Random Thoughts

It appears Rep. Bob Mensch won yesterday’s State Senate special election.  Republicans made this a special election so as to suppress the turnout for their candidate.  Democrats had difficulty finding someone to run and the results show why.Mensch got 66% of the vote.

CNN is reporting this morning on a Connecticut blogger arrested because authorities didn’t like what he wrote about the Governor.  Their reporting cites “Fusion Centers” gathering intelligence based on the threats to our civil liberties introduced by George W. Bush after 9/11.  Come after me and you’ll get sued too.  This is scary and only a few civil rights lawsuits will get things back to constitutionality.

Numerous people are insisting that film director Roman Polanski be freed after being arrested in Switzerland.  Wake up folks, he raped a 13 year old girl.

RNC Chairman Michael Steele appeared on CNN this morning and answered a question about the scary level of violent rhetoric by slamming the man giving the warning instead of the nu jobs making all the threats.  No wonder voters are tuning out Republicans.  Steele wouldn’t even answer an innocuous question about the Olympics for crying out loud.

There are various videos surfacing on YouTube about the level of police brutality in Pittsburgh during the G20 summit.  This doesn’t bode well for Dan Onorato as these videos will see widespread use on this blog during next year’s Gubernatorial primary.  I heard the police even shot tear gas at residents standing on their own balcony doing nothing more than observing the violence against protesters.

In this video you can hear the police saying “no matter what your purpose is you must disperse.”  As I recall our First Amendment gives these protesters constitutionally guaranteed rights to assemble and speak.  I saw little of this on U.S. mainstream news sources.

In this CNN report their own reporter got gassed.  You can hear the police declaring it “an unlawful assembly.”  

Do we really want Dan Onorato running Pennsylvania after watching how he violated constitutional rights in Pittsburgh last week?

Senate Rejects Public Option

The Senate Finance Committee voted against putting a public option in their Health Insurance Profit Enhancement and Protection Act today by a vote of 8-15.  I can’t believe the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has the balls to actually call people asking for contributions when Senate Democrats are doing horrendous votes like this.  Don’t give a dime folks.  Contribute to your local Senate campaign instead.

Without a public option the Senate health care bill must be defeated.  Forcing every person to buy insurance from corporate murderers is insane.

News & Notes

Sen. Chris Dodd is joining other Senators in rolling back the most nefarious aspects of the Bush years.  Russ Feingold and others have already introduced legislation regarding the PATRIOT Act and other evils and now Dodd is trying to roll back the awful FISA law allowing unconstitutional warrantless wiretapping of Americans.  His bill would revoke the immunity for the telecommunications companies which violated our Fourth Amendment rights.

Speaking of Senators I got a phone call from the DSCC this morning.  Boy did they get an earful.

With all the controversy over ACORN and the videos done and edited by an actor and a blogger what they haven’t told you is interesting.  First they have received considerable funding from very questionable sources in spite of their denials.  Secondly they didn’t tell you about the ACORN offices they visited where their conduct resulted in calls to the police.

State legislators return to Harrisburg to thrash out the final details on the budget.  Josh Shapiro posted on his Facebook page that he wants to eliminate WAM’s.  This is the “walking around money” which Reps and Senators dole out to their local favorites.  If there isn’t money for libraries and other important services there isn’t any for WAM’s either.  Kudos go to Josh once again.

The Senate Finance Committee is voting today on the public option.  Sen. Rockefeller called the Baucus bill The Insurance Industry Profit Protection and Enhancement Act.”  How true!

Today is election day in the 24th District.  This will fill the vacancy created by Rob Wonderling’s resignation.  Bob Mensch is running against Democrat Anne Scheuring.

NJ, VA Guv Races Tightening

On a DGA (Democratic Governor’s Association) conference call Monday John Brougher said polls in both New Jersey and Virginia show tossups five weeks before election day.  The GOP has targeted both races for crucial wins going into next year’s Congressional and state races.  2010 sees 37 Governerships up for grabs and the DGA has targeted quite a few for pick up.  They will not favor any of the Pennsylvanians running in the five way Democratic primary.  The DGA does intend to be active here in the general election however.

Election polls in New Jersey are famously inaccurate and always seem to undercount Democratic voters and turnout.  If that holds Jon Corzine should win re-election.  Chris Christie’s negatives now are larger than his favorable ratings as Jerseans learn more about his ethical lapses as U.S. Attorney.  In Virginia Bob McDonnell’s infamous comments from his master’s thesis are haunting him with women voters.  Though he continues trying to claim the extremist views about working women and contraception are part of his past he tried to enact them into law while serving as a state legislator.

Governorships are particularly important going into the 2010 census and redistricting.  One advantage for Pennsylvania and the Northeast is that fewer residents are moving south and southwest due to the Republican economic meltdown so we may lose fewer Congressional seats.  Still, state legislatures will redraw districts and the Governors can have a significant influence on the outcomes.  State Supreme Courts will have the final answers on whether gerrymandered districts are legal so do NOT forget to vote for Jack Panella November 3rd.

