violation of numerous international treaties.

           ? The President willfully and deliberately violated the Posse Comitatus Act  that prohibits the military from enforcing civilian law.

           But, wait, just as in a paid telemarketing pitch, there’s more that we need to deconstruct:

“We will . . . continue to stand for . . . strong national security. . . .”

           Perhaps it was too long ago for Mike to remember that the President and Attorney General early in 2001 refused to fund the FBI’s request for additional funds for counter-terrorism surveillance. A few months later, George W. Bush and his senior advisors didn’t pay much attention to a Presidential Daily Briefing report titled, “Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside U.S.” A month later, al-Qaeda attacked the United States.

           During the next couple of years, the Bush-Cheney Administration launched a propaganda campaign to whip American frenzy into attacking Iraq, which not only had no ties to bin Laden and al-Qaeda but didn’t have weapons of mass destruction. Bush, Dick Cheney, and six other top officials lied 935 times about national security issues in the two years following 9/11, according to an analysis by the impartial Center for Public Integrity. During the past seven years, the President and Vice-President obstructed legal and legitimate investigations into the attacks of 9/11.

           During the war in Iraq, which left Afghanistan, home of al-Qaeda, almost a minor afterthought, the Bush-Cheney Administration and their legions of supporters preached a doctrine of supporting the troops as a back-door way to get Americans to pledge loyalty to the Administration. But, it was this Administration that opposed pay raises for combat troops, and failed to provide adequate body and vehicle armor or adequate medical and psychological care.

           “Democrats are salivating over their opportunity to remake American government. From socialized medicine . . . .”

           Apparently, Mike doesn’t know that Medicare, health care for all active duty military, veterans, members of Congress, and even the executive branch is a socialistic system. He may be upset that the Democratic leaders also want to give adequate health care to more than 45.7 million Americans, most of whom can’t afford health insurance.

” . . . and new entitlements to massive tax increases and out of control federal spending . . .”

           Would that “out of control federal spending” include trying to recover from the $438 billion deficit and an $11 trillion debt, largest in American history, that the Republican president is leaving the nation, after inheriting a balanced budget and a $236 billion surplus at the end of President Clinton’s term?

           Mike apparently has no memory of the massive financial fraud and overbilling in Iraq and Katrina recovery, and then the Bush-Cheney Administration extending immunity to those Republican-owned businesses. Anything the Obama Administration does won’t even come close to what the tax-and-spend Republicans burdened Americans with the past eight years.

           And speaking of overspending-does anyone know anyone from the Democratic National Committee who authorized any of their candidates to spend more than $200,000 on clothes and makeup during the final two months of a presidential campaign, and then lie to the people that this was only “on loan” and would be “donated” after the election? Anyone want a used tube of lipstick?

“. . . they are reaching back for their old playlist  of nanny-state interference and lessened personal freedom.”

           Perhaps it was a Republican reaction to “nanny-state interference” that led the Bush-Cheney Administration to decimate the Federal Emergency Management Agency, and fail to adequately respond to the Katrina disaster.

           Maybe it was the Republican reaction to be labeled as a “nanny-state” government that caused the Bush-Cheney Administration to cut funding for education, food stamps, Medicaid, and student loans, while not touching pork barrel funding.

           Just whose political party was it that lessened personal freedoms of choice by executive orders that public schools must teach abstinence-only education in order to receive federal funding? And what kind of “personal freedom” is at stake when the President rushes through a late-term order that anyone who works in a hospital may refuse to assist any woman who requests an abortion? This sweeping rule apparently applies even to a janitor who can refuse to clean the room of a woman who has a medical or psychological reason for an abortion.

