Teabagger to Challenge Dent in GOP Primary

Palmer Township resident Mathew Benol will announce his candidacy for the 15th Congressional District this Saturday.  He is challenging incumbent Charlie Dent in the 15th Congressional District.  I sure hope this guy has good hair as that has become a prerequisite for this seat.

Benol is a Teabagger and is taking on Dent from his right wing.

Shareholders Forced Political Spending

by Stephen Crockett, host of Democratic Talk Radio

When we make an investment by buying shares in a corporation are we endorsing the political goals of corporate CEO’s or other corporate executives? For most American citizens, the answer is clearly “NO!”

The recent Supreme Court ruling stating that corporations have the right to spend the shareholders’ money to influence federal elections seems designed to trample on the property rights of individual shareholders, empower the international corporate executive class and distort the electoral process in favor of the pro-corporate Republican Party. It completely fails to protect the property rights of shareholders against politically-motivated abuse by corporate executives.

While the ruling was both bad law and bad for American democracy, as most commentators have stated publicly, few editorialists or pundits have examined how badly the ruling tramples on the property rights of shareholders. I might want to buy shares to fund my retirement or meet unexpected future financial demands. I want my money used in the core missions and functions of the business. I did not invest my money to have it misused by corporate executives to fund their political goals or agenda instead of mine.

Why did this radically activist Supreme Court empower corporate executives to use my money for politics instead of for the legitimate business purposes that are the reasons shareholders bought shares in the first place?  

Every member of Congress should support a new federal law that would require all shareholders agree before any corporate money can be spent to influence elections. This does not violate the premise of the Supreme Court ruling that states (incorrectly in my opinion) that corporations have the right to spend corporate funds on elections. Such a law would not require a Constitutional Amendment.

Shareholders should never be forced to make a political contribution to a candidate or campaign that the individual shareholder does not support. These forced contributions are unjust. In fact, corporate executives who spend corporate funds on influencing elections are frankly stealing from the shareholders.  

Even before the new federal law is passed, shareholders should consider suing any corporate executives who misuse corporate funds to influence election outcomes directly or indirectly. The lawsuits should seek both to injunction the corporation from using shareholders money without universal approval from all shareholders and to fire the corporate executive involved “with cause” so that any “golden parachute” provisions (where more shareholder money gets stolen by executives) might get blocked.

Any officeholder who fails to support a new federal law restricting corporate executive power and empowering individual shareholders to veto spending corporate money on elections is helping in the politically-motivated theft of shareholder property! We need to identify these officeholders regardless of political party and vote them out of office. They are corrupt!

While corporations are not people, shareholders and corporate executives are people. The corporate executives should not overrule shareholders when it comes to political spending of corporate funds. The corporate executives work for the shareholders and never should be legally permitted to forget this basic fact.

Written by: Stephen Crockett (Host of Democratic Talk Radio http://www.DemocraticTalkRadio… ). Mail: 698 Old Baltimore Pike, Newark, Delaware 19702. Phone: 443-907-2367. Email: midsouthcm@aol.com.  

Gubernatorial Debate

I finally got all the 17 video clips downloaded from my Flip camera, edited and uploaded to YouTube.  In between phone calls chasing down the story on the Senate forum it took some time.  When Joe Hoeffel makes references to his long time, consistent record on women’s reproductive rights it is because of another candidates, at least perceived, past record, or lack of a record.  That candidate is Chris Doherty.  Jack Wagner artfully didged that question.  Two of the candidates stated they would support marriage equality.  We are making progress in Pennsylvania.

I thought Joe Hoeffel was the clear progressive winner on issues with Chris Doherty close behind.  Dan Onorato and Jack Wagner have never been progressive and didn’t pretend they were except for Onorato’s repeated use of the word.  I Tweeted that everyone should take a drink every time he said the word “progressive.”  Jack Wagner kept going back to his record as a State Senator so I also Tweeted that as part of the drinking game.  We may as well have some fun too!

