Biden Commemorates Stimulus Success

While Republicans are putting Americans out of work the Obama Administration is adding jobs.  The ARRA (Stimulus Bill) keeps funding projects which are hiring people and/or keeping them employed.  The Vice President went to Orlando yesterday to celebrate some of the jobs being done and to herald the fact that every state and DC had met the March 2nd deadline to commit to projects under the bill.  While every Republican Member of Congress voted against this bill and many GOP Governors condemned it they have requested funds and taken credit for projects in their states and Districts.  The VP said:

“Construction projects across the country are already creating jobs and upgrading our nation’s infrastructure, but we’re just getting started,” said Vice President Biden.  “Because these projects were funded on-time and, in many cases, under-budget, we’re going to be able to put even more people to work improving our highways just as the spring construction season kicks into high-gear.”

“I’ve been to Recovery projects all across the country, and I always hear the same thing from contractors – this work allows them to keep people working and hire new people, and that’s what it’s all about,” said Secretary LaHood.   “The states have done a great job in getting all these projects out the door, but to create more jobs and continue strengthening the economy, we have more work to do.”

Meanwhile Sen. Jim Bunning is filibustering extended unemployment benefits.  2000 transportation workers were furloughed yesterday on projects being held up by his action.  This is how totally dysfunctional government has become because Republicans are filibustering even routine actions in the Senate.  Nothing can be passed now without 60 votes.  Suddenly majority votes (51 of 100) is being depicted as anti-democratic and tyranny of the majority “trying to jam legislation down your throats.”  It’s called majority rules and is what the voters said they wanted.  Here’s a bit more about Sen. Bunning:

He opposed the Stimulus Bill too:

Why are Republicans opposed to Americans having jobs, especially good union jobs which pay enough to raise a family and enable them to be middle class?

The Ace of Sweeps

As I reported yesterday a neighbor threatened me because I wouldn’t allow him to hit me head on as he attempted to drive on the wrong side of the road.  A horrendous driver I’ve witnessed do other serious offenses behind the wheel, Ronald Renninger of Spring Lane, Fleetwood has a record also for defrauding customers.  He was sued by the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Bureau of Consumer Protection for shoddy work, refusing to finish projects, failure to provide legally required disclosures and other offenses.  Interestingly when I tried identifying him through the Pennsylvania Department of State website database of fictitious business names his was not registered.  Two years ago one of the charges against him was that he had failed to register the name of his business.

Mr. Renninger settled the suit and was forced to promise to repay customers and not conduct any further business ventures until he did.  He also paid a $10,000 fine.  Now he faces more serious criminal charges.  The voice mail he left on my cell phone would be comical if it weren’t so serious.  I don’t drive a bus and I’m not married.  In fact I had no idea who he was until yesterday or where he lived.  All I knew was that he’s a horrendous driver who speeds, tailgates and makes illegal passes in 35 mph speed limit zones and drives in the wrong lane.

Yesterday I was stopped at a stop sign waiting for traffic to clear when I saw him driving straight for the front of my vehicle.  I honked the horn just in time for him to veer away and give me “the finger.”  That was it.  He then called and left this message:

Fraud Against ACORN Revealed

Remember those outrageous videos produced last year smearing ACORN?  Andrew Breitbart paid James O’Keefe for them and published them on his websites and Fox News played them endlessly.  ACORN was defunded by reactionary idiots in Washington who revealed their naivete and ignorance until a federal judge declared their action unconstitutional.  It was all quite an ugly spectacle.  Unfortunately the escapade destroyed a good organization.  The right wing has been trying to wreck ACORN because it registers voters, most of who wind up voting Democratic because they are minorities, and helping give voice to those who are without a voice in our system.  This is a threat to the right wing.

James O’Keefe, recently arrested trying to do something to the phones in a federal office, made the highly edited and misleading (fraudulent?) videos and sold them to Breitbart.  The most infamous one had him dressed as a pimp and getting advice from an ACORN employee in Baltimore about how to set up a child prostitution ring.  It was all a fraud.  O’Keefe, in reality, entered the ACORN office in normal attire and represented that his companion (Hannah Giles) was a prostitute being threatened by her pimp and needed help.  In the edited version showed on Fox News and elsewhere he was dressed as a pimp and claimed they needed advice on setting up a child prostitution ring.