           Because Mike is a banker and lawyer, he may not have had a chance to socialize with the underclass and America’s invisible minorities. Perhaps he is unaware (or just forgot) that 12.5 percent of all Americans, about 37.3 million according to the Census Bureau, are living in poverty. He probably doesn’t even notice, or maybe doesn’t care, about the 3.5 million Americans who were homeless this year. Perhaps he doesn’t think the “nanny-care” government he excoriates and the “support the troops” party he believes he is a part of should even deal with the half-million veterans who are homeless. He may not be aware that, primarily because of an economic meltdown caused by greed and ineffective federal regulation, 1.1 million Americans filed for bankruptcy in 2008, about 33 percent higher than 2007, or that about 9 percent of all home mortgages are in default. He may not care that 6.7 percent of the workforce, about 10.3 million Americans, are unemployed, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Maybe Mike and the RNC want to eliminate any federal program, including massive jobs creation programs proposed by President-Elect Barack Obama, which assists those Americans from having the “personal freedom” from sinking even further into poverty.  

           Of course, Mike and his RNC minions have been silent about corporate welfare, most of which goes to Republican-owned business. Although the federal government provides about $75 billion to individuals in various forms of assistance, during the 2006 fiscal year it gave private enterprise about $92 billion in direct and indirect subsidies, according to the independent Cato Institute; private enterprise received another $40-50 billion from state and local governments. . Not included is the recent $700 billion bailout to corporate incompetence and greed.

“Just as the liberal mainstream media aided the Democrats . .  .”

           Would that be the liberal media that for years failed to question just about anything the Bush-Cheney Administration said? The media that stood silent as one constitutional amendment after another was stomped on by the Bush-Cheney Administration? Would that include the New York Times and Washington Post that finally admitted they failed to do their jobs by not challenging the President on his claims that America was invading Iraq in order to remove non-existent weapons of mass destruction? That liberal media?

[The media] will obscure the radical nature of the Democrats’ proposed legislation for benefiting unions. . . .”

           Disregarding the fact that Mike is a banker/lawyer and expected to say nasty things against the working class, it certainly wasn’t the Democrats who spent eight years trying to destroy unions by emasculating the National Labor Relations Board, reducing the effectiveness of the Department of Labor, and launching a fusillade of attacks upon the American worker. Restraining worker abuse apparently isn’t part of any Republican program.

“. . .  shaking down businesses. . . .”

           It most certainly wasn’t the Democrats who removed regulatory protections for Americans and led the nation into the abyss of subprime lending and massive Wall Street greed that helped launch the nation’s worst recession in 70 years. Apparently, any regulation for the public good is, in Republican views, “shaking down businesses.”

“. . .  limiting free speech . . . ”

           Not only does Mike have amnesia, he’s delusional if he believes it’ll be the Democrats who have plans to restrict free speech. As a reminder, it was the Republicans, not the Democrats, who created the unconstitutional free speech zones to restrict any dissent to as much as a mile away from the President and Vice-president. It was the Republicans, not the Democrats, who pushed for even greater restrictions upon freedom of speech, religion, the press, the right to assemble, and most important the right to petition government for a redress of grievances. It was the Republicans, not the Democrats, who willfully, maliciously, and illegally blocked innumerable Freedom of Information requests. In the arrogant and illogical world of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and the Republican National Committee leadership, Thomas Jefferson and the Founding Fathers are merely Old Codgers who don’t understand that the Constitution is now “quaint.”

” . . . and imposing questionable environmental restrictions. ”

           It wasn’t those pesky liberals who thought global warming was a hoax, and who pulled the United States out of the Kyoto Protocol, signed by 37 industrialized nations, that would lead to stabilization of greenhouse gases. It certainly wasn’t the Democrats who removed anti-pollution restrictions from corporate America, weakened the Clean Water and Clean Air acts, cut funding for toxic waste cleanups, yielded to corporate influence to allow logging and mining in national forests, strip mining in the Appalachians and then left residue in formerly clean rivers.