Reading Passes LGBT Non Discrimination Ordinance

Reading City Council passed a new LGBT inclusive non discrimination ordinance by a vote of 6-1 this evening.  It protects gays, lesbians, bisexuals and transgenders from bigotry based on gender identity or expression.  Voting for the bill were sponsor Maria Baez, Councilwoman Marcia Goodman-Hinnershitz, Councilmen Dennis Sterner, Jeff Waltman, Stratton Marmarou and Council President Vaughn Spencer.  Only reactionary Republican Councilman Steve Fuhs spoke and voted against the community.

Fuhs always speaks from ignorance on these issues. Tonight he claimed, repeatedly, that sexual orientation is a choice.  I’ve never met any LGBT person who chose their orientation.  I know I didn’t and I challenge Mr. Fuhs to tell me he consciously chose his to be a heterosexual.  Choices are very different, perhaps such as choosing to ignore Pennsylvania campaign finance law or choosing to misquote statistics on universal health care in Canada.

We thank the six Council members and Mayor Tom McMahon for their support of our community on this important issue.  Reading becomes the 16th community in Pennsylvania to add non discrimination protection to our community.  Now it is up to the state legislature to protect ALL Pennsylvanians from housing, employment and public accommodations discrimination.  None of us are free until all of us are free.

CNN Poll

CNN has as its daily poll the question:  “What makes you angriest?”  Their choices are

1.  Washington’s lack of accountabilty

2.  Lack of respect in the workplace

3.  Hollywood’s cultural consciousness

4.  None of the above

What makes me angriest IS Washington’s accountability.  They are accountable to those who put them in power:  their powerful financial backers and it to them that they are held accountable.  This is what makes me angriest:  they aren’t accountable to us, the people.

CNN got their poll woefully wrong.  Someone didn’t think this through very well.  Accountability is to those to whom these people are indebted.  Folks, that isn’t you and me.  Max Baucus is the shining example.

A Whirlwind September

( – promoted by John Morgan)

It is hard to believe that 25 days have already passed since the Pennsylvania Democratic Party nominated me to the open fourth spot on the November 3rd ballot for Judge of the Superior Court of Pennsylvania. Since then I have been running around our fine state trying to meet as many voters as possible.  I was only given 65 days between my nomination and the General Election in which to get the message out, but November 3rd IS my birthday, and I’m hoping that will bring me some good karma!

Some of you may remember me from earlier this year, when I considered running for the Supreme Court.  While I had a lot of support from progressives across Pennsylvania, I came to believe that a primary campaign between Judge Jack Panella and me would badly harm the winner’s chances of victory in November.  In such a critical election, in which control of the Supreme Court is up for grabs, I felt we as a party could not afford a primary battle, and I withdrew from that race in favor of Judge Panella.

More than 6 months later, I unexpectedly had the opportunity to stand for nomination for the seat on the Superior Court created by Judge Maureen Lally-Green’s resignation. I was thrilled to be able to join a great Democratic ticket with Judge Panella, my fellow Superior Court candidates Judges Bob Colville and Anne Lazarus, and Assistant District Attorney Kevin McCarthy, and Commonwealth Court candidates Barbara Ernsberger & Linda Judson.

The state committee meeting at which I was added to the ballot was an exciting time for my husband Mark Tratenberg and me. Each of our prospective Democratic candidates for Governor next year spoke at the picnic on Friday and Senator Specter and Congressman Sestak were on hand as well. All of the state committee people in attendance were revved up and ready to go for the judicial elections this fall and the intense season of politicking we have in store for us next year as well. With a group of activists as intense and excited as those I met and our new and impressive voter registration advantage, I am truly optimistic about our party’s and our ticket’s prospects this fall.

However, I know that I especially, having such little time to campaign, have to work diligently to meet as many voters and get to as many parades, picnics, and potlucks as I can.  Which is why, right after state committee ended, I made my way out to the Cumberland County Democrats picnic later that day.  Even on a Sunday afternoon at the end of August when most people are on vacation, the Cumberland Dems had a great turnout and even local press.  I am always impressed by the kinds of questions I am asked at these local party events – many of our party’s grassroots activists are very well versed in the role of the courts and their judges.

Since that weekend back at the end of August I have been to more local events than I can count, but I realize that there is no way I can meet everyone I need to before Election Day.  That is why I’ll be writing these diaries periodically throughout the campaign – to let you all know what I am doing to make sure we elect Democratic judges this fall, and so that even if I don’t meet you at the next candidates’ night I attend you can learn a little bit about me and my campaign for Superior Court.

Don’t worry, I promise to keep my future diaries shorter! I think next time I’ll talk about the great time I had over Labor Day weekend with all of the hard working men and women of the labor movement that represent what makes our party truly great.