It was a good debate, Four good men are running for Governor.  Kudos to the Summit organizers for a great event.  Sen. Specter’s bizarre behavior Saturday should not be what people take away from this weekend.  Watch these videos and enjoy what was a very good debate Friday night.  The moderator is Eileen Connelly of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania.  Mike Morrill of Keystone Progress is at the computer monitoring Twitter for questions and taking questions from the audience on file cards.  That is his son Ben bringing them to the stage.  I asked Ben about his pay rate and working conditions and I’m trying to organize him to get some payment for his work, lol.  In actuality Ben was anxious to help somehow and he did a masterful job collecting the question cards and delivering them to his father.

The candidates, from left to right are Pennsylvania Auditor General Jack Wagner, Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato, Montgomery County Commissioner and former Congressman Joe Hoeffel and Chris Doherty the Mayor of Scranton.  I’ll post just the first video above the fold since I already have a lot of video on the blog’s front page.  Click on “There’s more” for the remainder.  My Flip camera ran out of memory in clip 17 so it ends rather abruptly.  That was just before the closing statements so I wasn’t able to record those and I skipped the opening statements because I knew I would have memory issues.

Sestak Calls Out Specter on “a series of eye-opening gaffs, blunders, and outbursts.”

The Sestak campaign issued another broadside against Sen. Specter’s recent series of what they call “a series of eye-opening gaffs, blunders, and outbursts.”  What I find disturbing is how Arlen is completely misrepresenting his record.  His statement Saturday that his labor voting record is “purer than Ivory Soap” was simply incomprehensible.  Specter’s voting record with the AFL-CIO is 61%.  He simply lied outright before a crowd largely comprised of members and leaders from organized labor.  These people know his record.  Bill George has said several times that a 61% voting record is good for a Republican but bad for a Democrat.

Why on earth would any elected official come before a large constituency and blatantly lie about his record?  Here’s a recpa provided by the Sestak campaign:

Here’s the recap:

1. ‘Act Like a Lady’

Jan. 20, 2010

Arlen Specter reminded voters he hasn’t changed much from his days of attacking Professor Anita Hill’s character on the Senate floor when he lost it during a radio debate with Rep. Michele Bachmann and scolded her in chauvinistic language:

·         “I’ll treat you like a lady. So act like one. … I didn’t interrupt you. Act like a lady!”

2. ‘I Like the Bush Tax Cuts’

Dec. 4, 2009

Arlen Specter cast the deciding vote for the Bush tax cuts that squandered President Clinton’s budget surplus on hundreds of billions in tax giveaways for millionaires, exploded the debt by $6,000 for every man, woman and child in the country, and helped push our economy to the brink of depression. He’d like to see more of it:

FOXNews: Would you be willing to keep the Bush tax cuts because of the economic situation we are in?

SPECTER: Well, I like the tax cuts, and let’s see exactly where we are when they come up.

3. Shutting Down the Senate: the ‘Stuff of Politics’?

Sept. 15, 2009

With the Senate lagging behind on critical legislation, including health care reform, Arlen Specter had Majority Leader Harry Reid shut down the Senate so he wouldn’t miss votes at his $10,000-per-plate fundraiser. But, of course, he had a good excuse. He said at the event:

·         “This is the stuff of politics, and it’s indispensable if we are to stay in office.”

4. Has Specter Lost His Edge?

Aug. 15, 2009

Desperate to repair his standing with labor after denouncing the Employee Free Choice Act as a “bad bill” and promising to filibuster it , Arlen Specter told the AFL-CIO that he had saved the bill and that it would pass in 2009 … which he evidently just made up on the spot to please the crowd:

·         With his strangely wild prediction about the controversial labor reform bill called the Employee Free Choice Act, the word is that Specter was so off-message that he even floored his own Senate and campaign staff. … Was he telling organized labor what they wanted to hear? Does he really know that card-check legislation is probably not going to make it out of committee this year, if ever? Or, as one political pundit pondered, has Specter lost his edge?