           Apparently, such regulations as the Endangered Species Act, approved by the Nixon Administration in 1973 and gutted by the Republicans during the past eight years, is among the “questionable governmental restrictions” that annoy Mike and the RNC. As a result of Bush-Cheney policies, dozens of species are now extinct; 20,000 polar bears are threatened by global warming because the Administration wants to encourage even further gas and oil exploration in the already diminished arctic sea ice. In the Northern Rockies, 1,500 gray wolves were taken off the list of endangered and threatened species, leading to indiscriminate and unregulated killing until federal courts reversed the orders; and just about anyone in Alaska has the “right” to kill wolves, even from the air.

           The “imposition of questionable environmental restrictions” that scare the RNC might include protection of the nation’s wild horses and burros, symbols of America’s independence. Under the Republican leadership, influenced by the cattle industry, 4.1 million head of cattle graze upon public lands, but the Pinocchio Department of the Interior believes it has a divine mission to slaughter most of the 32,000 wild horses and burros because it claims there’s not enough room for them, and they could starve from lack of natural resources.

           Perhaps Mike and the RNC are upset that the Obama Administration may establish “questionable environmental restrictions” to reverse newly-enacted policies that allow trophy hunters to kill and import into the U.S. endangered species from other countries.

           Apparently, Mike and the RNC actually believe that a free enterprise system of environmental destruction with minimal oversight is the American Way.

“I’m proud of the honorable campaigns our candidates ran . . .”

           While John McCain and most Republicans conducted honorable campaigns, did Mike even attend a Sarah Palin rally? Was he so concentrating upon strategy that he didn’t hear her say that Obama “pals around with terrorists” or her ultra-right followers at every rally bleating out racial, ethnic, and religious slurs.

“America remains a center-right country.”

            Not only is Mike forgetful and delusional, he’s also mathematically-challenged. Barack Obama won in the Electoral College by a near landslide 365-173, and a popular vote of 52 percent to John McCain’s 46 percent, a higher winning percentage than George W. Bush had in 2004 when he haughtily claimed he had a “mandate” from the people. Maybe Mike doesn’t understand that 59 percent of the 2009-2011 House (257-178) are Democrats, 21 more Democrats than two years ago; or that at least 58 of 100 Senators (one race is still being determined) are Democrats, nine more than two years ago. Maybe if Mike closed his eyes tightly and wished upon the nearest oil rig America could still be a “center-right” country.

           Nevertheless, misleading statistics, hyperbole, and propaganda aside, Mike’s real purpose of the letter was to energize the Republican base to send money to Washington to “ensure that our Party has the funding it needs to hold the Democrats accountable to the American people.” Accountability is a real nice word. It’s something the Republicans didn’t have the past few years. Just about the only thing the Administration did say for most of its term-for any issue-was, “We’re at war, we know best, and if you question what we say and what we do you’re giving aid and comfort to the enemy.”

           The American public in 2008 no longer bought into a campaign of fear, intimidation, and harassment, and lies. They said loudly and clearly they wanted an end to the nightmare of the past eight years. They wanted hope; they demanded change.

[For a more complete look at the Bush-Cheney Administration and its effect upon Americans, read Dr. Brasch’s critically-acclaimed books America’s Unpatriotic Acts: The Federal Government’s Violation of Constitutional and Civil Rights (2004); ‘Unacceptable’: The Federal Government’s Response to Hurricane Katrina (2006); and the 560-page Sinking the Ship of State: The Presidency of George W. Bush (2008). All books are available at amazon.com, and most bookstores. You may contact Dr. Brasch through his website, www.walterbrasch.com, or by e-mail at brasch@bloomu.edu]

 

Republicans Choose Argall

The special election to select the late Jim Rhoades’ successor will have Rep. Dave Argall square off against Schuylkill County Clerk of Courts Steve Lukash.  The final vote by Democratic County Committees is not yet complete but no other Democrat has stepped forward to seek the nomination.  Several county committees have already voted as a whole to support Lukash.

The assumption among many was that nepotism would rule the day in the GOP process but Dave Argall proved them wrong.  Chris Hobbs, Rhoades’ son in law assumed he would inherit the seat but others thought differently.  He gave no compelling reason for Republicans to support him over the other five candidates.