It was all a fraud.  I said at the time the video appeared edited and I wanted to see the unedited video.  Andrew Breitbart has never produced those.  Mike Stark of Stark Reports and The Brad Blog caught up with Breitbart at CPAC and asked him about his fraud.  It’s a very interesting video:

When will Fox News apologize for airing fraudulent videos and making false claims about ACORN?  Don’t hold your breath because they got what they wanted:  the destruction of ACORN’s reputation.  Maybe it is Fox’s reputation which needs to be destroyed.

Sestak Goes After Specter’s Personal Attacks

Congressman Joe Sestak launched a blistering attack against Arlen Specter today.  The Senator landed a direct hit last week revealing the sub minimum wages Sestak pays his campaign staff.  Of course most campaign staffers work for slave wages, it’s the dirty little secret of Democratic politics.  There’s no excuse for the low wages these dedicated people receive in return for long hours and high stress.

This race took a nasty turn after Specter had a “senior moment” and took the stage as Joe was making his closing statement at an event in Harrisburg in late January.  The Senator accused the Congressman of missing votes and said he’d been AWOL.  Most of those votes were for routine resolutions like naming post offices.  Sestak responded with this statement:

“Part of what really turns Pennsylvanians off about Washington politics is the negativity and the personal attacks.  Arlen Specter has used language to make people think I’m a criminal and a deserter after 31 years in the military. The worst I’ve ever said about Arlen Specter is that he was a Republican.  For 30 years, Arlen Specter has used these kinds of dishonest attacks against Pennsylvania Democrats. Soon, we Democrats will get the chance to say whether we think that’s the way politics should be conducted.”

Pennsylvanians are tired of Specter and only 25% in a recent poll said he deserves re-election.  Joe Sestak, trailing by 17 points needs to introduce himself to the 44% of voters who remain undecided.

Sen Casey Responds About Using Reconciliation

About two weeks ago I contacted Sen.Casey’s office in Washington about supporting Sen. Bennet’s letter calling for the use of reconciliation to pass health insurance reform.  You might recall the several articles because Sen. Specter did decide to sing on.  I identified myself as a blogger (I’ve met the Senator a few times and he knows who I am).  Today I received this cryptic response:

Dear Mr. Morgan:

Thank you for taking the time to contact me about the performance of Congress and the need for a clean, accountable government. I appreciate hearing from all Pennsylvanians about the issues that matter most to them.

As a United States Senator, I take very seriously the responsibilities that come with my job as a public official. Sadly, all too often I hear from constituents across Pennsylvania who fear that Congress has lost sight of its mission to represent the American people and solve the serious problems facing our Nation today. They express concern about fiscal responsibility, failed congressional oversight, earmark reform, partisanship and reports of corruption or conflicts of interest on the part of other members. While I can’t speak for my colleagues or how they manage their offices, I can assure you that I am vigilant in making sure that my Senate office, which truly belongs to the people of Pennsylvania, is run transparently and without undue influence from special interests.

The Nation’s fiscal health is of the utmost importance to me. I, too, am concerned about the escalating amounts of debt incurred by our government, particularly over the last eight years. Moving forward, we must develop a policy that is responsible both in terms of spending and paying down our accumulated debts.

I am proud to support targeted initiatives designed to promote economic growth and improve the quality of life in Pennsylvania, but recognize that federal spending, including some contained in earmarks, has been wasteful in recent years. Each project submitted to my office is subjected to considerable scrutiny, and I have made it a point to provide the public with timely information on the projects I have sponsored in federal spending bills.