5. I Don’t Have to Be Here

Aug. 11, 2009

During the health care town halls in August — when Joe Sestak held 10 town halls (including the first in the country), took questions for more than five hours in Philadelphia, and was the only Democrat to debate a Republican after he challenged Pat Toomey on his own turf — Specter couldn’t even keep it together in front of his own constituents. He lost his temper and insisted that he didn’t have to be there — after all, he wasn’t getting any money for it:

·         “I’m encouraging constitutional rights by coming to Lebanon to talk to my constituents. I could be somewhere else. I don’t get extra pay. I don’t have any requirement to be here.”

6. McCain and Palin Still the ‘Better Choice’

Aug. 4, 2009

If Arlen Specter felt “more at home” with the Democrats, as he now claims, then why didn’t he switch after the excesses, abuses, and failures of the Bush Administration, when Americans across the political spectrum were rallying around Barack Obama and his promise of change?Instead, Specter fundraised and campaigned hard for John McCain and Sarah Palin — and even months after switching parties still said he thought they were the better choice:

·         CHRIS MATTHEWS: You said you wanted, senator, to talk about yourself. Let’s talk about you politically. Last year, you were campaigning with McCain and Palin. Did you vote for them?

·         SPECTER: Yes, sir.

·         MATTHEWS: What do you say now about your choice? Do you think it was a good choice at the time? Seriously, as a voter, as an American, as a Pennsylvanian, do you think they would have been a better choice than what we have now?

·         SPECTER: I thought that they were the better choice.

7. ‘We Divide Up the Bill’

Aug. 2, 2009

Arlen Specter claims he was fighting hard for health care reform. Things might have worked out better if he hadn’t galvanized the Tea Party movement by confessing that he hadn’t bothered to read the bill:

·         “When you have a bill, and we have a lot of them, of 1,000 pages, I take my top staff and we divide up the bill. We have to make judgments very fast …”

8. Which Team am I on, Now?

May 5, 2009

After Specter switched, he was still rooting for Republican Norm Coleman to defeat Democrat Al Franken in the Minnesota recount — and deprive the Democrats of a 60th vote in the Senate:

·         “There’s still time for the Minnesota courts to do justice and declare Norm Coleman the winner.”


According to the New York Times, Specter wasn’t joking. But he did have a good explanation:

·         “In the swirl of moving from one caucus to another, I have to get used to my new teammates.”


Greening the Golden Arches

Cross posted from Nourishing the Planet.

McDonald’s is hoping to change the way consumers view fast food. In partnership with the E-CO2 Project, an independent U.K. consulting firm, the company is launching a three-year study to assess methane production from beef cows in the United Kingdom, as well as ways to reduce livestock production of the greenhouse gas.

A burger joint famous for drive-thru windows and Happy Meals is certainly not the first business that comes to mind when one thinks about environmental sustainability. But with increasing mainstream awareness of the negative consequences of beef production for both human health and the environment, the fast-food giant is looking to reposition itself as leader of green business models.

McDonald’s purchases beef from more than 16,000 British and Irish farmers, who raise their cattle in large feedlots. The methane gas produced by livestock accounts for an estimated 4 percent of the U.K.’s total carbon emissions. McDonald’s hopes that the results of the study will help guide efforts to reduce suppliers’ methane production. The initiative also will likely help “green” the corporation’s image in the minds of an increasingly environmentally conscious public.

Greening the Golden Arches

Cross posted from Nourishing the Planet

McDonald’s is hoping to change the way consumers view fast food. In partnership with the E-CO2 Project, an independent U.K. consulting firm, the company is launching a three-year study to assess methane production from beef cows in the United Kingdom, as well as ways to reduce livestock production of the greenhouse gas.

A burger joint famous for drive-thru windows and Happy Meals is certainly not the first business that comes to mind when one thinks about environmental sustainability. But with increasing mainstream awareness of the negative consequences of beef production for both human health and the environment, the fast-food giant is looking to reposition itself as leader of green business models.

McDonald’s purchases beef from more than 16,000 British and Irish farmers, who raise their cattle in large feedlots. The methane gas produced by livestock accounts for an estimated 4 percent of the U.K.’s total carbon emissions. McDonald’s hopes that the results of the study will help guide efforts to reduce suppliers’ methane production. The initiative also will likely help “green” the corporation’s image in the minds of an increasingly environmentally conscious public.