State of the Blog

Unfortunately I saw this week where Above Average Jane has gone on hiatus.  Due to some health issues she has suspended her blog after four years.  That’s a long time to write continuously, do research (and she does quite a bit of that), cover events and write.

I’ve been at this since May 10, 2006 excepting those few months last spring when my blogs were shut down by an irate reader.  I’ve missed a few days since then because I simply don’t have the same devotion I had before Carol Wentz and the Democratic Party came after me.  I used to spend 8-10 hours a day researching, writing and covering events.  Now that has diminished considerably due to the drastic decline in readership caused by our forced hiatus and move to SoapBlox.

I think a state of the blog review periodically is good.  We now have 96 registered users and the requirement that all commenters use a valid email address has been positive.  It keeps the riff raff who simply want to make hit and run accusations think twice since they must use a real email account.

When I set up the blog I disallowed the comment rating system commonly used by other SoapBlox blogs such as DailyKos.   This allows regular contributors to collect “mojo” and become trusted users.  I declined to incorporate it because I think it leads to a collective echo chamber mentality.  What do readers think about allowing this?  Would that increase your involvement and participation or lead to a similar echo chamber situation where dissent isn’t tolerated?

I have been disappointed more people aren’t using the diary section.  This allows any registered user (after 3 days) to write anything they wish to the blog.  Essentially it means anyone can write here on any topic they wish.  Other readers can recommend the diaries they think are well done and I can promote them to front page status as I have done numerous times.

Overall I’m very happy with the platform but wish moving hadn’t cost us most of our readership.  It took two years to gain the prominence we attained and then one person pulled it out in one fell swoop.  I confess it has been hard to commit the same time, money and resources to the blog since, mostly due to the decline in readership.

Creating Jobs

One of the major points discussed by Republicans at Wednesday’s 29th Senatorial District candidate’s debate was the issue of government creating jobs.  Everyone there (except me) agreed that government should not create jobs.  Several said government CANNOT create jobs.  The general attitude was that creating jobs is the job of the private sector.

These assumptions and beliefs are wrong.  This is part of what leads to privatization (which actually is government creating jobs) and stagnates our economy, weakens our national defense and curbs growth.

Of course government can create jobs.  The Defense appropriations bill every year is loaded with hundreds of billions of dollars for projects developed and built by the military/industrial complex.  It is a huge jobs creation program.  The development of the internet by government has created millions of jobs.  Government also creates jobs through selective taxation, rewarding those creating jobs, punishing those who outsource them (soon to come), and providing incentives to develop new industries such as green energy.

Job creation is essential to our economy and is a fundamental need cited bu voters each election year.  Elective officials are expected to bring new jobs into their areas, this is a fundamental responsibility of government.  Only rigid, stupid ideologues can claim it isn’t.  Only morons can claim government cannot create jobs.

During the Great Depression FDR created several major jobs programs.  Unemployment rates hitting 25%, meaning one of every four Americans was out of work, gave millions of people hope, income and respectability.  It also built roads, bridges, Hoover Dam and numerous other valuable projects including parks.  It helped save our national economy by creating jobs.  

President Obama will do the same now to save our economy from sinking into a new depression caused by failed Republican economic ideologies.  I was amazed that these people continue to cling to their myths and claims in spite of overwhelming evidence that they’re wrong.

A refusal to allow government to create jobs would severely weaken our national defense.  This would mean no American company could build our military equipment and systems.  Every one of those jobs is one created by the federal government.  The Defense budget has doubled under George W. Bush.  Every Army soldier, Navy sailor, Air Force flyer and Coast Guardsman is a government created job.  Do Republicans argue we must disband our military and outsource all Defense related industry to foreign powers?  That IS their logic.  You cannot claim government cannot or should not create jobs and cling to these contradictory concepts too.