More of the letter, remember I wrote asking him to support reconciliation for health insurance reform:

While earmarks represent a small portion of the annual federal budget (about one half of one percent of all spending in fiscal year 2009), the need for transparency and accountability is essential to ensuring the public’s confidence in this process. In 2007, I joined my colleagues in enacting new rules designed to strengthen the public’s ability to identify the Congressional sponsors of these projects. As a result of these efforts, the name of the Member(s) of Congress who have advocated for a particular project now appear in the text of the statement accompanying the bill. Additionally, reforms that I supported now require Members of Congress to certify that they have no financial interest in the projects they have sponsored. These changes constitute an unprecedented commitment to reforming Congressionally-directed spending practices. As the 111th Congress continues its work, I will continue to support steps to further increase the transparency of this process.

I have also been gratified to hear from my constituents regarding the need to put partisanship aside, and I wholeheartedly agree that the challenges facing our country leave little room for partisan squabbling. I have cosponsored important bills with Independent, Republican and Democratic Senators in both the 110th and 111th Congresses, and I will continue to reach across the aisle to find legislative solutions to the problems facing Pennsylvania.

Again, thank you for sharing your thoughts with me. As your Senator, I highly value hearing what Pennsylvanians think about the actions of Congress as well as my own performance here in Washington. Please do not hesitate to contact me in the future about any matter of importance to you.

If you have access to the Internet, I encourage you to visit my web site, http://casey.senate.gov. I invite you to use this online office as a comprehensive resource to stay up-to-date on my work in Washington, request assistance from my office or share with me your thoughts on the issues that matter most to you and to Pennsylvania.

Sincerely,

Bob Casey

United States Senator

Why even respond to me if this is the best you can do?  His letter has nothing to do with what I requested and it reads like a generic constituent letter.  Does he even have a press assistant? Perhaps he should, this is an embarrassment.

It’s Snow News

by Walter Brasch

Up to two feet of snow hit the Mid-Atlantic and New England states last week, the second storm within two weeks. Wind gusts of up to 50 miles an hour and temperatures in the 20s created severe wind chill and extreme hazardous driving conditions. Pennsylvania ordered all commercial trucks off many of its major highways and Interstates. Schools and colleges throughout the Northeast cancelled classes, many for two days.

          We were warned that this would be a severe storm, because days before we received minute-by-minute predictions from TV weather persons. The snow will be two feet deep. Or maybe only 3 to 5 inches. No, wait, that was last hour’s prediction. It’s now going to be 5-9 inches. Or, maybe 10 inches. No, wait. That’s wrong, it’ll be 15 to 20 inches. It’ll bury buildings and wreak a path of destruction unlike anything seen in the past four thousand years! It might also be only a half-foot. We’ll be revising our prediction to some other number as soon as our assignment editor throws a dart at the Snow Inch Board.

Most residents, unless they were forced to work, were smart enough to stay home. Also smart enough to stay indoors were TV news directors who sent their reporters and camera crews into the middle of snow-covered roads. Deep-voiced anchors introduced us to the infotainment promotion that has become TV news: “Now, LIVE from the middle of the Interstate, and bravely facing blizzard conditions with EXCLUSIVE coverage ONLY on Eyewitless News 99, your hometown station for LIVE EXCLUSIVE weather coverage is our LIVE reporter, Sammy Snowbound.”

           Reporters and meteorologists were soon entertaining us with wooden rulers, which they pushed onto snow-covered tables and snow banks to report snow accumulation, not unlike a radio reporter doing play-by-play announcing for a high school basketball contest.  

The previous week, the local news stations and TV all-news networks identified a crippling snow as “Snowmageddon” and “Snowpocalyse.” This week, with its winds, we learned about “Snowicane.”

           And so for two back-to-back snow-somethings, we had almost unlimited Team Coverage. The teams interviewed business owners-“So, how’s the snow affecting your business?” They interviewed residents-“So, how’s the snow affecting your plans?” They even interviewed public officials-“So, how’s the snow affecting your budget?”

           If Jesus came to the Northeast, he’d be watching all-snow all-the-time coverage, and waiting in a green room for his one minute interview. “So, Jesus, how you surviving the snow?”