Open Thread

Welcome to our new registered users.  This past weekend brought an influx of readers to the blog or back to the blog.  I’ll be off to Lebanon soon where County Commissioner Jo Ellen Litz will announce her candidacy for the 48th State Senate seat held by Mike Folmer.  

The video from Friday evening’s Gubernatorial debate is still uploading but should be on YouTube by the time I return.  We’ll have those 17 clips on the blog this afternoon.

Use this thread to discuss whatever you want while I’m out.

Haiti Arrests 10 Americans for Child Trafficking

Ten members of a religious cult in Idaho were arrested in Haiti while attempting to spirit 33 orphans out of the country.  They are members of the New Life Children’s Refuge in Idaho.  They were on a bus trying to cross the Haitian border with the Dominican Republic.  Laura Silsby was on CNN thi smorning claiming she had no idea the children needed identification and permission to leave the country.  Ten of the 33 children have at least one parent and most had phone numbers for their parents.  This appears, to me, to be a fanatical religious group trying to “save” other people’s kids by kidnapping them.  This is what cults do.

How could any responsible adult not know there is a process for adoption of foreign children and that taking children from their natural parents is kidnapping?  Of course she knew exactly what she and her cohorts were doing.  In their minds I believe they thought they could go to Haiti and “bring some children to Jesus.”  Look at the name of their organization for crying out loud.  Here is what the BBC has discovered about this group:

The charity, which Ms Silsby incorporated in Idaho in November last year, says it is “dedicated to rescuing, loving and caring for orphaned, abandoned and impoverished Haitian and Dominican children, demonstrating God’s love and helping each child find healing, hope, joy and new life in Christ”.

They thought they’d go get some children and bring them back to Idaho they could be brainwashed as “christians.”  These people are Southern Baptists, not an organization known for tolerance and understanding. Silsby is the CEO of PersonalShopper.com (isn’t that one of those companies from which I keep getting spam?) and obviously had to have proper documents to go to Haiti.  How did she think she’d spirit 33 children out of the Dominican Republic then into the U.S. without documents?  I suppose she and her cohorts just trusted in Jesus.  I wonder if those who arrested her were named Jesus.

The 2nd Coming of Neighborhoods…

…is here on a much larger scale.  It’s no longer about 5th Street from Chestnut to Spruce up to 6th and down to 4th, but from Reading, PA to Berlin, Germany, to Tokyo, Japan, to Sao Paolo, Brazil, and Ontario, Canada, and we call it among other things, Facebook™, Twitter™, and blogs in general.  

I know so many now just make Facebook™  or other brand name web community or social network sites a part of their daily lives, as a default need for regular functioning in their lives, but apart from the popular culture draw and in addition to the fads of this innovation and trends within the various blogs and sites themselves, I think it important to point out a much deeper and more meaningful significance of all this, which seems to go blithely unnoticed by many, much to their chagrin, detriment, or unfortunate loss of opportunity.  

I am pointing to the significance of brining back together in another, more impactful way, the idea and structure of community and the concept of neighborhoods.  From a cultural geographic perspective, the old schools of migratory studies of persons, traditions, cultures, customs, and other artifacts of humanity in our development and spatial interaction through time has been blown apart and sideways forever because of these social networking sites in their multitude of forms and purposes.  

Buffalo Springfield just came on, and how appropriate, “There’s something happening, here, what it is ain’t exactly clear…”, quite true, but it doesn’t have to be so obscure or loosely understood by the collective throngs of users around the world.  

Some, have grasped the larger concepts of the potential power and significance of these new fangled neighborhoods, but I think many others have not come to get that part of it, and maybe it is because they see this as just one more way to keep in touch with a handful of people they know or trying to “keep up with the Jones’ of technology”, but really it is so incredibly much more than that.  

Companies that advertise and utilize these various social network sites to reach their current and future consumers, understand well the power of getting their products showed to a wider neighborhood all the time and take great pains to make sure that they are ads which people want to see and could actually use in possibly purchasing their service, product, or joining their cause.  