Anti-Choice Non Profit Admits Making Offensive ObamaCare Signs

Remember those awful, hate filled signs carried at the Tea Baggers rally in Washington?  They said to bury ObamaCare with Teddy?  Americans overwhelmingly found them tasteless, offensive and crude.  Of course these were Tea Baggers so we expect them to be tasteless, offensive and crude.  One major difference with these signs was that they were grammatically correct because they had been printed.  We now know the American Life League paid for the signs and distributed them at the event.  A hat tip goes to reader Kim Kline for foraging this information from the American Life league:

From: Michael Hichborn

Subject: re: general inquiries

Date: Friday, September 25, 2009, 10:09 PM

Yes, American Life League printed and distributed those signs along with another which read, “Liberty and Life.”  The sign was a reference to Ted Kennedy, but not as a means of “dancing on his grave,” as has been so frequently portrayed..  It was a recognition that Ted Kennedy was the primary promoter of the current health care reform undertaken by President Barack Obama.  Have you ever heard the phrase, “Let his ideas die with him?”  Ted Kennedy was a staunch supporter of abortion, even the abominable partial-birth abortion.  The current health care plans being debated all include provisions for abortion, euthanasia, and birth control … all of which were supported by Ted Kennedy.  So, the idea of the sign was to recognize that as Ted Kennedy had recently passed away, so should his brand of pro-abortion, pro-euthanasia, pro-birth-control health care reform.

And, just to be clear, the idea for the sign only came as a reaction to the Democrat calls to rally Health Care Reform around Sen. Kennedy’s death, even going so far as to consider calling it “Teddy Care.”


American Life league (ALL) represents itself as a protector of life yet these mock the death of one of the country’s most famous and accomplished Senators shortly after his death.  They want to help kill the 45,000 Americans who die each year due to a lack of health care.  So much for being “pro life.”  The problem with these “pro life” people is that they only care about this issue until birth.  Then they are “pro death.”  They don’t care at all about women and mothers who die in child birth needlessly.  They don’t care about the women who die needlessly if safe, legal abortion isn’t available.  They don’t care about the orphans left behind.

The signs they distributed in DC were horrendously callous.  To promote the passing of another Kennedy brother who dedicated himself to public service directly after his death did more harm than good to their cause.  

Callahan to Hit $250K Mark

Charlie Dent has a serious opponent next year and John Callahan is proving to be the candidate the Lehigh Valley has needed.  With the end of the reporting quarter nearing Mayor Callahan is approaching $250,000 raised.  Since he wasn’t a candidate until about midway through the quarter this is a significant amount of money.  Heck, for the 15th CD this is a significant amount for an entire election cycle.  Charlie Dertinger ran a very competitive campaign against Dent with only $68,000.  John Callahan has already dwarfed that sum and is on pace to mount the most serious challenge to any Republican incumbent in the state.

It didn’t help Charlie Dent that Commerce Secretary Gary Locke was in Bethlehem singing Callahan’s praises while granting Ben Franklin Technology Partners with $6 million from a program Dent voted against.

Hope Versus Hate

We’re seeing an epic struggle between the forces of Hope and the forces of Hate.  This began last year when Hope was the main message of Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.  We witnessed the hatred unleashed against him as an African American seeking the highest office in the land.  Read any online board and you can see the thousands, nee, millions, of racist statements and threats being made against the President.  The tea baggers are so full of rage and hatred as to be very scary.  The culture of Hate and violence is having effects already as a census worker was hanged last week and the word “fed” was written on his chest.

These Hate mongers are making every little matter incendiary.  Obama cannot even urge school children to study without being demonized.  The census cannot be performed without extremists objecting to poor citizens being included.  Violent extremism always results in violence.  Ordinary whackos seem empowered when they hear leaders calling for violence and fuel Hate.  We see this every time gays and lesbians are used as political pawns and real people are victimized.  Every time a gay marriage amendment comes up and our community is targeted violence against gays and lesbians increases dramatically.  There are direct connections between levels of hate speech and violence.

The conspiracy theories abounding from the forces of Hate have already killed three police officers in Pittsburgh this year.  Gun nuts believe that the President is going to come and confiscate all their weapons.  They are stocking up on ammunition and guns like mad.  They are mad.  They are angry, insane and off their medication.  Of course the corporate manufacturers of these products love the upswing in business and will perpetuate these myths as long as possible.

As we see gun nuts fortified by the forces of Hate appear outside presidential events openly carrying rifles, hand guns and even semi automatic weapons the potential for violence increases.  I’ve been at these events and got fearful enough for the potential of violence that I left.  This was before the tea baggers decided these were opportunities to show off their gun collections.  The anti-government hate mongers don’t need more than a match to set them off.

Meanwhile we have the President continue trying to preach a message of Hope.  The positive statements coming from the positive side are being drowned out by the opposing forces.  It is important for the forces of Hope to be at all these events with messages of Hope, Unity, and Progress.  The progressive community needs to take lessons from the gay community about dealing with the forces of Hate.  Silent Witness is an organization which isolates and ignores the forces of Hate which always appear at GLBT events.  Rather than confront them Silent Witnesses hold hands around these hate mongers and sometimes hold angel wings or shrouds so they cannot be seen.  Acknowledging the Hate mongers gives them power.  Ignoring them emasculates them.

The forces of Hope can win.  People want Hope rather than Hate.  The vast majority of people are positive rather than negative.  Messages, images and acts of Hate grow old quickly and the inevitable violence, murder and even assassination, as we witnessed in 1968, is transformational.  America cannot afford another 1968.  We know how to win over the forces of Hate and we must.