           The problem of the extended coverage is that when there isn’t any snow, local TV news gives us a five minute weather report on the Evening News. Excluding commercials, teasers, and mindless promotion, that’s more than one-fourth of the news budget. We learn all about highs and lows, Arctic clippers, temperatures in obscure places, and the history of snowflakes. When a weather “event” occurs, TV has to ramp up its coverage, ‘lest we think we can learn what we need to know in only five minutes.

           Every weather person will tell you there are no two snowflakes the same. But, we can always count on the same coverage, storm after storm, from the same flakes covering the weather. While the reporters are in the middle of a blizzard showing us snow-and how brave they are-they aren’t giving us significant information about how to prepare for and then survive a storm, which may cut off electricity for up to a week. Nor are the TV crews telling us what happens to the homeless, or how the storms are affecting everything from insects to black bears.

           Long after the storm passes, we’ll still be seeing TV weather reports of about four or five minutes-“It’ll be sunny tomorrow, and here’s a history of sun.” It would be nice if local TV news would spend as much time as it does delivering semi-accurate weather reports to discuss significant governmental and social issues along with its diet of car crashes, fires, and the latest Pickle Festival.

[Walter Brasch was a reporter and editor before becoming a professor of mass communications and journalism. He is an award-winning syndicated columnist and the author of 17 books, including the recently-published third edition of Sex and the Single Beer Can: Probing the Media and American Culture.]

News & Notes March 1, 2010

It’s March 1st, one day closer to spring.  I have a feeling once nice weather comes everyone will be in a good mood.

My mood got wrecked this morning when an asswipe tried driving right into me at the stop sign out front.  There’s nothing like being stopped in your lane at a stop sign and seeing a van coming right at you because the asshole can’t turn without driving in the wrong lane.  Worse this guy gave ME the finger when I blared the horn to get his attention.  I’ve had other encounters on the area roads with him as he drives a van with “Ace of Sweeps” painted all over it.  One day he wasn’t happy with me going 45 in a 40 mph zone, tailgated me then passed me in a 35 mph no passing zone then sped off.  If you’re in Berks County tell all your friends not to do business with Ace of Sweeps.

Update:  This man called me and left a message threatening “to put a bullet in my head” if I don’t stop “messing with his business.”  Maybe he should learn how to drive something other than his mouth.

Update II:  The man has been charged with terroristic threatening.  This killed an entire afternoon because some idiot doesn’t know how to drive…  More later.

Capt. Shannon Meehan is announcing his candidacy to unseat Rep. Nicholas Miccozzie in Delaware County’s 163rd legislative district.  I cannot make the formal announcement tomorrow due to a previously scheduled event.

I will be attending Good Thyme For LIfe tomorrow evening.  This is an annual fundraiser for Co-County Wellness Services here in Reading.  My friend Carolyn Bazik is Executive Director of Berks AIDS Network which is the non profit organization benefiting from our evening of fine dining.

President Obama announced a new initiative today to prevent school dropouts.  The rates of young people leaving school is bad, terribly so in inner cities.  Part of that, of course, is due to economic pressures, partly to bad schools which we fail to properly fund.

DAL Services announced a new release of its Pennsylvania Political Campaign Management Database software.  “Running for office in Pennsylvania just got easier,” said David Lynn,

President of DAL Services, Inc., the producer of the software.  “With this new version of the PPCM software, a political campaign can import voter data files from the Commonwealth Department of State, print street lists, solicit contributors, acknowledge gifts, and run voter statistics, in addition to filing campaign finance reports electronically or on paper.  Typically, a newcomer to the political arena will not have the money to purchase campaign management software to run their campaign,” Lynn continued.  “My goal is to level the playing field by providing campaign management software for free.”

The Inquirer writes about Democrats who are fearful of losing this year and shifting towards the center.  This is why voters hate Dems:  they don’t know who they are in what they believe.  The article mentions how they’re trying to stick to the yellow center line (meaning the middle of the road).  I say that yellow line is the cowardice they’re mistaking for a spine.