So, ask yourselves, if you don’t already engage in this sort of wider experience to be part of the greater social network neighborhood, what are you either waiting for, or afraid of?  If you say that you might feel silly about what others will say, regarding your views, thoughts, and solutions to things, then you miss the point of the social networking neighborhood idea being all about empowering people to take back their role as the chief point of concern for everything else.  Bringing back the idea of individual, growing the idea of the free thinkers, the rise and resurgence of freedom, liberty, and in some ways, justice, to the social fabric of actual social neighborhoods and our real lives.  

No more, in this day of technology, should the influences and agents of those groups or people, who want to keep a tight hold on the cornerstones of humanity and its development, movement, or ideas, mean much of a damn thing anymore, if they don’t truly honor some basic values of humanity.  The ones that come to mind are, the value of human individuality, the value of freedom, the value of liberty, the value of justice, and the value of balance.  Too much today, in this world, these values have been placed in a dark closet next to a figurative mop of sorts left to collect dust and in their place values that devalue, denigrate, divide, and conquer the individual for the purpose of keeping things neatly labeled, categorized, and adjudicated into classifications, as a means of feeding some blind, ravenous beast, which helped to make all this technology a reality quicker than it might, but which overlooked the serendipitous effect of what this technology could do for the objects of the beast’s own appetite.  Greed is the beast, technology is its servant, but also its master, because it is the beast that even it can’t control, if you and I, and everyone else doesn’t let it, or doesn’t let the select few who want to keep it that way for themselves only.  

Yes, real action is still needed to get things done in a real world sense, but the technology and neighborhood of social networking can enable those actions to take on a greater impact and effect, the same way, conversely, that the rise of greed and concentration of power was helped by these modes of technology.  

Why listen to the spin and rumors and reports of what may well be arguably a biased media, when you can get the news and happenings from people who live there, who are a part of the story, who can give you so much more than any 1 news channel or company can provide or is willing to provide.  This is why countries like China block their people from this sort of thing, because they know what is coming and they are trying like hell to avoid the future and truth and the accountability, and the responsibility that comes with the decisions and plans they’ve made.  China is not alone in this, but serves as a glaring example of it.  

This is also why we have Freedom of Speech as our first and foremost amendment to our Constitution and I pray it never is 2nd place or lost altogether, for that which we like and do not like to here or think well or poorly of; to put that power of expression to rest or restraint unduly, is the greatest mistake we could ever make.

So, join this neighborhood today in its new form somewhere and bring back to life in the new the age old truth and wisdom that comes with a solid, caring, cohesive neighborhood of your fellow citizens of the world.  Through this new way of building neighborhoods we might come to realize again why we should take care of the neighborhoods where we really live as well.

Specter Called Out on Forum Response

During the Senate forum at the Pennsylvania Progressive Summit John Meyerson of UFCW 1776 asked a question of Sen. Arlen Specter concerning the Employee Free Choice Act.  john challenged the Senator on his opposition to the card check provision due to the possibility of “union thuggery.’  Specter claimed he never said anything like that and challenged Mr. Meyerson’s veracity and asked him to prove it on the record.  The union man replied that he would and would apologize to the Senator if he was in error.  Like so much of what Arlen Specter said and claimed last evening he has been fact checked again and failed, again.  From John Meyerson:

Attached please find a copy of Senator Specter’s remarks on the floor of the United States senate, announcing his decision not to support the employee free choice act. While he did not call labor organizers thugs, he did accuse us of participating in widespread intimidation and using strong arm tactics.

Accordingly I will not be apologizing to the Senator. If there is an apology due it should come from the Senator to those that he miss informed on Saturday night. Please pass this on to others that you know who heard the exchange on Saturday night.

Thank you.

Specter Speaks on the Employee Free Choice Act/Card Check

Washington, D.C. (March 24, 2009) – U.S. Senator Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) today spoke on the Senate floor concerning the Employee Free Choice Act/Card Check.