An ATV collided with an SUV in Philadelphia.  What a mismatch.  The driver may have been under the influence, the ATV riders were under the influence of stupidity.  I see young people riding ATV’s on our public roads all the time.  I figure they’re trying to prove Darwin’s theory:  stupid people die before they can procreate.  Well, hopefully.

Canada won the hockey gold medal.  As I was watching the final medals count I wondered why countries are ranked based on total medals.  Why not award three points for each gold, two for silver and one for bronze?  The nation with the most points wins.

A new TV show could be created called Room 626.  The space inside the State Capitol keeps coming up at the BonusGate trial.  Apparently it was a very busy place.  This is where House Democratic staffers did all their campaign work because it was located high up inside the building away from prying eyes (probably mostly from the press).  It could make an interesting drama.

Drama continues in the Dauphin County Courthouse as the trial of former Democratic Whip Mike Veon and three staffers continues.  His lawyer keeps trying to exonerate his client by proving he left no fingerprints on the extensive activities of his large staff doing campaign work with tax dollars, on state time with state resources, inside the state Capitol building.  Good luck with that.

The man had far more staff than necessary for legitimate legislative work, they worked out of Room 626, they got nice bonuses for doing the campaign work (tax dollars), testified they thought if they didn’t do the campaign work they’d get fired, traveled extensively back and forth to his District to campaign and billed all the travel to the taxpayers and he knew nothing about any of this?  I think Mike Veon has become Sgt. Schultz.  “I know nothing.”

The roof of a car dealership collapsed under the weight of snow.  Is this like the avalanche which has hit Toyota dealerships?  I hear they’ve become ghost towns.  I have no sympathy when I learn how the company stonewalled ABC News when they were reporting on the defects in these cars and the company pulled its advertising from its stations.  Now that’s hardball.  It certainly makes me so I never want another Toyota.  The sky has fallen on these people and they deserve it all.

Sen. Jim Bunning’s obstruction on Friday just cost 2,000 Transportation workers their jobs.  It’s a good thing he isn’t running for re-election.  While Dems are trying to create jobs Republicans are putting people on the street.  Somehow they seem to think this is good politics.

Danny O’Kelly’s Dead…

(Warning Shameless Plug Alert)

…and you can come see it any weekend in March at America’s Best Value Inn (formerly the Best Western) on 5th Street Highway, in Reading.  

Danny O’Kelly’s Dead

This is a new take on an old March tradition and somewhat Irish standard of Finnigan’s Wake, done at bars around this time of year.  They are even offering discounts for Police officers, Firefighters, Veterans & Current US Military personnel.

To give you an idea of what kind of show to expect, if you go, from the webpage…

“Picture in your mind a mass splattering of influences from “CLUE”, “NOISES OFF”, “WEEKEND AT BERNIE’S”. and add in a bit of “WHO’S LINE IS IT ANYWAY.”

I am hoping to catch this show sometime in March & recommend it to everyone.  I know some of the actors in the show and they will deliver quite a solid performance and have you rolling in the aisles and out of your seat.  

Note: This is NOT family entertainment, adult audiences only, as is typical with most dinner theatre productions.

Danny O’Kelly’s Dead…

(Warning Shameless Plug Alert)

…and you can come see it any weekend in March at America’s Best Value Inn (formerly the Best Western) on 5th Street Highway, in Reading.  

Danny O’Kelly’s Dead

This is a new take on an old March tradition and somewhat Irish standard of Finnigan’s Wake, done at bars around this time of year.  They are even offering discounts for Police officers, Firefighters, Veterans & Current US Military personnel.

To give you an idea of what kind of show to expect, if you go, from the webpage…

“Picture in your mind a mass splattering of influences from “CLUE”, “NOISES OFF”, “WEEKEND AT BERNIE’S”. and add in a bit of “WHO’S LINE IS IT ANYWAY.”

I am hoping to catch this show sometime in March & recommend it to everyone.  I know some of the actors in the show and they will deliver quite a solid performance and have you rolling in the aisles and out of your seat.  

Note: This is NOT family entertainment, adult audiences only, as is typical with most dinner theatre productions.