Senator Specter’s full floor statement, including the appendix, follows:

I have sought recognition to state my position on a bill known as the Employee Free Choice Act, also known as card check.  My vote on this bill is very difficult for many reasons. First, on the merits, it is a close call and has been the most heavily lobbied issue I can recall.  Second, it is a very emotional issue with Labor looking to this legislation to reverse the steep decline in union membership and business expressing great concern about added costs which would drive more companies out of business or overseas.  Perhaps, most of all, it is very hard to disappoint many friends who have supported me over the years, on either side, who are urging me to vote their way.

In voting for cloture – that, is to cut off debate – in June 2007, I emphasized in my floor statement and in a law review article that I was not supporting the bill on the merits, but only to take up the issue of labor law reform.  Hearings had shown that the NLRB was dysfunctional and badly politicized.  When Republicans controlled the Board, the decisions were for business.  With Democrats in control, the decisions were for labor.  Some cases took as long as eleven years to decide.  The remedies were ineffective.

Regrettably, there has been widespread intimidation on both sides.  Testimony shows union officials visit workers’ homes with strong-arm tactics and refuse to leave until cards are signed.  Similarly, employees have complained about being captives in employers’ meetings with threats of being fired and other strong-arm tactics.

On the merits, the issue which has emerged at the top of the list for me is the elimination of the secret ballot which is the cornerstone of how contests are decided in a democratic society. The bill’s requirement for compulsory arbitration if an agreement is not reached within 120 days may subject the employer to a deal he or she cannot live with.  Such arbitration runs contrary to the basic tenet of the Wagner Act for collective bargaining which makes the employer liable only for a deal he or she agrees to.  The arbitration provision could be substantially improved by the last best offer procedure which would limit the arbitrator’s discretion and prompt the parties to move to more reasonable positions.

In seeking more union membership and negotiating leverage, Labor has a valid point that they have suffered greatly from outsourcing of jobs to foreign countries and losses in pension and health benefits.  President Obama has pressed Labor’s argument that the middle class needs to be strengthened through more power to unions in their negotiations with business.  The better way to expand labor’s clout in collective bargaining is through amendments to the NLRA rather than on eliminating the secret ballot and mandatory arbitration.  Some of the possible provisions for such remedial legislation are set forth in an appendix to this statement.

In June 2007, the vote on the Employee Free Choice Act was virtually monolithic: 50 Senators, Democrats, voted for cloture and 48 Republicans against.  I was the only Republican to vote for cloture.  The prospects for the next cloture vote are virtually the same.  No Democratic Senator has spoken out against cloture.  Republican Senators are outspoken in favor of a filibuster.  With the prospects of a Democratic win in Minnesota, yet uncertain, it appears that 59 Democrats will vote to proceed with 40 Republicans in opposition.  If so, the decisive vote would be mine.  In a highly polarized Senate, many decisive votes are left to a small group who are willing to listen, reject ideological dogmatism, disagree with the party line and make an independent judgment. It is an anguishing position, but we play the cards we are dealt.

The emphasis on bipartisanship is, I think, misplaced.  There is no special virtue in having some Republicans and some Democrats take similar positions.  The desired value, really, is independent thought and an objective judgment.  It obviously can’t be that all Democrats come to one conclusion and all Republicans come to the opposite conclusion by expressing their individual objective judgments.  Senators’ sentiments expressed in the cloakroom frequently differ dramatically from their votes in the well of the Senate.  The nation would be better served, in my opinion, with public policy determined by independent, objective legislators’ judgments.

The problems of the recession make this a particularly bad time to enact Employees Free Choice legislation. Employers understandably complain that adding a burden would result in further job losses.   If efforts are unsuccessful to give Labor sufficient bargaining power through amendments to the NLRA, then I would be willing to reconsider Employees’ Free Choice legislation when the economy returns to normalcy.

I am announcing my decision now because I have consulted with a very large number of interested parties on both sides and I have made up my mind.  Knowing that I will not support cloture on this bill, Senators may choose to move on and amend the NRLA as I have suggested or otherwise. This announcement should end the rumor mill that I have made some deal for my political advantage.  I have not traded my vote in the past and I would not do so now.

John, of course he called you thugs.  Just because he didn’t use that exact word is immaterial.  It does seem to me an apology is in order but to you by the Senator for questioning your veracity and lying about his position on EFCA.